Sunday, July 1, 2012

THE PROGRESSIVE ROCK ENCYCLOPEDIA: A


   A. (Part 1)

AGITATION FREE.
   It was a German experimental Krautrock band, formed in 1967. Their first name was 'Agitation', a name they chose randomly from a dictionary. Later they changed their name to 'Agitation Free' which means 'Free Concert'. They took this idea after a panel they saw in the entrance of a free concert in the early 1970.
   In the years between 1967 - 1970 they were experimenting with sounds and music styles, changing the band's members often enough.
   Their debut album was released in 1972 and it was called 'Malesch'. The sound and style of this album is inspired by a travel they made through Greece, Cyprus but mostly Egypt.
   Their music here consists of a mixture of space rock with psychedelic sounds, ethnic influences, and the heavy use of organ as their 'trade mark'. The whole project is very experimental. Later the same year they performed at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
   The next year (1973), they released their second album under the name '2nd'. Although this album is more 'European' orientated, among the instruments which have been used you can find 'bouzouki'.
   On 1974 the band splits up, and in the following years they will make a few reunions and will release a few more albums.

    AKKERMAN JAN
    Jan Akkerman is a Dutch guitarist born in Amsterdam. He started playing guitar at the age of 5, and he released his first single at the age of 14. At the end of '60's he met with Thijs Van Leer and
together they formed the band 'Focus'. With Focus they explored the Prog-Rock paths scoring a few singles before his departure in 1976. As a musician he was constantly experimenting with new equipment and guitars. His guitar sound was very characteristic, with a very smooth flute-like sound.
   He had a big interest in Medieval and Renaissance music culture, and he tried for the first time to add Lute in a Rock band.
   In 1973 he was voted as 'Best guitarist in the world' by the readers of Melody Maker magazine.
Because of his very big fame as a guitar player he teamed up with a guitar manufacturing company in order to release his first 'signature' guitar models.
   From 1976 and onwards he released many records as a solo artist, and played as a session guitarist alongside famous musicians such as: Alan Price, Peter Banks, Paco De Lucia and B.B King.
   In 1985 he tried a Focus reunion, but it was not successful.
As a musician he is still active releasing new albums every now and then...

  
AMON DUUL: I-II & UK
   Here you wıll read the weird and interesting story of the German band Amon Duul.
Their story starts in Munich in the year 1967. At the start, Amon Duul wasn't exactly a band. They were a political/artistic commune, and the band was a part of it. That means there were no members in this band. Members were all the people in this commune helping according to their knowledge. Their declaration was: 'We are eleven adults and two children which we gathered to make all kind of expressions, also musical'.
The Amon Duul commune was involving more and more with the politics and at some point they were in close terms with the 'Red Army Faction'. (In other words with the Baader-Meinhof terrorist group).
In 1968 they were offered a  record contract, and at this point the band split up. Half of the members claimed that Amon Duul was never a music band, therefore they should continue concentrating on their political beliefs and actions, while the other half saw it as an opportunity to change their way for good.
So they split up, and Amon Duul II were formed.
   Their first album 'Phallus Dei' (God's penis) released in 1969 and it was totally experimental. At that point the band had 2 drummers in their ranks as members. With the release of the album they started playing live in every possible place, touring all over Germany and usually staying in other communes. (Like the famous commune 1 in Berlin). They also played a couple of times with Tangerine Dream.
Their second album 'Yeti' (1970) was more Rock orientated, whilst their third one 'Tanz der Lemminge' (1971) was based on 4 extended Prog-Rock suites. After this album their bassist quit the band, and travel to England to join 'Hawkwind'.
   For the rest of the '70's they continued traveling and performing live a lot, and releasing albums almost every year. They disbanded in 1981.
   One year later another group with the name Amon Duul appeared, in England this time.
That's because 2 ex-members of Amon Duul II decided to reform the band, and with the addition of Guy Evans in drums (ex-Van Der Graaf Generator), they released 4 records in total. In the meantime their name changed to Amon Duul (UK), in order to avoid misunderstandings.
Those records failed to succeed, so they disbanded in the end of '80's.