YEAR RELEASED: 1974
CHART ACTION: #5 US, #4 UK
SINGLES: Komentenmelodie, Autobahn (#25 US, #11 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nein
LINEUP: Ralf Hutter, Florian Schneider, Klaus Roder, Wolfgang Flur.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After three albums of electronic experiments (none released on CD), the German group becomes accessible with an epic song about traveling on the A555 between Koln and Bonn.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Hutter, Schneider and producer Conny Plank were visionaries when it came to the use of electronics to make music. They may not have invented the devices, but they definitely popularized the use of the vocoder, synth drums, and various types of synthesizers, including the Minimoog. For Autobahn, they supplemented the electronics with piano, guitar and flute for effects, but the meat of the album is pure electronic.
“Autobahn” is a classic, a soundscape that replicates driving on that major highway with everything that happens during a road trip – speeding up, listening to the radio, the monotony. They’d use the same type of effect in later pieces but this was the first. Somehow, it was shortened from almost 23 minutes to just three and became a hit single around the world. That song took up the entire first side of the record.
The second side is a continuation of the first three album’s experiments, though this time they are thematic in some ways. Two tracks interpret the comet Kohoutek, and the second night as it goes into morning. I’m not into them that much and exiled them. However, Autobahn, at all 22:48, is definitely a keeper.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: This is the only album where they did not translate the lyrics from German to English for the US and UK markets.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No
GRADE: B: The song “Autobahn” is an A – the other side a C.