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Amon Duul - Almost Alive
 

Amon Duul - Almost Alive

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Genre: progressive
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  Almost Alive
Company: NOVA
Catalog: 6.23.305
Year: 1977
Country/State: Germany
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: --
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 263
Price: $25.00

Best time to play: not very often

In spite of the title that gave me the impression it might have been a live collection, 1977's "Almost Alive" was a pure studio album, recorded at sessions in Munich and 10cc's Strawberry Studios in Manchester, UK. From a personnel standpoint the album was a first; marking the first time the same line up had remained intact for two albums (vocalist Klaus Eberl, multi-instrumentalist Chris Karrer, drummer Peter Leopold, guitarist John Weinzierl , and keyboard player Stefan Zauner). Unfortunately that stability didn't seem to have done much in terms of enhancing band creativity. If you were a longstanding Amon Duul fan, chance are you were going to consider this set was pretty much an outright abomination. Anyone looking for the band's patented mix of Krautrock, hippy excesses, and weird progressive moves was going to be dumbfound by an album that was probably best classified as AOR. Seriously, tracks like 'One Blue Morning' and 'Goodbye My Love' sounded like a weak Lake LP (and that's probably being generous).  

- Anyone expecting to hear some classic whacked out, hippy experimentation was probably going to do a double take upon hearing 'One Blue Morning'. A shockingly commercial rocker, this one could have easily been mistaken for something released by Lake, or another mid-'70s radio oriented rock band. Not bad, with some nice John Weinzierl lead guitar, but certainly not what longstanding Amon Duul fans were expecting.  rating: *** stars
- In spite of some Zaunder synthesizers, the mid-tempo rocker 'Goodbye My Love' was an even more commercial outing. And here's where if was kind of interesting. If you were coming at this from an Asia/Journey/Kansas musical standpoint, this wasn't half bad radio product. Tuneful and quite commercial, it wouldn't have sounded half bad on FM radio; especially if the song had been edited down to about half of the original eight minutes running time. rating: *** stars
- With Karrer taking lead vocals, 'Ain't Today Tomorrow's Yesterday' found the band trying to exhibit a bit of their progressive credentials. Full of melodic and rhythmic changes, the main effect was to underscore why Eberl had been hired as lead singer and to make you thankful this was one of the shorter compositions. rating: ** stars
- And just when you thought it couldn't get much worse, side two opened up with something that sounded like an ABBA-meets-Genesis slice of dance rock. I won't go as far as labeling it disco, but the instrumental 'Hallelujah' sure came pretty close. rating: ** stars
- Okay, if you resign yourself to the fact this is a pop album, then 'Feeling Uneasy' was actually modestly enjoyable. The melody didn't have a single original note, or thought, but playing spot-the-influence on this one was fun (lots of Lake moves), and I'll readily admit that I got a kick out of the treated sax solos. rating: *** stars
- Clocking in at over thirteen minutes, 'Live In Jericho' found the band showing off their "jam" skills with each member getting a bit of spotlight time. I'm a big fan of extended musical workouts and this one certainly had a couple of entertaining minutes. Eberl got a chance to showcase his excellent bass work, while Zauner took over the end of the song with a cool mix of keyboard, synthesizers, and sound effects. For anyone interested in saving time and skipping around, the spotlight sequence was 1.) Leopold, 2.) Eberl, 3.) Weinzierl, 4.) Karrer, and 5. Zauner). Unfortunately those were the exceptions, and unless you felt a need for some Niagara-styled drum and percussion workouts, overall there simply wasn't a great deal on the extended closer that warranted your time or effort. rating: ** stars

The band's first release after losing their US distribution deal with ATCO, I don't think this one saw a US release.
  
"Almost Alive" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) One Blue Morning (Chris Karrer - John Weinzierl - Klaus Eberl - Stefan Zauner - Peter Leopold) - 7:29
2.) Goodbye My Love (Chris Karrer - John Weinzierl - Klaus Eberl - Stefan Zauner - Peter Leopold) - 8:15
3.) Ain't Today Tomorrow's Yesterday (Chris Karrer - John Weinzierl - Klaus Eberl - Stefan Zauner - Peter Leopold) - 7:28

(side 2)
1.) Hallelujah (instrumental) (Chris Karrer - John Weinzierl - Klaus Eberl - Stefan Zauner - Peter Leopold) - 4:16
2.) Feeling Uneasy (Chris Karrer - John Weinzierl - Klaus Eberl - Stefan Zauner -Peter Leopold) - 6:10
3.) Live In Jericho (instrumental) (Chris Karrer - John Weinzierl - Klaus Eberl - Stefan Zauner - Peter Leopold) - 13:15
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