Amon Duul 


Band members                             Related acts

  line up xx

- Chris Karrer -- vocals, guitar, violins, sax

- Peter Leopold (RIP 2006) -- drums, percussion, acoustic guitar

- Renate Knaup (aka Renate Knaup-Kroetenschwanz) -- vocals

- Lother Meld (RIP) -- bass, guitar, vocals

- Falk U. Rogner -- synthesizers

- John Weinzierl -- lead guitar

 

  backing musicians:

- Chris Balder -- strings

- Thorn Balursson - keyboards

- Bob Chatwin -- trumpet

- Lee Harper (RIP) -- trumpet

- Bobby Jones (RIP) - sax

- Olaf Kubler -- sax, flute

- Ludwig Popp -- weldhorn

- Rudy Nagora -- sax

- Wild Willy -- accordion, percussion, backing vocals

 

  line up xx

- Klaus Eberl -- vocals, bass, guitar

- Chris Karrer -- vocals, guitar, violins, sax

- Peter Leopold (RIP 6006) -- drums, percussion, acoustic guitar

- John Weinzierl -- lead guitar

- Stefan Zauner -- vocals, keyboards, synthesizers

 

  line up x (1975)

- Robby Heibl --  bass, violin, guitars, vocals 

- Chris Karrer --  guitar, violin, banjo, vocals 

- Renate Knaup -- vocals 

- Peter Leopold (RIP 2006) -- drums, percussion

- Falk Rogner -- organ, synthesizer 

- Nando Tischer --  guitar, vocals 

- John Weinzierl  -- acoustic & electric guitars 

 

  supporting musicians (1975)

- Thor Baldursson -- keyboards 

- Karlheinz Becker -- percussion, tympani, gong

- Lee Harper -- trumpet, brass section 

- Bobby Jones (RIP) -- saxophone

- Jürgen S. Korduletsch --  backing vocals

- Helmut Sonnleitner -- violin, string section 

 

 

 

 

- Achtzehn Karat Gold

- Amon Duul

- Bundesverwaltungsorchester

- Embryo (Chris Karrer)

- Gila (Daniel "Danny" Fichelscher)

- Al Gromer Khan & Hi s Totals

- Hawkwind

- Chris Karrer (solo efforts)

- Mikrokosmos (Chris Karrer)

- M.T. Wizzard (Chris Karrer)

- Munchner Freiheit

- Niagara (Daniel "Danny" Fichelscher)

- Pack

- Popul Vuh (Renate Knaup)

- Sameti

- Space Explosion (Chris Karrer)

- Utopia

 

 


 

Genre: progressive

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Hijack

Company: ATCO

Catalog: SD 36-108
Year:
 1974

Country/State: Munich, Germany

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: includes original inner sleeve; DJ sticker on cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 153

Price: $25.00

 

Best time to play:  Late nights when you're lookin' for something with just a touch of progressiveness to it

 

I realize that ATCO was Atlantic's experimental imprint, but I've always wondered why the company decided to release Amon Duul II material in the States.  On the other hand, if you listen to 1973's "Hijack" you'll get a feel for what ATCO's marketing arm saw in the band.  

 

From a biographical standpoint 1974's "Hijack" (it was released as "Hi-Jack" in Germany with the same track listing, but apparently a different mix), was mildly interested as a quasi-reunion featuring the bulk of the original Amon Duul line-up.  Present for this outing were singer/guitarist Chris Karrer, drummer Peter Leopold, bassist Lothar Meid, singer Renate Knaup, keyboardist Falk U. Rogner, and lead guitarist John Weinzierl.  Musically the album continued the band's progression from experimental space rock pioneers to a what was a surprisingly commercial entity.  In this case, even the most experimental of the nine tracks (say 'Explode Like a Star' and the funky instrumental 'Da Guadeloop'), reflected at lest some degree of commercial edge. Sounds strange to pair those two together - Amon Duul and commercial ...   Probably the biggest surprise to me was how good Renate Knaup's voice was.  While she was only featured on a couple of tracks, 'Traveler' provided a stunning slice of folk-rock that would have made Fairport Convention proud.  I guess I can understand why the band's longstanding fans probably weren't all that amused.

 

Largely savaged by critics and fans alike when it was released, I've got to admit I don't find the set half bad.  Yeah, a large chunk of their earlier acid-drenched experimental edge was gone, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.   

