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Amon Düül II


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5 stars A far cry from early Amon Duul II recordings which comprised extended psychedelic instrumental freakout explorations. After making the transition to more structured music with albums like Wolf City, Hijack and Vive La Trance Made In Germany was Amon Duul at it`s creative peak. It revealed solid songwriting abilities which featured orchestrations and an array of guest musicians with an underlying theme of old world traditional Germany in the new world. And unlike many European bands such as Omega, Jane and Eloy there`s no problem with the English language here and a lyric sheet is even provided. Originally released in Germany as a double album it was cut down to a single unit for North American release which suprisingly doesn`t detract from it conceptually or musically. If there is one Amon Duul album which captures the essence of 1970`s prog-rock this is it. Renate Kanup one of the few female voices to appear in progressive rock really shines here on compositions like Metropolis, Ludwig and the Blue Grotto. No comprehensive library of 1970`s progressive rock would be complete without this magnificent Krautrock gem.
Report this review (#27845)
Posted Monday, March 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars If you took this album, and ADII's first album Phallus Dei and played them both for an unknowing listener, they would never even suspect it was the same band! How did these guys make such a radical evolution into spotless pop craftsmen as is evident on this album? You won't believe me until you hear it, but songs like "Ludwig" have an almost Beatlesesque quality to them (albeit on MUCH more drugs). Ambitious vocal harmony arrangements, pristine production values, orchestral flourishes... Amon Duul?? It blows my mind. Anyway, this album is a masterwork of a completely different sort than their earlier releases, so naturally many fans will not still be onboard at this point. Short, vaguely Floydian spacy instrumental breaks replace the full-on sonic assaults of yore, and the main feature is... songs. Beautiful, sometimes achingly melancholic, sometimes witty and humorous, always honed like a gem... this is top-notch songwriting without ever losing ADII's keen eye for ambition and, ahem, stoniness. As is noted by my fellow reviewer, the boys (and girl) in the band handle the English language splendidly here, and Renate Knaup's voice is in peak form. This is a veritable shipload of music (double lp) so I can't even begin to describe songs, but rest assured that if you appreciate gems of songcraft and brief, spaced out instrumental voyages, you will love this music. Yet another stunning accomplishment by this sneaky little band.
Report this review (#27846)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is psychedelic progressive rock. The music is rather complex and the electric guitar can be quite aggressive. There are some orchestral arrangements in the background. The female lead singer has a beautiful voice. There are good and catchy bits, but sometimes the band sound bizarre with their psychedelic patterns. The compositions are very German and it is often experimental.
Report this review (#27847)
Posted Wednesday, April 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars The group continue their lurch toward the mainstream with an abrupt left turn into conceptual territory. Surprisingly, it turns out to be their most vital album since WOLF CITY.

A curious mix of straight rock with a conceptual bent, cabaret-styled numbers ("Blue Grotto"), folk-rock and curious electronic bagatelles (courtesy Falk Rogner and producer Jürgen Korduletsch) acting as the sonic glue holding it all together. I get the feeling that most of this music was instigated by the mysterious Nando Tischer, who sang lead on much of this album, and seemed to fall off the face of the Earth after its release.

Apart from Chris Karrer's lone spotlight piece, the futuristic eight-minute "Mr. Kraut's Jinx", there's little here that resembles the ADII of old. Much of it's a very tongue-in-cheek overview of German history-just check out the "interview" that precedes "La Krautoma", itself a cheeky version of an Argentine tango ("La Paloma") that enjoyed huge popularity in 1950's Germany.

Renate comes off looking best here, with numerous spotlight pieces ("Metropolis", "Blue Grotto", the folkish "Wide Angle"). It would be her last album with the band for many years.

Report this review (#44656)
Posted Monday, August 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Probably AD2's most underrated album -- it's a conceptual song-cycle about "German history" more or less. There are a lot of very memorable tunes here (personally my favorite is "Wide Angle" sung by the awesome Renate Knaup, who is Germany's answer to Grace Slick.) I also appreciate the variety of instrumentation, from the Floyd-style electronic sounds that bridge some of the songs, to the folk-like "Emigrant Song" which is the only "krautrock" song ever with a banjo!!! ("Zee krauts are komink to zee ooo-ess- ahh!!") The only tune that approaches the trancerock classic "kraut" style is "La Krautoma", which is just the traditional tune "La Paloma" delivered kraut-style. Also includes a jokey interview with Adolf Hitler (which apparently is what made this LP very controversial, and partly explains why it was reissued with half the songs -- including the Hitler bit -- cut out.)

