Amon Düül II arose from Amon Düül a group of radical musicians and other creatives who lived in a Munich commune. They led the scene which came out of the student led revolutionary movement which started in 1968. This movement rejected the dominance of American music and Germany’s own middle of the road schlager music. The founding members were Chris Karrer, Dieter Serfas, Falk Rogner John Weinzierl and Renate Knaup-Krötenschwan. They released their first album Phallus Dei in 1969. They are regarded as pioneers of what became known as Krautrock or Kosmische music.
Tanz Der Lemmings (Dance of the Lemmings) was the band’s third studio album. United Artists released the album in March 1971.
The original track listing was;
Click on the tracks to listen
- In The Glass Garden (Karrer)
- Pull Down Your Mask (Karrer/Rogner)
- Prayer To The Silence (Karrer)
- Telephonecomplex (Karrer)
Side B – Restless Skylight-Transistor-Child
- Landing in a Ditch (Weinzierl)
- Dehypnotized Toothpaste (Weinzierl)
- A Short Stop at the Transylvanian Brain-Surgery
- Race From Here To Your Ears, Part 1 – Little Tornadoes (Weinzierl/Rogner)
- Race From Here To Your Ears, Part 2 – Overheated Tiara (Weinzierl)
- Race From Here To Your Ears, Part 3 – The Flyweighted Five (Weinzierl)
- Riding on a Cloud (Weinzierl)
- Paralyzed Paradise (Weinzierl)
- HG Wells’ Take Off (Weinzierl)
Side C – Chamsin Sountrack
- The Marilyn Monroe-Memorial-Church (Improvisation) (Karrer/Weinzierl/Meid/Rogner)
- Chewing Gum Telegram (Karrer/Weinzierl/Meid/Rogner)
- Stumbling Over Melted Moonlight (Karrer/Weinzierl/Meid/Rogner)
- Toxicological Whispering (Karrer/Weinzierl/Meid/Rogner)
- Renate Knaup-Krötenschwanz – vocals
- Chris Karrer – guitars, vocals, violin
- John Weinzierl – guitars, vocals, piano
- Falk Rogner – organ, electronics
- Lothar Meid – bass guitars, vocals
- Peter Leopold – drums, percussion, piano
- Jimmy Jackson – organ, choir-organ, piano
- Al Gromer – sitar
- Rolf Zacher – vocals
Why I Chose The Album
My elder brother Ken was at college between 1968 and 1972. The BBC had launched Radio 1 in 1967. This offered us the latest music aimed at our age range but it focused on singles. On the other hand the alternative culture of college life at the time meant that Ken and his cohorts were a fountain of cutting edge album based music.
One week in 1971 Ken brought home what would become a famous sampler from the 1970’s; United Artist’s All Good Clean Fun. This would be a starting point for some of my favourite artists and several albums I have compiled for this blog. “Race From Here To Your Ears” by Amon Düül II was one such track. It appeared on side three of that double album. It was like nothing I had heard before. I was immediately hooked by the grinding guitar opening and the indecipherable lyrics.
The track, and the album it was from, set me off on a quest to find more music like it. The journey led me to what became known as Krautrock. A derogatory term attached mainly to German and European artists that really doesn’t do justice or correctly label the wide range of music these disparate artists represent. The music encompasses genres including experimental, cosmic, rock, jazz, and psychedelic.
The artists and music under the Krautrock umbrella became my music. I was forever attracted to its ethos and the range of sounds it proffered.
Why I Like The Album
Side A, comprises four movements all composed primarily by violinist and guitarist Chris Karrer. It’s English lyrics, written and sung by Karrer, are mystifying but fit in well with the music which for the most part is melodic and low key not least the instrumental Prayer to the Silence.
Side B has nine movements and is almost exclusively the work of guitarist John Weinzierl. This side includes my favourite Race From Here To Your Ears itself divided into three parts. The music is more aggressive and raw with guitar to the fore. The vocals are shared by various band member though the lyrics are written by Weinzierl. Apart from the final movement which has German lyrics the other vocals are sung in English. Once again the lyrics are often incomprehensible. The section Riding on a Cloud references Habakkuk an ancient prophet.
Side C is designated as one long instrumental. However, several distinct movements can be identified. It is much more experimental and cosmic than the rest of the album. Falk Rogner’s keyboards and electronics are given more prominence than on the first two sides. Critics have said this side conflicts with the rest of the album. I can see why but I like the reflective interlude it presents.
Side D has three instrumental compositions. Chewing Gum Telegram is a short straight forward rock piece highlighting Peter Leopold’s drumming. Stumbling Over Melted Moonlight begins more circumspect and laid back but soon develops into a grinding, guitar led riff before drifting away with a false ending. Toxicological Whispering is the longest track on the side and my second favourite on the album. It is deceptively laid back though incessant and raw with an extended interplay between guitars, bass and drums.
Why You Should Listen To The Album
Opinions about the album are polarised. It is either the best album Amon Düül II ever made or one of their worse. Equally, it is either a masterpiece of experimental, psychedelic rock or a complete mishmash and a train wreck.I think it’s a classic. It’s energy and scope remain as vital and as exciting as when I first heard it. The four sides of the double album are different yet, to me, they form a coherent whole. I also think it’s one of their most accessible albums.