 

For anyone interested, the band has a nice web presence at: http://www.amonduul.de/main.html

 

"Hijack" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Can't Wait (Part 1 + 2)   (Luther Meid) - 6:18    rating: **** stars

Admittedly Lothar Meid's heavily accented, clipped vocals took a little getting accustomed to, but I can't say you really noticed it on the psych-tinged rocker  'I Can't Wait (Part 1 + 2).  Kicked along by a decidedly acid-tinged arrangement (every time I hear the song I think about 'I Am the Walrus'-era Beatles)  Meid's insidiously catchy bass line and Falk U. Rogne' sweeping synthesizers, the song was catchy and commercial !!!   Who ever would have expected to say that about an Amon Duul performance ?

2.) Mirror   (John Weinzierl) - 4:21  rating: *** stars

Kicked along by some Stax-styled horns (seriously), 'Mirror' was a surprisingly straight forward and enjoyable rocker.  With Meid using his most rugged voice, this one really managed to blend Krautrock and boogie moves.  The only real complaint on this one was the strange, hyper-speed guitar solo and the bizarro munchkin backing vocals ...   Renate Knaup overdosing on whippet hits ?     The track was tapped as a German 45:

 

 

 

 

- 1975's 'Mirror' b/w ''Liquid Whisper' (NOVA catalog number 6.11579 AC) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.) Traveler   (John Weinzierl - Renate Knaup - Falk U. Rogner) - 4:23    rating: **** stars

With Knaup on lead vocals, 'Traveler' was probably the album's most conventional performance.  Sporting a beautiful, harpsichord and flute powered melody, I've always loved her crisp, clear, and power voice - imagine a Teutonic Sandy Denny.   

4.) You're Not Alone   (Luther Meid) - 6:55    rating: **** stars

Yeah it started out sounding like a deep space probe having a breakdown, but unexpectedly 'You're Not Alone' blossomed into a stark, but mesmerizing showcasing some of Meid's nicest vocals.   I've got to admit I never thought I'd say something like this, but the song included a simply killer, jazzy-inflected sax solo.    

 

(side 2)
1.) Explode Like a Star   (Chris Karrer) - 4:00  rating: *** stars

Based on the title I was expecting to hear a slice of freak out noise.  Instead 'Explode Like a Star' was a bouncy, up-tempo number that actually picked up peed as it rolled along....  and then all of a sudden it shifted into something that seemed to combine a '50s influenced rock sound with one of the strangest science-based lyrics you've ever heard.   I've listened to this one dozens of times and the abrupt musical shift still catches me off guard.   

2.) Da Guadeloop (instrumental)   (Luther Meid - Peter Leopold) - 7:03  rating: ** stars

'Da Guadeloop' was an instrumental built on a funky, almost disco-tinged guitar riff and some orchestration that sounded like they'd stolen it from a Blaxploitation soundtrack.  A couple of minutes in, the arrangement got really bizarre with people shrieking, elephant noises, busy phones, a nice John Weinzierl guitar solo, and other assorted sound effects.   Melodic, but very strange and it made for a long seven minutes ....    

3.) Lonely Woman   (Chris Karrer) - 4:44  rating: ** stars

'Lonely Woman' found Knaup seemingly trying to channel late-inning Marianne Faithful, or perhaps Bryan Ferry into a Krautrock version of the tango ...  Sounding like she'd been gargling with sandpaper, the song had an odd nightclub-ish cocktail jazz feel that's always kind of creeped me out.        

4.) Liquid Whisper   (Peter Leopold - Renate Knaup - Falk U. Rogner) - 3:24  rating: *** stars

Opening up with some truly beautiful guitar (wonder what effects pedal they were using), 'Liquid Whisper ' turned the spotlight back on Knaup and found the band mining English folk-rock.  On the surface that wouldn't sound like a good idea, but damn if they didn't somehow manage to pull it off with a sweet melody and some breezy, lead vocals from Knaup.

