Monday, 29 February 2016

CAN: In Search of a Vocalist (Thaiaga Raj Raja Ratnam, Michael Cousins, Phew and Tim Hardin)

After Damo Suzuki left Can, there were a number of other vocalists who rehearsed and played live with them in 1975/6 before they added Rosko Gee and Reebop to the core line up of Irmin Schmidt, Michael Karoli, Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit. These included Thaiaga Raj Raja Ratnam from Malaysia (or Indonesia) Michael Cousins AKA Magic Michael, the Japanese vocalist Phew and Tim Hardin.
A number of recordings survive from these try outs.
There is a rehearsal from an unknown date  and a live improvised track from a gig at the Hatfield Polytechnic on the 21st of November 1975 featuring Tim Hardin
It may seem a strange combination but it sort of works...though I cannot imagine Can playing 'If I Were A Carpenter' as an encore. Though they did play a thirteen minute version of 'The Lady Came From Baltimore' together at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London two days after. Needless to say if anyone has a recording of that I would love to hear it.
Phew (Hiromi Moritani) as well as recording her first solo album with Holger & Jaki in 1981 (produced by Conny Plank) also in 1975 improvised over a recording of Damo Suzuki's last gig with Can at the Edinburgh Empire on the 28th August 1973. This concert had actually been recorded by United Artists as a possible live album.
Michael Cousins, who according to Discogs was once described by Nick Kent as Ladbroke Grove's answer to Wild Man Fisher, was perhaps the most conventional rock vocalist to try out for the gig and apparently from reports at the time it did not sit well with the band's audience. Included here is a gig from Hannover in 1976. As Magic Michael he appeared on the Greasy Truckers Party album as well as the A Bunch of Stiff Records compilation. He can be seen in this video from 1973 for about 20 seconds.
Lastly to Thaiaga Raj Raja Ratnam of which there is very little info out there (apart from this solitary video uploaded by someone of the same name.) I've included a full gig from Poitiers in France from March 1976 and a couple of (inferior quality) tracks of unknown origin. The second half of disc 2 here has a gig from Brussels that I'd never heard until I googled for info just then
You can get them all 



  1. Your mention of Thaiaga Raj Raja Ratnam "from Indonesia" got me checking my local sources. The name is unfamiliar, but then memories of the '70s do fade.

    However, a couple of clues indicate that he was/is Malaysian.
    1. The demo was recorded in Studiohive Taman Seputeh. There is a more recent studio named Studiohive in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital. A 'homage' to the past?

    2. Although there is an Indian diaspora in Indonesia and dangdut has a notable Hindi music influence, I have yet to hear of any 'avant-garde' Indian musicians.

    Finally, there is a full concert with T.R. Raja Ratnam on YouTube from Lyon, France on 17th January 1976:
    Good sound, but just an album cover rather than a video of the performance. I presume it's out there as a bootleg.

  2. Thanks for the extra info. I do have that Lyon gig but according to the Can gig databse here it doesn't actually feature him. will listen to it all the way through tonight to see. Thanks again

  3. Thiaga Raj Raja Ratnam (who shortly was singing with Can) was/is from Malaysia (Kuala Kangsar) and lived for a while in Germany (in Wuppertal). He played Guitar too and created some songs. He went back to Malaysia in 1977 (I think). I was his Girl-friend for a while at that time and I saw him singing with Can in Weilerswist (as far as I remember) - trying with them. I remember they always wanted him to scream:-) I even might have pictures from him - long long ago;-)Ok, Marlia Looming is not my real name. So funny to find such old memories on the www :-) Ulrike

    1. you're welcome:-) I see I wrote his name wrong (never saw it written). Did not think I would find anything about him on the net. Oh and his ancestors came from India he told me - that was important for him to mention;-)
      Wonder what happened to him. Last time I heard from him was a letter from Malaysia a long time ago, telling me he should get merried:-)
      We also lived together for a while. I first met him in a pup named 'Schrank' in Wuppertal where he was working some days.
      I think he had to go back to Malaysia because he did not have a permission to stay any longer in Germany (as far as I remember). I know he always wanted to make music:-) Ulrike