Background: –

Amon Duul II are caught live in a blinding haze of Psychedelic bluster on this 1973 release – recorded on their 1972 tour of the UK. Though it states London it is in fact Croydon, which isn’t technically the capitol, but we can forgive them that.

Consisting of the highlights from both the Yeti and Dance Of The Lemmings albums, it seems slightly out of step with the material the band released that same year. Maybe the English crowd wanted to hear the early albums more or the band felt they had to play these earlier incarnations as this was perhaps the first time they had made across the Channel to the UK: an introductory showcase if you will.

The show itself harks back to 1968; with its acid soaked light show and summer of love pretensions it had more in common with Jefferson Airplane and early Pink Floyd.

The bands close knit core are all present and correct on this performance with the added touch of two drummers, shared duties from Danny Fichelscher and Peter Leopold add a percussion heavy maelstrom to proceedings, which never loses its way or direction.
All of the songs are played to a high standard and sound mostly exhilarating though I’m amazed at how many critics moan about the quality: yes their early LPs always have a certain live sound to them anyway but I believe that it is further enhanced on this recording.
Certainly tunes like ‘Archangels Thunderbird’ and ‘Eye Shaking King’ both sound infinitely better played at a faster pace and with a heavier tone.

Believe me these guys sound tight and really stand out, the musicianship of Lothar Meid on bass and Chris Karrer on guitar, violin and sax really make a difference. John Weinzierl and Renate also sound great most of the time on vocal duties.

Side two of the recording is handed over to Dance Of The Lemmings, which is hastily rushed through as if they are on a timer.

Some of the dynamics get lost as they pummel through most of the original double LP in twenty minutes flat: there certainly isn’t any room for space and to take a breather.
But it has to be said they manage to discard some of the more mediocre parts and bulk up the rest in a much heavier rock style, they cut out a lot of the light and shade work.

Falk U Rogner provides the album cover as usual; he also plays synth and organ on this tour. Looming over London, a menacing proto-alien creature wearing what looks like a World War II helmet grabs the famous Post Office Tower in its claws. Whizzing above it is a group of flying saucers, which might be the preferred tour bus of choice for our cosmic band.
Like something that’s sprung from the pen of H.P Lovecraft this serpent from another dimension literally tramples the city beneath its feet.

Live In London in essence was a showcase for fans across the Channel; it falls short in some respects as the band was essentially born of a free spirited improvised scene. On this record they play it slightly safe, but then they weren’t sure of the welcome they would get and probably needed to focus on delivering a well-rounded set. It’s definitely worthy of adding to any collection.


United Artists.


Recorded live at the Greyhound in Croydon on December 16th 1972.


Track List


Side 1.

1. Archangels Thunderbird   (3:20)
2. Eye Shaking King   (6:19)
3. Soap Shop Rock   (8:19)
4. Improvisation   (3:42)


Side 2.


1. Syntelman’s March Of The Roaring Seventies   (8:06)
a) Pull Down Your Mask
b) Prayer To The Silence
c) Telephonecomplex


2. a) Restless Skylight – Transistor Child – Landing In A Ditch   (7:43)
b) Dehypnotized Toothpaste
c) A Short Stop At The Transylvanian Brain Surgery

3. Race From Here To Your Ears   (5:04)
a) Little Tornados
b) Riding On A Cloud
c) Paralized Paradise




John Weinzierl – Guitar/Vocals
Lothar Meid – Bass/Vocals
Chris Karrer – Guitar/Violin/Soprano Sax
Falk U Rogner – Organ/Synthesizers
Renate Knaup – Krötenschwanz – Vocals
Danny Fichelscher – Drums
Peter Leopold – Drums

A quick introduction of the band is swept aside as the first bars of ‘Archangels Thunderbird’ take off; a blast of brooding bass and effects driven guitar set the agenda. More powerful, emotive and heavy then its original counterpart on Yeti, this sounds more like a dose of heavy metal as it takes Sabbath and runs them out of town.

Renate high priestess of some Teutonic version of Hammer Horror has never sounded better as her soaring pronunciations of Edgar Poe and Gomorrah add some well-needed emotive feeling to the menacing march. Hand-clapping ensues but is met with a short gasp of breath before two drum rolls herald the beginnings of ‘Eye Shaking King’. Triumphant in all its glory, a much improved on the original version as the vocals are left clean and actually audible. The backing continues on a heavy footing and rocks out during the middle section as the band pull off a tight psychedelic jam stomper. Lothar Meid on bass lays down a Ten Years After performance as his busy playing style complements Weinzierl and Karrer on lead. Falk U Rogner adds a level of mystery and misty graveyard atmospherics on the organ and synth.
This one ends with a big applause from the audience who’ve now adjusted themselves and settled in for the night.