5.) Archy the Robot  (Chris Karrer) - 3:30    rating: **** stars

Hum, what are you to make of a song that starts out "I've got a robot, he's a friend of mine, I call him Archy since quite a long time ..."  ?  Well, as you probably guessed, 'Archy the Robot' was plain strange.  Bouncing between catchy pop song and what sounded like a marching band arrangement, I still haven't figured this one out.  Something about a robot that decides to kidnap Satin ?      Love the way 'robot' was pronounced  "Robit" ...    (I gave it an extra star for the totally freaked out lyrics)

 

 

 


Genre: progressive

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Made In Germany

Company: ATCO

Catalog: SD 36-119
Year:
 1975

Country/State: Munich, Germany

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $40.00

 

Where do you even start with a band like Amon Duul II?

 

Released in 1975, "Made In Germany" was the band's eighth album  in six years.  The original album was a fascinating and largely incomprehensible concept piece apparently exploring German history.  The release was made even more interesting by the differences extreme between the European album and the American LP.  While they shared the same title, that's about the extent of commonality.  The original European release was a sprawling twenty track, double album set.  Presented to Atlantic for release in the States, label president Ahmet Ertegün's refused to release the collection without major changes.  The US release saw ATCO slap a different cover on the collection, change the running order and haphazardly edit it down to a single LP, twelve track effort.  Lost in the American version were a series instrumentals and a mock Hitler interview.   Even the original cover art showing the band clothed in uniforms and period dress was seen as offensive.  It was replaced with a cover photo featured lead singer Renate Knaup doing her best Marlena Dietrich "The Blue Angel" pose.  Not sure how that made the album more marketable to American audiences ...

 

Co-produced by the band and Jurgen Korduletsch, "Made In Germany" was apparently intended as a concept piece, using a wide variety of musical genres to wander through various facets of German history.  The slimmed down US version kept the eclectic musical line-up including everything from classical (the opening part of 'Dreams'), to cabaret ('Blue Grotto'), hard-rock ('La Krautoma'), pop ('Metropolis'), and even electronic music ('Gala Gnome'), but ditched some of the more experimental instrumental sections ('SM II Peng' and 'Three-Eyed Ovedrive) and a spoken word "Hitler interview" segment.  In the process whatever plotline originally existed was lost.  It was also miles away from the band's earlier experimental releases like "Phallus Dei" and "Yeti."  For folks who loved those first two releases, this shift to a more conventional and even commercial sound was probably going to reek of corporate "sell out."  On the other hand, if you found those earlier albums to be challenging, or simply unlistenable, then this one probably had more appeal.  

 

 

So that raises the question of should you invest in the original double LP set, or the abridged US release.  To be honest, a lot of the material dropped from the original collection wasn't all that good.  Sure, there were a couple of exceptions.  'Wilhelm Wilhelm' was a nice crunching rocker while 'Wide Angle' screamed top-40 pop.  Why it was dropped from the American release is a mystery since it was even more commercial that the rest of the abridged collection.  

 

 

 

 

Ultimately you'll have to decided if you wanted to hear the artists' original intent rather than the ATCO marketing departments vision of an album that would appear to domestic audiences is probably the way to go.  It'll cost you more, but I would look for the original album.

 

"Made In German" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Dreams   (Nando Tischner) - 4:08   rating: **** stars

The un-credited piano opening led you to believe this was going to be an over-the-top slice of symphonic pomposity.  And abruptly 'Dreams' shifted into a weird mash-up of tango and military march.  Listening to this one was seriously like getting smacked up the side of the hat with a rugby bat.  For a guy who isn't a big violin fan, I have to admit this tune had a killer violin solo.

2.) Ludwig   (John Weinzierl - Nando Tischner) - 2:33   rating: *** stars

Well, a song about Bavarian King Ludwig isn't the most commercial topic I can think of.  Still, a bouncy melody and the combination of lead singer Renate Knaup's little girl voice and Robby Heibl's dry German delivery somehow managed to make the compressed biographical plotline bizarre and  intriguing.

3.) The King's Chocolate Waltz (instrumental)   (Jurgen S. Kordeuletsch - Falk U. Rogner) - 2:32   rating: *** stars

The pretty instrumental 'The King's Chocolate Waltz' was more in keeping with what you'd expect from a Krautrock band.  Built on a fragile melody, the track managed to slap on an array of spacy synthesizer washes that would have made the guys in Kraftwerk happy.