I think this is a very important record from the 70's Kraut era, absolutely unique among the Amon Duul II catalog, and for that matter there is not much else to compare it to by anyone else either. Superb!

Report this review (#50638)
Posted Friday, October 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars AMON DUUL II were probably among the most "German-sounding" of all the Krautrock bands, with that often serious and menacing "Teutonic" or "Gothic" feel. On the other hand they successfully destroyed the myth of Germans as being too serious and humourless people, with their often hilariously funny lyrics and crazy mocking vocals and arrangements. "Made in Germany" is seemingly a sort of satiric look at their homeland, starting with symphonic orchestra intro and recalling several notable German historic figures like Kaiser Wilhelm, Ludwig (van Beethoven I guess), Fritz Lang or Adolf Hitler, along with German personification in the character of certain Mr. Kraut. And while the overall sound picture of this conceptual album is filled with jocular personas and backed by very competent and strong musicianship, and especially the excellent vocals of Renate Knaup, the double-disc set seems overloaded with patchy collection of tunes and jolly moments, often without any direction of where the adventure leads to. It is not the problem that they turned poppy at times, but the problem is for me that I can, after several thorough listenings, select only 1-2 songs as really fine compositions, namely "Loosey Girls" and "Dreams". The remaining stuff is interesting enough to catch attention of most of Kraut-rockers, but perhaps not so for general prog fans. Still, this is a good album which is an acquired taste, but for me slightly lesser effort than "Vive la Trance". 3 stars sharp!
Report this review (#55743)
Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Made In Germany" was a real musical transformation for AMON DUUL II and a wonderful progressive album creating the first "Kraut Musical". Told over 2 LP's, this is a sort of dark story of German history put to a slight vaudevillian/cabaret vibe with all that strange DUUL'ish characteristics still intact. The early AMON DUUL II are amongst my favourites in my collection, but this 1975 release is really a solid work of art and deserves to be reviewed in different light. Whimsical at times (and thankfully so considering the theme), yet certainly vintage DUUL.. creative music with a wide variety of moods and tempos. This would have to be the most lyrically profound album they ever recorded and I love Renate Knaup's vocals throughout. Musically this album is also quite moving with some fantastic instrumentation ranging from vintage space jam Krautrock to smoke filled Cabaret themes. Please be aware that a much more condensed version of this album exists (also under the same title) but was released on a single LP at the time.
Report this review (#72088)
Posted Thursday, March 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars The year is 1975 and AMON DUUL II release "Made In Germany" a sprawling double concept album about German history. Not really. Come on this is AMON DUUL II ! The concept is about some of the most well known figures in German history: King Ludwig, Wilhelm the Emperor, Adolf Hitler and Bismarck. They all have been captured by the Krautopians from the planet Krautopia, with the sole purpose of sending them back to earth as a Krautrock band (of course) to destroy the planet. The band take Europe by storm and then the U.S.A., heck they even have a date to play for the preseident. There is an interview with drummer Adolf Hitler featured on one song that is hilarious. Anyway as they get set to play at the White House, Hitler mistakenly ? pushes the wrong button in the White House control room and the whole Earth blows to smitherines. Yeah this is a bizarre story but...this is AMON DUUL II.

The music itself is very much hit and miss as you might expect with the 20 tracks they have composed. The first track "Overture" is pure Classical music and I dislike it immensly. Sorry Classical music fans but that's one genre that does nothing for me but make me cringe. "Wir Wollen" is great with that driving rhythm. "Wilhelm, Wilhelm" has some excellent guitar in it while the vocal style is very 60's sounding. "SM II Peng" is a cool instrumental. Another highlight is "Metropolis" which again has that 60's flavour. Renate shines on vocals. One of my favs. "Mr.Kraut's Jinx" builds with the sound of wind in the background. Vocals (male) a minute in are spoken. Violin 3 minutes in and later at 5 minutes.The guitar come in with aggression 7 minutes in as the tempo picks up. Great sound 8 minutes in.

Side two of the original LP starts with "Wide-Angle" which features Renate again singing beautifully. Hard not to like this one. "Loosey Girls" is good with the male vocals and prominant guitar. Nice bass then dual horns. The guitar stands out after 4 minutes. "Top Of The Mud" is fantastic with it's dark sound and male vocals.The guitar lights it up after 2 minutes. "5.5.55" is that radio interview with the drummer Adolf Hitler. It's so funny. "La Krautoma" has a good beat as the guitar comes in. Great sound on this one. They really let loose after 3 minutes.

