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Amon Duul II: PYRAGONY X      

Checking my shelves I found I was slightly in error in my prior review of this band. Following MADE IN GERMANY there were three albums that used Stefan Zauner. They were PYRAGONY X, ALMOST ALIVE, and ONLY HUMAN. Of these, only PYRAGONY X has been released by Repertoire Records (but the others have been released on CD by Castle - a label which, unfortunately, is not known for the quality of their releases - and which released one album in an accidentally truncated form) [REP 4632 WY].

After MADE IN GERMANY, lead singer Renate Knaup left the group. Founder-member Chris Karrer (guitar, violin, soprano sax, some vocals) is quoted in the notes: "I well remember this album which we did in 1976. ... This album was done at a time when I was asked by the record company [Nova/Telefunken] if I would do an Amon Duul album alone, and I said, 'No, I can't do this alone.' Amon Duul was always a community thing. It was very anarchic and there was no band leader. So this one was done by the producer who started with us on the MADE IN GERMANY album." One gets the impression that this album - and the two which followed it, after which the band broke up for a number of years - is not regarded highly by the band, although Karrer admits the current (l990's) band still does the opening song on this album, "Flower of the Orient." (It is one of the weakest pieces on the album - albeit somewhat tied to the earlier style of music the band had done - built as it is on musical cliches of oriental/eastern music, and as trite as anything I've ever heard.) Certainly the tight melodic focus of most of the material on this album (as well as the next two) is highly atypical of the bulk of Amon Duul II's music. I credit this to the presence of Zauner, although he is credited with only two songs of the eight on the album (not counting "Flower of the Orient," which is credited to all the members of the band including Zauner).

The lyrics on the album are English (telling you the market they were seeking) and some of them are excellent. I am particularly taken by this line from "Capuccino":

"She looks like sunshine,/ But she brings the rain."

No one seems to remember the origin of the album's title, but I believe I once counted up and found it was the band's tenth album, which would explain the "X" part. It's nice to get this release from Repertoire - and I can only hope they'll eventually do ALMOST ALIVE and ONLY HUMAN as well.                                                             Back to Dr. Progresso

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