Amon Duul 


Band members                             Related acts

  line up xx

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

- Peter Leopold -- drums, percussion, acoustic guitar

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

- Luther Meid -- bass, guitar, vocals

- Falk U. Rogner -- synthesizers

- John Weinzierl -- lead guitar

 

  backing musicians:

- Chris Balder -- strings

- Thorn Balursson - keyboards

- Bob Chatwin -- trumpet

- Lee Harper -- trumpet

- Bobby Jones - 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 -- drums, percussion, acoustic guitar

- John Weinzierl -- lead guitar

- Stefan Zauner -- vocals, keyboards, synthesizers

 

 

 

 

 

- Achtzehn Karat Gold

- Amon Duul

- Bundesverwaltungsorchester

- Embryo

- Gila (Daniel "Danny" Fichelscher)

- Al Gromer Khan & Hi s Totals

- Hawkwind

- Munchner Freiheit

- Niagara (Daniel "Danny" Fichelscher)

- Pack

- Popul Vuh

- Sameti

- Utopia

 

 

 

 


 

Genre: progressive

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Hijack

Company: ATCO

Catalog: SD 36-108
Year:
 1974

Country/State: 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.

 

- 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 ?    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 ?    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.    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.    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.    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 ....    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.       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.  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" ...   rating: **** stars  (I gave it an extra star for the totally freaked out lyrics)

 

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.   

 

"Hijack" track listing:
(side 1)

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

2.) Mirror   (John Weinzierl) - 4:21

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

For anyone interested, the band has a nice web presence ay:

http://www.amonduul.de/main.html

 

 

 


Genre: progressive

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Almost Alive

Company: NOVA

Catalog: 6.23.305
Year:
 1977

Country/State: 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).  

 

- 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.  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.   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.   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.   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: *** 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.  rating: ** stars

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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