The same old story really, if they had condensed this double album to one record it would be 4 stars. Lots to like here though, especially Renate.

Report this review (#189966)
Posted Wednesday, November 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Made in germany has to be one of the best amon duul 11 albums the way it starts and ends is great its even got a bit of brass on this,the first song overture starts like an orchestra[violins and stuff]which is great,when i first heard this track i thought is this amon duul 11 but the cover said it was so i believed it its just it sounded not like amon duul11 at first,then we have wir wollen which only lasts 1m.33 has to be one of my favorite duul songs as the guitar and everything about this is just excellent,wilhelm,willhelm sounds very german which is a good thing by the way and sounds like all duul sing in this at same time in away,sm 11 peng has organ in it and sounds delightful with bass and guitar a good track,elevators meet whispering another short song starts quite and trippy and is a weird song but great,metropolis a proper song is a another good song with renate singing and shes in fine form this is just brilliant,ludwig starts with acoustic guitars and with renate singing with someone else [who i,m not sure probably tischer] and this in middle has a drummy bit at end which makes it come to a good end,the kings chocolate waltz has to be one of my favorite duul songs with the organ sound and the trippy bit sounding so good its addictive,blue grotto starts mellow and sounds brilliant with renate sounding quite and delightful this song live would of sounded great i think,next is mr krauts jinx at 8m.44 with chris karrer on vocals and sounds like karrer typically kind of make you smile as his voice has a kind of weird sound to it but its something which is good and at around the 7 min mark its really gets going and the rest of the song is just the best on whole album with brass in it to,wide an-angle has renate on vocals which sounds great again with her voice which makes it more duul sonding like,three- eyed overdriveanother short song which sounds alot like the kings chocolate waltz is good and i,m glad it sounds like kings choc[written by same people],emigrant song has i think robby heibl on vocals and sounds good to and i love the organ,loosey girls has vocals on it which go out of tune on purpose i think and sound good to me and i think alot of people would like this as its one you can easyly sing to,top of the mud starts with good vocals which are enjoyable but i,m not that keen on the little bit of synthesizer now and again,dreams starts with piano which i love and sounds brilliant and sounds very german and one of the best tracks on whole album,gala gnome starts with trippy keyboard sound and another good track,5.5.55a kind of comedy chat with hitler and it just kind of makes me smile everytime as the hitler bit sounds like him,la krautoma is just got to be another of my favorite duul songs which i play twice everytime and its a track i will play for years to come and has good drums in it too which makes la krautoma one of the best duul songs around this just rocks everytime,excessive spray ends the album and starts with a trippy sound and a great way to end an album which every prog krautrock and rock fan should own a album of good quality,i think made in germany is the last good album by amon duul as the other albums after this havent got the spirit and you shoulkd only go up to this for the duul albums but my other reviews on other albums will have other songs worth having so read on them,i give this 5 stars.
Report this review (#204585)
Posted Friday, February 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars In the previous years, Amon Düül II had changed from dazzling acid Kraut to mainstream art-rock. just like its predecessors this is an album showing a band that lost its spirit. The conceptual idea behind the album was fabricated by producer Jorgen S Korduletsch and takes precedence over the music. The band has a hard time showing and enthusiasm for it, and just as on Hi-Jack they are largely assisted by a battalion of session musicians.

The album does some sort of twisted take on German history, so we get lots of lyrics, humor, banter, silly voices and so on. Various musical styles are used and at best they have a kind of space-rock quality to them, reminding in places to the Captain Lockheed album from Hawkwind's Rob Calvert. When the songs are upbeat they sometimes have a mild garage-rock quality to them (such as Wilhelm Wilhelm), but such occasions are rare. Lots of the material consists of 60s beat-pop and tedious balladry with corny string arrangements, cheesy saxes and other producer's tricks.

As an uninterrupted 70 minutes of material this is a real disappointment. One would expect at least to find a decent average quality from such endeavor, and preferably we would love a couple of real standouts to figure as landmarks through the long journey. Both conditions are not met here. And that is without mentioning the horrid orchestral opening of the album and the formulaic self-parody of La Krautoma.

From what I've read, the worst was yet to come for Amon Düül II, but this one is as deep as I'm willing to sink along with them. The band realized they were falling apart and disregard this album very much, but they were unable to reverse the downward trend, which must have been really frustrating given their extraordinary talents.

Report this review (#378746)
Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#1041109)
Posted Saturday, September 21, 2013 | Review Permalink

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