zondag 28 november 2010

Amon Düül II - 1974 - Hijack

Amon Düül II

01. I can't wait part 1 + 2 (6:18)
02. Mirror (4:21)
03. Traveller (4:23)
04. You're not alone (6:55)
05. Explode like a star (4:00)
06. Da Guadeloop (7:03)
07. Lonely woman (4:44)
08. Liquid whisper (3:24)
09. Archy the robot (3:30)

- Chris Karrer / acoustic & electric guitars, violin, Soprano sax, vocals
- Renate Knaup-Krötenschwanz / vocals
- Peter Leopold: drums, percussion, acoustic guitar
- Lothat Meid / bass, acoustic guitar, vocals, string arrangements
- Falk U. Rogner / synthesizers
- John Weinzierl / acoustic & electric guitars

Guest musicians:
- Chris Balder / strings
- Thor Baldursson / keyboards
- Bob Chatwin / trumpet
- Lee Harper / trumpet
- Hermann Jalowitzki / snare drum
- Bobby Jones / sax
- Olaf Kübler / flute, Soprano sax
- Rudy Nagora / sax
- Ludwig Popp / Waldhorn
- Wild Willy / accordion, percussion, vocals

With it`s Beatlesque string intro on the first track I Can`t Wait Part I, it is immediately evident to those familiar with previous work from the band that this is going to be a different Amon Duul II record. If the streamlining that occurred on the band`s 1972 Carnival In Babylon album caused a stir amongst fans then the cohesive song structures, vocal harmonies and orchestral arrangements on Amon Duul`s 7th studio album, Hijack, would prove to be even more mutinying and harder to swallow. By the time sessions began for Hijack, Amon Duul II had pretty much abandoned the free form cosmic experimental spaced out collage approach to their music and the album marked a period of a band in transition and introspection. Although not a concept album per se ( that would come on the subsequent Made In Germany album ) each track on the album has it`s own special individual message and musical identity making it one of the most diverse and interesting records in the band`s catologue.
Even so, there are echoes of Amon Duul II`s acid soaked past on tracks such as the psyched out Explode Like A Star presented in two sections with cool spacey synths and Renate Kanup`s female vocal interpolations. The instrumental Da Guadaloop with it`s tripped out primordial rythms predates disco with a psychedelic twist replete with elephant roars and female drill sergeant commands amongst other sonic novelties It is certainly the most bizarre track on the album which should satisfy the long haired freaky people who were into earlier albums like Yeti, Phallus Dei and Tanz Der Lemminge.
Apart from these two cosmic excursions Amon Duul had never sounded so commercial but at the same time retained some lyrical dark visions they were known for, especially on the introductory two parter Can`t Wait ( Parts I & II ) and the danceable Mirror which reflect on a bleak future and the guilty confessions of a TV addict respectively, emphasized by the lackadaisical vocals of bassist Lothar Meid who had returned to the band from 18 Karat to join the original lineup for the Hijack project. In fact most of the album was the brainchild of Meid`s who contributed the orchestral arrangements which featured 8 guest musicians. The album`s name even comes from Meid`s nickname which was Jack.
Other tracks offer chasms of contrast fluctuating from comical proportions to pensive atmospheres. Archy the Robot ( see album cover art ) is about a a mischievous toy robot with a mind of his own who travels through time and space and kidnaps Satan and God along the way accompanied by a cabaret-like brass section! The thoughtful You`re Not Alone whose simplistic droning guitar chords support Meid`s once again sombre yet passionate vocals about being at peace with oneself while Traveller and Liquid Whisper feature Renate Kanup singing fluid and lyrically vocals rather than her previous witchy vocalizations as heard on tracks like Archangel`s Thunderbird or Green Bubble Raincoated Man. One of the most unusual musical deviations for Amon Duul II up to the time is to be heard on a cover version of an Ornette Coleman composition, the dark lament Lonely Woman with a subtlle jazzy bossa nova beat whispered rather than sung by multi instrumentalist Chris Karrer underscored by a smoky tenor sax accompaniment.
It`s unfortunate that the acid drenched relentless freaking out heard on earlier Amon Duul 2 albums create false impressions, get more attention and overshadow most of the band`s recording career. Hijack is a testament to the songwriting and actual musical abilities of of the original lineup plus the crucial contributions of Lothar Meid. It`s a pity that it constantly comes under scrutiny so often for being too commercial. Some critics have even called it their worst album! In essence Hijack depicts a band finally coming of age and a fitting prelude to 1975`s Made In Germany concept opus magus. One of the best and diverse Amon Duul albums where the individual members demonstrate that they can adapt to just about any style. Not to be ignored by anyone who wants to explore the weird and wonderful world of Amon Duul II.

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