Sharat, the bands logo.

Background



In this installment we cover Amon Duul II second LP Yeti, which was released to the public in 1970. A natural progression leading on from the debut Phallus Dei but an improvement, both in structure and musicianship.

This was a double LP bursting with ambition, with one side dictated to a series of song based material whilst the other side held three improvised jams, all wrapped up in a concept of sorts.
Yeti included some of the bands best songs, and a lot of them would become staples in their live sets for years to come including the brave attempt at what appears to be dare I say a strong contender for their first single ‘Archangels Thunderbird’.

This could be said to be their magnum opus, which covers a multitude of styles including blues, rock, opera, raga, psychedelic (as ever), medieval style larking and folk. At times they sounded like an esoteric version of early Yes.

Amon Duul II dipped back and forth with this collection over time always trying to emulate it on future albums, Dance Of The Lemmings and Wolf City came closest.
Unfortunately sometimes the playing occasionally sways towards the noodling and can be melancholy in places, but overall this is one of the best LPs from the period and a good barometer to judge others by.
In the UK John Peel became a big fan and stirred up an underground following after playing this album relentlessly on his radio show.

Incidentally the cover star is bongos player extraordinaire Sharat who left not long after recording this LP, his serf like smock and scythe regalia would be adopted as the bands logo in the future.


Review

 

1.    Soap Shop Rock (13:48)
2.    She Came Through The Chimney (3:02)
3.    Archangels Thunderbird (3:33)
4.    Cerberus (4:21)
5.    Flesh Coloured Anti Aircraft Alarm (6:04)
6.    Return Of Ruebezahl (1:41)
7.    Eye Shaking King (5:41)
8.    Pale Gallery (2:17)
9.    Yeti Improvisation (18:12)
10.    Yeti Talks To Yogi Improvisation (6:18)
11.    Sandoz In The Rain Improvisation (9:00)

Personal:-

Dave Anderson – Bass
Chris Karrer – Guitar
Renate Knaup – Vocals
Peter Leopold – Drums
Falk Rogner – Keyboards
Christian Thierfeld – Vocals, percussion
John Weinzierl – Guitar, vocals, violin


1970 released on Liberty Records

Opening with a salvo of rock ambitions, ‘Soap Shop Rock’ introduces us to some poor woeful account of a woman whose eyes are on fire before the ever progressive backing builds into a shocking rumbling riff by way of Cream.
A straight up rock track that has Renate enter proceedings with the merest hint of Jefferson Airplane’s ghost hanging around.

We continue to hurtle through this tune before a half time signature announces a change in direction as Weinzarl and Renate perform some Wagner theatrics as the violins ascend towards the centre stage, all the while the rhythm section keep it all tightly packed together.
Ten minutes in so far and we’ve almost rushed through more ideas then their contemporaries could muster in their entire catalogue.
‘She Came Through The Chimney’ is a welcome interlude that features tables and bongos very much in keeping with the sounds of fellow Germans Popal Vuh (more of them another day), a dreamy delicate ditty interrupted by the trapped bird like tones of Weinzierl’s violin.
This distracts us for a brief moment before the amazing and quite soaring ‘Archangels Thunderbird’ scowls its way into our affections.
A break beat classic of a drum kicks it in as the bass riff tears into the song, almost imploding on its own timing.
Renate sings her first lead, a warbling hymn to some higher plain demi- god high on some plateau or a poem that’s part of a lost piece of the Ring trilogy. She name checks both the towers of Babel and Edgar Allan Poe in the same sentence, a lost lament to the fallen and those about to die, maybe I’m being too strong here!
This version in my own opinion is slightly improved when they perform it live at a faster pace, though even at this speed it sounds like the very first offerings of heavy metal.

‘Cerberus’ brings us a very different version of the three-headed mythical beast, in fact rather Spanish flamingo than Greek. An ensuing battle of the rhythm guitars is gate crashed by the court musicians of Henry II. A breather of sorts this instrumental features some deft finger work and more of those tables/bongos we so adore before plunging into some more prog rock grooves. A cacophony of oscillating guitars and keyboards do their best before the tune ends.
‘Flesh Coloured Anti- Aircraft Alarm’ may have a long title but its 1970 so we can forgive them. Featuring some storytelling vocals and distanced sighs, Anderson and Leopold deliver some effortlessly smart backing whilst the violin takes on the lead, a rallying call of arms before we find ourselves facing the short instrumental ‘The Return To Ruebezahl’. This short little ditty features some reverent drumming on the snare and cymbals as the guitar and bass play some proto Deep Purple like riff, it could actually be a Sabbath debut track.

Right here it comes, huge drum crescendo’s and rolls we must be ready for ‘Eye Shaking King’ the slow menacing and heavy as hell favourite of fans, a mainstay in the live sets. Distorted vocals both irrational and hysterical border on the comical and insane, the warbling falsetto is back through a myriad of effects.
All this transcends a free form jazz hook that scatters the bones of Hendrix across the wastes of Munich; I could imagine Clapton from his Cream days guesting on this, this all builds us up into the outré that forms the next track ‘Pale Gallery’, a Leopold strong lead of continuous drum rolls accompanied by some erratic ambient guitars before proclaiming an end to the first side of the album.

Side two is all about the improvisation. ‘Yeti’ echoes the later work on Dance Of The Lemmings as a drum kicks off the first few bars before rolling off in and out of the distance pushed through a number of reverb effects. Everyone else lines up to take a go and we are treated to a mixed result of gestures and riffs before Leopold breaks the party up and Anderson can only try and keep in the running.
Karrer does his best on guitar, he leads the direction but is not entirely convincing as the improvised playing hurtles towards some good old rock out only to be eclipsed by an amazing section that sounds like its been planned from the start.
Renate and Karrer share vocals as a Led Zeppelin like backdrop soars towards one of the best moments found on this entire record.
The west coast of America meets Baader Meinoff in a sprawling epoch to the free spirit.
It has everything that a quality piece of the genre should include, pretensions aside and everything this kind of gets you going, in fact makes you want to join a band yourself.
Back to the track as 14 minutes in we are introduced to some high-octane raga played by a Hammond sounding keyboard that culminates in a dreamy pillow to rest you weary head on.

The second improvisation ‘Yeti Talks To Yogi’, I think we can guess where this is going, continues on similar lines to ‘Yeti’ but features an heroic thunder of kettle drums drowned out by Leopold’s erratic drumming rolls. An entire two minutes elapse before he gives in, the reverbed up guitar and Anderson’s bass jockey back in for a neat positioning before Renate’s siren like vocals sweep in again.
Awash with dramatics and mystery it soon fazes out to make room for ‘Sandoz In The Rain’, a Muslim occupied southern Spain backdrop beckons, as the jamming knocks up a trusty trestle to hang all its proceeding influences from.
The lyrics conjure up some lost tale of love and woe; an ultimatum that has passed yet there is hope. Whatever their singing about the bass line feels it needs to delicately watch where it’s laying down it’s notes as it tiptoes round the rest of the cast.
The heavy mists arise and we are lost but for the vocals that navigate us through this loose shifting improvised tale, the opening riff beckons back and we are once more stood on a shore waiting to be introduced.
And like that its gone, finished, the last faded out tones being taken by the tide.

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