One of the first active Krautrock units, Amon Düül grew out of a multimedia artist commune in Munich that mixed radical political criticism with a unique vision of free-form improvisation tied to American psychedelic rock, especially compared to the avant-garde inclinations of other space rock units like Tangerine Dream and Cluster. Such open-ended and non-musical origins made the later activity of the group quite confusing, as a quartet of (slightly) more musically inclined members branched out in 1969 as Amon Düül II. Meanwhile, the original Amon Düül continued releasing albums, most of which had actually been recorded during a mammoth jam session by the entire conglomeration in 1969. Though Amon Düül ceased recording material by 1972, frequent reissues during the decade -- and the resumption of the Amon Düül name by several Amon Düül II alumni in the 1980s -- resulted in still more confusion. Listeners unfamiliar with the lineup of every Amon Düül-related release can content themselves with the fact that the main line of the group began with Amon Düül in the late '60s and moved to Amon Düül II for the 1970s recordings. When originally founded in 1968 however, the group was more of an alternative-living commune project than actual recording artists. Wishing to bring their vision of hippie living to a worldwide audience, the collective named themselves Amon Düül (Amon being an Egyptian sun god, Düül a character from Turkish fiction) and recorded hours of material during what is reportedly one mammoth recording session from early 1969. Even before the release of the self-titled Amon Düül debut that year, several members -- led by vocalist Renate Knaup-Kroaetenschwanz (aka Renate Knaup), guitarist Chris Karrer, bassist John (Johannes) Weinzierl, drummer Peter Leopold and organist Falk U. Rogner -- had broken away from the original group to form Amon Düül II. That group released its own debut album Phallus Dei in 1969. While three additional albums credited to Amon Düül appeared in 1970 and 1971 (Collapsing/Singvögel Rückwärts & Co., Paradieswärts Düül and Disaster), they were actually comprised of additional recordings from 1969 sessions. By 1971, it was clear that Amon Düül II was the major unit of the axis. Still, lineups were barely stable enough to credit the same group with all of the work released under the Amon Düül II banner. Members came and went during the early '70s -- the only constants were Karrer and Weinzierl -- and Amon Düül II gradually progressed away from the acid-improv style of their first recordings to embrace a more pop-oriented approach to progressive rock on 1973's Vive la Trance and the following year's Hijack, which saw many old members returning to the fold. Two new additions, Stefan Zauner and Klaus Ebert, added a keyboard-dominated quasi-disco sound to 1976's Pyragony, and the duo's sound soon dominated the crumbling Amon Düül II lineup. Both Knaup and Weinzierl left the group by 1978 (to play with, respectively, Popol Vuh and Embryo), and Amon Düül II finally halted one year after. Just two years later, however, Amon Düül II reunited with most of the original lineup to record another album, Vortex. That same year, Weinzierl moved to Wales to begin a British version of the band with old bandmate Dave Anderson. What should have been billed "Amon Düül III" was, however, simply christened Amon Düül. The release of four albums during the 1980s (including Hawk Meets Penguin, Meeting With Menmachines and Die Losung) confused even adept listeners, while Amon Düül II appeared to be finished. ~ John BushPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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