Amon Düül preferred the commune life to the hurly-burly of the music business, releasing several albums edited from recordings of a single extended jam session conducted in 1968. Several commune members with greater musical ambitions formed Amon Düül II -- they saw no reason to struggle for a new name, or argue over the original. The new group was helmed by John Weinzierl, Chris Karrer and Renate Knaup-Kroetenschwanz, and set to work to produce an impressive debut with Phallus Dei. This was followed quickly by the double album Yeti, the cover of which features one of the band's roadies.
1972 brought the release of another two-LP set -- Tanz der Lemminge ("Dance of the Lemmings"), a recording widely considered to be the keystone of the Amon Düül II catalog. With stylistic abandon, the album mixed together everything from straight-ahead rock to experimental noodling, all built around a series of science-fiction themes. The band performed with a joyfulness that belied the real seriousness of the experimental work involved.
They continued on this path for several years, continuing to release highly regarded albums that achieved only moderate sales, at best. 1975's Made in Germany (released in two-LP and single-LP versions) found the band making an attempt to present a more commercially appealing side, with little effect on the market. Continuing failure to crack the mainstream eventually brought the band back to its more experimental roots, though not before causing the core unit to fall moribund for a while.
In 1981, a further spin-off, formed by John Weinzierl under the original name (and also known as Amon Düül UK and, rarely, as Amon Düül III) recorded sporadically in the 1980s. Weinzierl worked with former Hawkwind member Dave Anderson on a total of five albums (one of which, Airs on a Shoestring, was a compilation drawn from the first two, with additional material salted in), with additional bandmembers coming from all walks of the British progressive/psychedelic scene. For Lösung, Weinzierl and Anderson collaborated with the late Robert Calvert, as well as drummer Guy Evans.
Amon Düül II reappeared during the 1990s, producing a series of remixes and original material, as well as Live in Tokyo and the intriguing benefit album Kobe (Reconstruction), which focused on material from 1969-1971. Members continue to be active with both solo and band projects. EastWest Records Germany released a four-CD retrospective box set in 1997. The '90s renewed interest in Krautrock culminated with the re-release of three of the group's albums -- Wolf City, Yeti and Viva la Trance -- in 1999. ~ Steven McDonald