Amon Duul II - Carnival in Babylon. 1972 Germany
1972 United Artists
LP reissues: 1972 United Artists (worldwide); 1980 Strand; 1986 Base (Italy)
Select CD reissues: 1991 Mantra (France); 1995 Repertoire; 1996 Captain Trip (Japan); 2007 Revisited/SPV; 2007 Belle Antique (Japan mini-LP); 2009 Belle Antique (Japan mini-LP)
I have a friend on RYM that declares: "Sorry, but if you don't like this album, you're stupid". That got a belly laugh out of me. Now maybe I wouldn't have phrased it quite the same way, but nonetheless, there is something to be said for the premise. In effect, Carnival in Babylon sees Amon Duul II go from a stoned Krautrock long form jamming band into thoughtful progressive rock songwriters. Truth be told, the short songs on the first 3 opus' were mere afterthoughts, and seemed to get in the way of what they did best. There is still some evidence of their past that creeps up here and there, in particular 'Hawknose Harlequin', but otherwise this album is far more subtle in its brilliance. In fact when I first heard the LP in the mid 80s - after already owning the first 3 - I was sorely disappointed. It wasn't until years later, that I took the time to understand they were no longer the same beast of the past. 30+ years on, and I'm now of the mindset that Carnival in Babylon is almost on the same level as Tanz der Lemminge, something I would have scoffed at years ago. Special mention should go to guitarists' Weinzierl and Karrer, who both put in exemplary performances for this session.
The original album was released around the world, including the United States (which was my first copy). Because of the large amount of supply, I don't think this title requires an LP reissue. Eventually I secured an original German LP and that was my only copy for years, not bothering to get it on CD until the 2007 release. The latter comes with a fine history and is housed in a nice digi-pak . However there are 2 lengthy bonus tracks to consider, both modern, that are not attributed anywhere. I found these tracks far more interesting than what Amon Duul II has been releasing in modern times, and it shows the band could have continued in a relevant manner past the 70s.