Amon Düül II - Hijack

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Garden Of Delights
Catalog Number: CD 079
Format: CD
Total Time: 43:18:00

Hijack was the eighth release from the German prog band Amon Düül II. Formed in Munich as Amon Düü in 1967 ? named after the Egyptian god Amon and the Turkish figure Düül ? the nonet played their first gig in May 1968. By fall that year, they had split into two camps; it is the second camp that came to be known as Amon Düül II, and was the successful of the two camps, releasing their seminal debut album Phallus Dei in 1969. As you have come to expect from a Garden Of Delights, the band's history is followed in detail with information behind this release. There is one little detail that I think is incorrect however, minor as it is: "[On "Traveller," vocalist] Lothar Meid goes low down?" Well, I think actually it's Renate Knaup on vocals, sounding at times a bit like Carly Simon, at other times, taking her voice lower and a little more earthy. But uh, compared to Meid on the other tracks, it definitely isn't he singing. Oops.

Nevertheless, this is, if not an excellent album, a very good one with some great and neat moments. My favorite is "Mirror," which is lead into from the Beatles-esque-esque opening tracks "I Can't Wait (Part 1)" and the darker, throbbier "I Can't Wait (Part 2)." It's that throbbiness that leads right into positively churning on "Mirror." What I love about it are the funky brass elements ? saxes and trumpets with a big, warm, bold sound. Vocalist Meid sings in a half singing/half speaking manner, deep of voice, and just a bit shy of monotone. It plays well against the bright, upbeat, happy rhythm the brass makes and the churning of bass, guitar and drums.

But let's back up a bit. If you've ever wondered what Bob Dylan would have sounded like as a German prog rock artist, then you need only listen to Meid on those opening tracks. And most especially on the sparse "You're Not Alone" which follows the same downbeat on guitar throughout ? strum, strum ? strum, strum. You might think that would get monotonous or boring, but it is surrounded by strings that provide a steely, echoey effect. Drums are a subtle element, helping to punctuate the strumming guitar. In the mix, too, you can hear a soprano sax (Olaf Kübler) that, while it remains in the background, sounds a bit like howling wolves and yet not quite. Once it comes to the fore, we get a peaceful, high and sweet tone. It seems there's another singer/songwriter on my mind of late, that being Guy Manning. And while Meid's voice is a bit rougher than Manning's, I could easily hear this as a Manning piece.

"De Guadaloop" contains just about everything you could think of, starting out with a rather funky drums/percussion beat, joined by an equally funky bass, some sparkly guitar that recalls the theme music in many a 70s TV series (Starsky and Hutch, S.W.A.T., Police Woman, name your series, one time or another, they've used that sound). But, throw in some yelling, trumpeting elephants? all sorts of sound samples. Well, ask yourself this: what would happen if Santana, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Lynyrd Skynyrd or Thin Lizzy, all jammed together on one song (with an orchestra's string section as guest)? I don't know, but I think it would sound a bit like this ? aside from the audio samples dropped in. I mean, there's the fiery, throaty guitar lead; followed a second later by sweeping strings, followed by a jogging bass rhythm taking the lead?

"Lonely Woman" is an arrangement of an Ornette Coleman tune, with Chris Karrer singing in an almost whisper, both seductive and sinister, kinda haunting. It's a dry delivery, the piece deriving it's warmth from the instrumental backing. That backing is suitably jazzy, shuffling rhythm with a warm, lyrical piano, a jolly bass, and taut drumming. And, of course, there's a sax solo that sounds great.

"Liquid Whisper" is a mellow, watery, shimmery track that gets even lighter towards the end, when in a high voice Knaup sings again; if anything evoked the late 60's Summer Of Love, this song does. It's one that's nice for a few listens, but might get a little annoying after a while?

Some other thoughts: "Explode Like A Star" is a diverse track, going from fairly "normal" rock to an eccentric section that reminds of Frank Zappa and John Lennon (post-Beatles)? and a bit like Jefferson Starship? "Archy The Robot" is a jaunty tune about a Archy, a robot out to hijack God. Very much I thought of the Kinks, who often shrouded some point in a humourous package. That's true here, too, with loopy sounds of trumpets, sax, etc.

I liked a lot about this release, especially that brass; and there's a certain attraction to Meid's dry, understated delivery. For connoisseurs of German psyche prog, the release of this on CD will be news to your ears, as it hasn't been available on CD since 1990; and, of course, there's the bonus of the extensive liner notes. Others will find much to like here as well.

Released by Nova (1974, 6.22056), Atco/Atlantic (1975, SD 36-108/87912/K 50136/4.22056) , Castle (1990, CLC 5009)

I Can't Wait (Part 1 & 2) (6:18) / Mirror (4:21) / Traveller (4:23) / You're Not Alone (6:55) / Explode Like a Star (4:00) / Da Guadeloop (7:03) / Lonely Woman (4:44) / Liquid Whisper (3:24) / Archy the Robot (3:30)

Chris Karrer - vocals, guitars, violin, tenor sax
Peter Leopold - drums, percussion, guitar
John Weinzierl - guitars
Renate Knaup - vocals
Falk Rogner - synth
Lothar Meid - bass, guitars, vocals


Chris Balder - strings
Ludwig Popp - Waldhorn
Lee Harper, Bob Chadwin - trumpets
Bobby Jones, Rudy Nagora - saxes
Thor Baldursson - keyboards
Olaf Klübler - flute, soprano sax
Hermann Jalowitzki - snare drum
Wild Willy - accordion, percussion, vocals

Phallus Dei (1969)
Yeti (1970)
Dance Of The Lemmings/Tanz Der Lemminge (1971)
Carnival In Babylon (1972)
Wolf City (1972)
Vive La Trance (1973)
Live In London (1973)
Hijack (1974/1975/1990/2003)
Lemmingmania (1975)
Made In Germany (1975)
Pyragony X (1976)
Almost Alive (1978)
Only Human (1978)
Vortex (1981)
Surrounded By The Bars (1993)
Nada Moonshine # (1995)
Eternal Flashback (1995)
Kobe (Reconstructions) (1996)
Live In Tokyo (1996)
Flawless (1997)
Once Upon A Time - Best of 1969 - 1999 (2001)

Genre: Psychedelic/Space Rock

Origin DE

Added: July 6th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1493
Language: english


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