Having split up in the 1970's, abortive attempts were made thereafter to reform Amon Duul II. In 1996, the efforts were finally successful, and a reformation did actually take place. "Live in Tokyo" documents that reunion, with many of the former band members returning for the event.
The set list covers the band's history, from the early 1970's through to 1995's "Nada moonshine number", with no less than six tracks from that album being included. Many of these later songs are presented here in abbreviated format as a sort of taster for the album, although "Kiss ma eee" retains its full length. The early days are given relatively brief coverage, but "Wolf city" from 1973 does provide several songs.
The performances are credibly tight, with songs such as "Deutch Nepal" having an almost symphonic quality. At times, it sounds as if Marianne Faithful has joined as a guest vocalist, "Casaneda Dadream" being unintentionally amusing in this respect.
Some of the song titles have been modified, "Dry your eyes" being more familiar as "Race From Here To Your Ears", and more specifically the "Riding on a cloud" section of that track. Whether the title modifications are by the band, or simply indicate a lack of historical awareness on the part of the publishers is not clear. On a similar tack, "La paloma" borrows its melody from Engelbert's "Spanish eyes"!
The highlight for me is the 8½ minute epic "Surrounded by the stars", a song which appeared as a bonus track on the Nada Moonshine #" album. The frantic violin and synth workouts offer definitive reassurance that there is life in the old dog yet. To ensure that the fans go home happy, "Archangel thunderbird" is given a spirited run through towards the end of the gig, although I have to say I prefer the "Live in London" version.
There has been some debate among fans about whether the band's reunion and the subsequent tour were wise. Some feel that this album simply documents a sort of tribute to the band's early days, while lacking the very invention and originality which was the foundation of their appeal. Others opine that these recordings prove that the band was still very much alive, and capable of delivering something unique and enjoyable. In the end, you pay your money and you make your choice.
For me, as someone who is by no means a committed fan and is therefore able to approach with a degree of impartiality, this is a thoroughly enjoyable set. The musicianship if superb, and the overall atmosphere refreshingly different.
(Review by Easy Livin)
Live, released in 1996
Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Nada Moonshine (5:23)
2. Black Pearl of Wisdom (3:43)
3. Dry Your Ears (2:14)
4. Castaneda da Dream (5:27)
5. Deutsch Nepal (2:54)
6. Kiss Ma Eee (8:05)
7. Speed Inside My Shoes (4:35)
8. Lilac Lilies (4:54)
9. Wolf City (5:30)
10. La Paloma (1:49)
11. Flowers of the Orient (5:46)
12. Surrounded by the Stars (8:26)
13. Archangel Thunderbird (4:35)
14. Jam Hai (5:24)
Total Time: 68:45
Line-up / Musicians
- Renate Knaup / vocals
- Lothar Meid / bass, vocals
- Chris Karrer / guitars, vocals, violin, sax
- Falk U. Rogner / lights & vision
- Jan Kahlert / percussion, vocals
- Felice Occhionero / guitar, vocals
- Michael Ruff / keyboards
- Wolf Wolff / drums
Mystic Records - MYS CD 107 CD