Amon Düül II — Carnival in Babylon
(Revisited Records SPV 305352 CD, 1972/2007, CD)
Amon Düül II — Wolf City
(Revisited Records SPV 305372 CD, 1972/2007, CD)
Amon Düül II — Vive la Trance
(Revisited Records SPV 305382 CD, 1973/2007, CD)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2008-01-01
Revisited Records is busy reissuing classic Krautrock albums by Klaus Schulze, Kraan, Guru Guru, Holger Czukay, and Amon Düül II. These latest discs are Amon Düül II’s fourth, fifth, and sixth releases. Although these three discs have been reissued a couple of times already on CD, these current releases are augmented with bonus tracks, beautiful digi-packaging, and clean sound. Carnival in Babylon was Amon Düül II’s first album to focus on short songs after the long extended improvisations of their first three releases. In 1972, the music press viewed this album as an attempt by the band to produce a commercial and exploitative LP. A comical overreaction as the band went on from here to record their best releases, Wolf City and Vive la Trance, while still retaining their experimental approach and free spirit that so delighted their fan base. The bonus tracks are the 10-minute “Skylight” (a reworking of “Restless Skylight-Transistor Child” from Tanz der Lemminge) and the cool 18-minute ethnic/Krautrock jam “Tatzelwurmloch.” The liner notes give no information about any of the bonus tracks, so I am assuming that since they sound new they are contemporary compositions, which are infinitely better than the music they recorded when they reformed in the mid 90s.
Wolf City was the first album to focus on Renate Knaup’s extraordinary singing style, and all of the songs, though mostly short, captured the cosmic avant-garde atmosphere of their earlier recordings. As a bonus this reissue includes the excellent bonus tracks “Kindermörderlied,” “Mystic Blutsturz,” and “Düülirium,” which seem out of place when compared to “Surrounded by the Stars,” “Wolf City,” and “Deutsch Nepal,” Wolf City was my introduction to the band in the 70s and remains my favorite.
Vive la Trance was a masterpiece of integrating rock songs with black humor, sensuality, complex rhythms, dissonance, and harsh sarcasm. However, the German music press did not appreciate this new direction and panned the album. Vive la Trance contains a number of excellent songs that helped propel their international fame: “Jalousie,” “Mozambique,” and “Apocalyptic Bore.” As a bonus, this CD contains the funky song “Hands up Fool,” Chris Karrer’s soaring violin soloing on “Pink Purple,” the comical and odd “Look,” and heavy plodding of “Bomb.” Once again these songs sound out of place with the original music, which is a bit disconcerting after having immersed yourself in the Amon Düül sound of the 70s. Overall, these are minor complaints and we are fortunate to have these reissues and bonus material demonstrating that the band remains vibrant even after 40 years.
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more
Steve Gorn, Tony Levin, Jerry Marotta - From the Caves of the Iron Mountain – Take a woodwind player and the early 80s rhythm section for Peter Gabriel (circa Security), put them together in a cave and you'd be surprised what they come up with! The second release from King... (1998) » Read more