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Amon Düül II - Made in Germany  CD (album) cover

MADE IN GERMANY

Amon Düül II

 

Krautrock

3.50 | 63 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars I had such high hopes for this immense double work from German Krautrocker's Amon Duul 2. Some progressive related double albums have been the most ambitious, exciting and challenging releases for various bands, urging the listener to keep playing them over and over to reveal their hard-won quality. But sadly this is certainly not the Amon Duul equivalent of `Tales From Topographic Oceans', `The Lamb...' or even `Ummagumma', those being complex works that require endless plays to reveal their quality. Admittedly, `Made In Germany' presents the band at their most incredibly focused, polished and melodic, but that is also just it's problem! Gone are most of the rough edges, psychedelic haze and traces of danger that made the band such legends of the Krautrock genre. The music offered here, not only by the seven main band members but six additional guests, is high quality all the same, so carefully composed and put together, which is very admirable, but also a little depressing.

Broken up between more streamlined accessible tracks (the concept of that alone is kind of worrying for an Amon Duul 2 album, especially considering that fragmented and ragged approach was always one of the band's charms) and instrumental interludes that cover a number of styles, the 20 track album can not be faulted for pure ambition. There is no denying the band has worked incredibly hard on writing compact, catchy and accessible pop/rock numbers that still squeeze in their recognizable instrumental talents in little bursts, switching from country rockers, cabaret, folk and acoustic strummers. But when they rarely even offer the lysergic and psychedelic colour over the top, which even a lesser album of stream-lined numbers by them such as `Vive La Trance' still had, it becomes quite disappointing. Sadly the instrumental passages are not particularly exciting either, more resembling a bunch of fragments or discarded passages that never really achieve much or are particularly well developed. Sure, they're almost all fine to listen to at the time, but they won't have you racing back to hear them again any time soon.

Lets start with the vocal pieces. `Wilhelm Wilhelm' is a short grooving funky rocker that's all dirty bluesy guitar wailing and catchy male/female melodies not unlike the Jefferson Airplane. `Metropolis' is a cheery mid-tempo catchy pop/rocker from Renate, nicely played but nothing more, and the female chorus vocals are kind of dated. The dueling male/female vocals of the energetic `Ludwig' initially again starts off like the Airplane, before an overly peppy and comical chorus almost brings the thing undone. The drum attack assault over grand orchestral strings and acoustic guitar provides a bit more interest for adventurous prog listeners. `Blue Grotto' is a laid-back dreamy chill out with gentle shuffling percussion, thick punchy bass and shimmering guitar over a sexy purring vocal from Renate. The first LP ends with a goodie - `Mr Krauts Jinx' has a nice dreamy atmosphere and a romantically weary vocal from Robby, while the band works through everything from uneasy acoustic passages, glistening electric piano ambience, tense orchestration and frantic drumming, with a dark breakneck rock-out jam in the finale, totally unhinged and probably the closest we get to a proper glimpse of that classic Duul sound here.

`Wide Angle' is a very upbeat and classy pop number sung by Renate, and I have no idea why it's not on the single disc version that focused on the more accessible tracks! It has a sweet wistful lyric and foot-tapping melody wrapped around nice jaunty guitar soloing, and I really dig the `I give my life to the sunrise' flowery line! `Emigrant Song' is a country rocker that jumps around in tempo with some nice electric piano. `Loosey Girls' is a grand orchestrated ballad sung by Robby that successfully balances wistful reflection and sadly dark drama well, topped off with a moving trumpet/sax/brass solo in the middle. Probably one of the real highlights of the album. `Top Of The Mud' is a raucous hip-swiveling boogie with darting flute and swirling Moog. `Dreams' is a fiery waltz with a stirring violin solo in the middle, I love the lines `I've been wearing fancy beads, and trying to plant the seeds, but I didn't see the light 'til I saw you. Dreams are our connection!'. `Gala Gnome' is a strutting 70's rocker with some wailing electric guitar-work but also an obtrusive horn section, `5.5.55' is merely an offensive and silly mock interview.

This full 20 track version also contains 8 instrumental pieces. The opening orchestral `Overture' starts the album is a suitably grand manner, but Lord does it feel like it just goes on forever, it's 5 minutes feeling closer to 15! Certainly the free-wheeling `Wir Wollen' gets your hopes up, with it's rollicking guitar, brass bluster and howling cries. `SM II Peng' is a fairly directionless and repetitive heavy guitar strum over eerie electronic synths, nice but could have been developed into something even better, same for `Elevators Meet Whispering's cold electronic pulsing over wavering Theremin. `The King's Chocolate Waltz' is a slow-tempo unwinding electronic hum over acid-fried folk guitar and somber organ that certainly sounds closer to their earlier albums, and probably could have easily found a home on `Wolf City'.

`Three Eyed Overdrive' is a brief murky electronic experiment. The first melodic half of `La Krautoma' is cool, although I'm sure much of the melody is ripped straight from that `Darling, save the last dance for me' song, so thankfully the second half tears into some menacing brooding jamming like the good Duul days of old, all scuzzy electronics, dirty electric guitar noise and whirlwind drum soloing. Sadly it feels like a case of `too little, too late', and the fadeout mid-jam is totally unforgivable. The album wraps on a directionless yet hypnotic fragment of electronic experimentation `Excessive Spray'.

`Made In Germany' was also released in an edited 12 track/single LP version, apparently with the hopes of catching the wider interest of English speaking listeners and commercial audiences. Nothing came from that plan, although the single disc remained a cohesive work for what it was. But progressive rock/Krautrock fans will prefer this more varied and extended double work, even though it still sees the band a long way from their heady early days. Where has that feral danger, the sinister debauched sexiness and unpredictable unease gone? The playing is still superb, although it's a little sad to hear the band reigned in so much around accessible melodies to stop them showing their real worth. So, not exactly scraping the bottom of the barrel, and certainly not a case of the band simply repeating themselves, just that it sees them head in a direction prog/Krautrock fans won't find a lot of interest in.

Three stars all the same.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |

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