|Amon Duul II – 1970|
There’s a certain drive that can only be reached by upping the tempo. The best driving songs will always have this forward momentum propulsing any listener forward. The following songs by krautrock band, Amon Duul II, maintain the velocity of Hawkind’s first blast, I mean the only way to keep this energy is to not let drag get introduced so quickly into a driving playlist. “Soap Shop Rock” is the jet engine, and “Wide Angle” is the sounds of jets turning off and their kinetic force letting you enjoy your expansion outward, in free space flight.
Yeti, the first true album released by Amon Duul II presented their take on German rock. Seemingly drawing inspiration from Richard Wagner, Stockhausen, and eastern bordering Turkey…they combined all those influences with the drone of the Velvet Underground and the western sound of San Francisco rockers like Jefferson Airplane/the Dead etc. They were never the most proficient or technical of any of the future Krautrockers or Cosmic rockers but by far they were the most dark and dedicated to their vision. “Soap Shop Rock” which kicks off Yeti signals everything that will lay ahead for this band.
This song has massive amounts of intertwining musical parts, all of them displaying a heavy-ness not heard of in this way before. Electric guitars compete with electric violins, dueling drums pound away in the background, a bass lays down deep chasms of rhythm, while Chris Karrer (violinist/guitarist) and Renate Knaup trade vocals in spine-tingling fashion. This was a group that started out living in a commune and instantly saw the chaos such “free-living” can bring about. Rather than deny their desire to get themselves out of Germany, and to change the German way of thinking…they embraced the most inspiring parts and helped fashion a new musical locale other groups would dream of reaching, I mean check out the video below of an outdoor concert audience with a young David Gilmour included taking in its performance and being blown away with this kind of power…
The softie of the day, “Wide Angle”, from 1975’s Made in Germany release shows the brilliance that age and softening can also bring about as well. By this time, Amon Duul II were tired of playing heavy jams that were hardly heard on the radio, and of ignoring some of their own pop chops that came in small waves throughout their career. So, what did they do? They decided to go for broke and write a concept album showing the history of Germany and aim for a much broader audience.
With their tongues firmly in their cheek, they used this concept to present countless different musical styles from latin, caberet prog, proto-punk, Dylan-like balladry, psych, ambient, and some like this slice of Fleetwood Mac-style pop-rock. Its one of my favorite tracks of theirs, because it shows what we all know: that most heavy artists, have the kindest of hearts as well. I mean its healthier to take out your frustration/darkness through music and to point out its existence than to deny it exists at all.
So, when they embrace the bright side of life musically, you best listen…it might just be as inspiring. Somehow, with this track they rival the best Christine McVie Fleetwood Mac tracks in their cool breeziness. Its a song basically stating that fans should relax a little when their favorite band tries something new. Even the band itself isn’t as serious as they present themselves…at the end of the day they’re just a couple of friends playing guitars and enjoying their time with each other. Money and fame, its all secondary to blowing some minds. Who ever expected to hear a lyric state: “Give my love to the Sunrise” from a band that rocked so mightily in Yeti. Driving along, its always good to give some chance to experiencing lighter things in life. Germany for sure, needed to feel some positive pride to get along with all that darkness they fomented not long before. We’ll drive more through Germany tomorrow…