Amon Düül

Hijack

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Released in 1974, Amon Düül II's Hijack (or, "Hi-jack," as it was released in Germany) is not frequently (if ever) regarded as one of their better albums. In fact, author Ingmar Schrober gives it a few scant sentences in Tanz der Lemmings, his biography of the band published in 1979. For the most part, this critical dismissal is accurate -- fans and critics seem to agree for once -- most of what's here is unfocused, very polished, meandering psych prog that goes nowhere. But Hijack is significant in the band's history, and perhaps for posterity as well, for three reasons. The first of these is that the recording of this album signalled a short-lived reunion of sorts for most of the members of the original Amon Düül -- vocalist Renate Knaup-Kroetenschwanz, guitarist/vocalist Chris Karrer, guitarist John Weinzierl, drummer Peter Leopold, bassist and string arranger Lothar Meid, and synthesizer guru Falk U. Rogner (sisters Helge and Angelika Filanda and Ulrich Leopold were lost ion the world of hippie communes and did not return for this outing). The second reason is for the opening cut, "I Can't Wait, Pts. 1 & 2," which has to be the first boogie rock cut in rock & roll history. Elements of Krautrock, German prog, and a full-on Los Angeles-style horn section turn this loopy, 11-plus-minute cut inside out more than once with the lower than dirt growl of Meid's "singing," electric violin solos, and party band blues progression done in full-tilt boogie mode. In other words, it's the least Amon Düül II sounding cut on the set. "Traveler," another Meid penned cut, may be better known since it was a single, but it pales in comparison. The final reason that this set is distinctive is for the band's cover of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman," done as a tango with some fluttering samba backbeats anchoring the wispy synths and piano work. Knaup sings dramatic original lyrics written by Karrer. It is followed by the dreamy but actually quite beautiful "Liquid Whisper," that contains some very inventive acoustic guitar and synthesizer work. It closes with the album's dumbest but funniest and inventive cut, "Argy the Robot," with a Mothers of Invention-style chorus interlude and horn arrangement. If all of this sounds like an awful combination, it is, but Hijack is worth hearing at least once for the sake of coming to grips with the fact that this is essentially the same band that recorded classics like Phallus Dei and Yeti. [SPV reissued Hijack as part of is Revisited series. The mastering is far better than the dodgy 1990 Castle Communications CD. It also contains an elegant booklet featuring the artwork for both original covers, plus very informative liner notes.]

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