‘Soap Shop Rock’ impatiently lurks in the background, both the drummers hunched over their kits ready to continue with the barrage. Meid again on bass lays down some funky octave rundowns as Renate with Weinzierl share profound evocative vocal duties. The eight-minute suite bounces along buoyed by Grateful Dead riffs before the middle section slows the pace down and Renate opens with a poetic ode whilst an emotive melody accompanies her. It ends in an impromptu final rock out that is stopped in its tracks by an improvised number.
Falk U Rogner is given a free reign as the rest of the group take a break. His synthesizer has just enough room to show off as its whirling and oscillating loops build up before Meid daintily toys with adding his bass to the cosmic sounding brew. Some harsh bird like calls and screeches are added before it all fades out to nothing.

Side 2 is handed over to Dance Of The Lemmings, a pared down version of the whole album in just twenty minutes flat.

Pull Down Your Mask’ sounds more theatrical and benefits from this rockier played out version as does ‘Prayer To The Silence’, which is more West coast freak out then subtle soundtrack.

On ‘Telephonecomplex’ we are propelled at speed to this three part acts climax without time to take it all in, a short shrift shock of a version that fits more ideas into its brief time then most bands managed in a whole career.

‘Restless Skylight’ is hurried but sounds like it means business whilst ‘Transistor Child’ and ‘Landing In A Ditch’ are radically sped up: there is no time to rest on your laurels here.
‘Dehypnotized Toothpaste’ is all worked up with more of the cosmic rock before it gets immersed in some doom and dread theater of horrors.

Woohoo! ‘A Short Stop At The Transylvanian Brain Surgery’ has arrived; I love this messy Gothic opera track. Though the vocals get lost in the smothering effects and at one point it all nearly falls apart as I picture them all looking at each other in a nervous way. Nice try though and we honour you for it.

The final suite of songs starts with ‘Little Tornados’, a tip toeing cymbal and delicate bass riff is helped along by both Weinzierl and Renates stirring vocals.

‘Riding On A Cloud’ and ‘Paralized Paradise’ are worked through, though quite delicate in contrast, all this before a last three-minute workout brings the set to a close.

It is a shame they never made more live albums, it would have been great to hear the likes of Wolf City and Carnival In Babylon played out in their entirety. Especially with this same line up and atmosphere.


4 Responses to “Amon Duul II ‘Live In London’”

  1. Basil leonard said

    Great review
    It’s my favorite live album of all time. It has a completeness from start to finish. The edited editions just leave me wanting more. I can sense the intimacy of what was probably a pub gig. It’s rare to say but it is one of those albums I never tire of listening to.

  2. Paul O'Brien said

    I’d agree with the comments regarding Eye Shaking King. Overall, it’s a great album – far better than their later live efforts which are even more hurried – and is probably helped by the inclusion of two drummers. I would mention though that the cover isn’t by Rogner: it’s by an independent design shop.

  3. Chris Parrett said

    I was at the gig. The atmosphere was electric … The album itself had a strange release. It was released at a special low price of little more than the price of a single at the time (I think it was a quid) as a thank you to the fans, but as a limited edition, not in numbers per se, but record shops were only allowed one ordering, then it was deleted. Naturally, it was mainly shops in areas where they’d played on the tour who bothered to stock it – A friend who heard my copy a few years later hunted high and low for it for a number of years, having to content himself with a cassette copied from my album, until it got re-issued as a ‘classic’ CD in recent (ish) times.
    I’m not certain, but I believe there was some editing using recordings from another gig on the tour to tidy the Croydon tapes up (I think it was from the other ‘Greyhound’, in Fulham Palace Rd… which I also attended quite often and may have been at Amon Düül’s gig if it was there – I saw them twice on that tour, but can’t remember where the other gig was… I’d been a student at Croydon College of Art, so was meeting up with old friends, which made it more memorable. Even now, as soon as I hear that brief stage announcement, and the band exploding into sound followed by Renate’s soaring vocal, I’m taken right back to that gig. It’s still a favourite album.

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