4.) Blue Grotto   (John Weinzierl - Renate Knaup - Falk U. Rogner) - 3:33   rating: *** stars

A smooth, breezy ballad, showcasing Renate Knaup's heavily accented vocals, 'Blue Grotto' was one of the most commercial songs they ever recorded.  Thematically it always left me wondering since it appeared to be a continuation of their infatuation with King Ludwig.

5.) 5.5.55   (John Weinzierl - Nando Tischner - Peter Leopold) - 3:13   rating: *** stars

No idea what the title reflected (someone's birthday?), but '5.5.55' offered up a rollicking West Coast-styled slice of boogie rock.  Even though the inner sleeve provided the lyrics I'm clueless what the tune was about.

6.) Emigrant Song   (Robby Heibl - Nando Tischner) - 3:23   rating: **** stars

Amon Duul II gets infected with a touch of Americana ...  pretty ballad, though once again the lyric sheet doesn't really help trying to figure out what the song's about.

7.) La Krautoma (Instrumental)  (traditional arranged by Amon Duul II) - 4:45   rating: *** stars

It took me a while to figure out this tune was an adaptation of the Argentina tango 'La Paloma.'  I guess the original melody is buried in there somewhere under all the guitar.  Edited down from the original six minute version, the instrumental 'La Krautome' was interesting for demonstrating these guys could actually handle straight ahead rock and roll.  Built on a nice West Coast feel, the spotlight was on guitarist John Weuzierl.  The track also gave drummer Peter Leopold a brief shot at the spotlight before degenerating into an out-of-control jam.

 

(side 2)
1.) Metropolis
  (John Weinzierl - Renate Knaup - Falk U. Rogner) - 3:38   rating: **** stars

Up to this one Knaup's heavily accented vocals had merely irritated me.  Her vocals sounded sharp and coupled with eclectic lyrics, it just left me cold.  That all changed on the pop sounding 'Metropolis' where Knaup actually sounded coy and sexy.  One of the album highlights.  How know what it's about.

2.) Loosey Girls   (Nando Tischner) - 5:20   rating: **** stars

Guitarist Tischner wrote it and I'm guessing he's featured on the lead vocals.  Prostitution in the Weimar Republic probably isn't a common topic in rock and roll and something seemingly was lost in the English translation, but 'Loosey Girls' was another pretty ballad.  This one reminded me a bit of Pink Floyd at their most commercial.  Bobby Jones sax solo underscored the Floyd comparison.

3.) Gala Gnome (instrumental)   (Jurgen S. Kordeuletsch - Falk U. Rogner) -1:18  rating: ** stars

The only "experimental" instrumental that survived from the original European release, the opening sound collage would not have been out of place on a Tangerine Dream release.  To my ears that meant it sounded like sitting in the middle of an industrial plant, listening to a stamping machine pressing out kitchen sinks.

4.) Top of the Mud   (Nando Tischner) - 3:44  rating: ** stars

Courtesy of Falk-U Rogner, 'Top of the Mud' opening up with some cheesy '70s synthesizers.  A nice mash-up boogie and country-rock moves, it was probably a killer live track.  

5.) Mr. Kraut's Jinx   (Chris Karrer) - 8:48  rating: ** stars

The album ended with singer/guitarist Chris Karrer's lone contribution to the album.  Curiously bassist Robby Heibl apparently handed the vocals, though it was easy to see why he didn't sing very often.  His delivery was more of a spoken word performance than singing.   Maybe because the song was so long and there were so many lyrics, this one's always reminded me of a Dylan tune - well a Dylan tune if he sang with a heavy German accent.  Again, who knows what it was about ...  Admittedly it got better as it rolled along with Heibl belting out "'cause future ain't tomorrow; future is today" time after time at the conclusion.

 

 

 


Genre: progressive

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Almost Alive

Company: NOVA

Catalog: 6.23.305
Year:
 1977

Country/State: Munich, Germany

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 263

Price: $25.00

 

Best time to play:  not very often

 

 

In spite of the title that gave me the impression it might have been a live collection, 1977's "Almost Alive" was a pure studio album, recorded at sessions in Munich and 10cc's  Strawberry Studios in Manchester, UK.  From a personnel standpoint the album was a first; marking the first time the same line up had remained intact for two albums (vocalist Klaus Eberl, multi-instrumentalist Chris Karrer, drummer Peter Leopold, guitarist John Weinzierl , and keyboard player Stefan Zauner). Unfortunately that stability didn't seem to have done much in terms of enhancing band creativity.   If you were a longstanding Amon Duul fan, chance are you were going to consider this set was pretty much an outright abomination.  Anyone looking for the band's patented mix of Krautrock, hippy excesses, and weird progressive moves was going to be dumbfound by an album that was probably best classified as AOR.  Seriously, tracks like 'One Blue Morning' and 'Goodbye My Love' sounded like a weak Lake LP (and that's probably being generous).  

 

The band's first release after losing their US distribution deal with ATCO, I don't think this one saw a US release.

 

"Almost Alive" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) One Blue Morning   (Chris Karrer - John Weinzierl - Klaus Eberl - Stefan Zauner - Peter Leopold) - 7:29  rating: *** stars

Anyone expecting to hear some classic whacked out, hippy experimentation was probably going to do a double take upon hearing 'One Blue Morning'.  A shockingly commercial rocker, this one could have easily been mistaken for something released by Lake, or another mid-'70s radio oriented rock band.  Not bad, with some nice John Weinzierl  lead guitar, but certainly not what longstanding Amon Duul fans were expecting.

2.) Goodbye My Love   (Chris Karrer - John Weinzierl - Klaus Eberl - Stefan Zauner - Peter Leopold) - 8:15  rating: *** stars

In spite of some Zaunder synthesizers, the mid-tempo rocker 'Goodbye My Love' was an even more commercial outing.  And here's where if was kind of interesting. If you were coming at this from an Asia/Journey/Kansas musical standpoint, this wasn't half bad radio product.  Tuneful and quite commercial, it wouldn't have sounded half bad on FM radio; especially if the song had been edited down to about half of the original eight minutes running time.  

3.) Ain't Today Tomorrow's Yesterday   (Chris Karrer - John Weinzierl - Klaus Eberl - Stefan Zauner - Peter Leopold) - 7:28  rating: ** stars

With Karrer taking lead vocals, 'Ain't Today Tomorrow's Yesterday' found the band trying to exhibit a bit of their progressive credentials.  Full of melodic and rhythmic changes, the main effect was to underscore why Eberl had been hired as lead singer and to make you thankful this was one of the shorter compositions.   

 

(side 2)
1.) Hallelujah (instrumental)   (Chris Karrer -
John Weinzierl - Klaus Eberl - Stefan Zauner - Peter Leopold) - 4:16  rating: ** stars

And just when you thought it couldn't get much worse, side two opened up with something that sounded like an ABBA-meets-Genesis slice of dance rock.  I won't go as far as labeling it disco, but the instrumental 'Hallelujah' sure came pretty close.  

2.) Feeling Uneasy   (Chris Karrer - John Weinzierl - Klaus Eberl - Stefan Zauner -Peter Leopold) - 6:10  rating: *** stars

Okay, if you resign yourself to the fact this is a pop album, then 'Feeling Uneasy' was actually modestly enjoyable.  The melody didn't have a single original note, or thought, but playing spot-the-influence on this one was fun  (lots of Lake moves), and I'll readily admit that I got a kick out of the treated sax solos.  rating:

3.) Live In Jericho (instrumental)   (Chris Karrer - John Weinzierl - Klaus Eberl - Stefan Zauner -  Peter Leopold) - 13:15  rating: ** stars

Clocking in at over thirteen minutes, 'Live In Jericho' found the band showing off their "jam" skills with each member getting a bit of spotlight time.  I'm a big fan of extended musical workouts and this one certainly had a couple of entertaining minutes.  Eberl got a chance to showcase his excellent bass work, while Zauner took over the end of the song with a cool mix of keyboard, synthesizers, and sound effects.  For anyone interested in saving time and skipping around, the spotlight sequence was 1.)  Leopold, 2.) Eberl, 3.) Weinzierl, 4.) Karrer, and 5. Zauner).  Unfortunately those were the exceptions, and unless you felt a need for some Niagara-styled drum and percussion workouts, overall there simply wasn't a great deal on the extended closer that warranted your time or effort.

 

 

 

BACK TO BADCAT FRONT PAGE

BACK TO BADCAT CATALOG PAGE

BACK TO BADCAT PAYMENT INFORMATION