Category: Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk – Radio-Activity

ARTIST: Kraftwerk                                     220px-Kraftwerk_Radio_Activity_album_cover

TITLE:  Radio-Activity

YEAR RELEASED: 1975

CHART ACTION: #140 US

SINGLES: Radioactivity

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: Ralf Huitter, Florian Schneider, Karl Bartos, Wolfgang Flur

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Kraftwerk begins to forge out its commitment and vision to melding pop music to avant-garde electronics.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Beeps and bloops abound. Voices put through synthesizers to make them sound scary (especially in German). But, there’s melody, musicality, and lots of stuff that was sampled by all sorts of bands. 220px-Radio-Activity_2009

Kraftwerk was moving electronic music away from the ‘hey look at what this machine can do’ towards making it a real creative asset to music. The single, “Radioactivity” was a simple-sounding song that made the synthesizer a palette for musicianship.

Not every track works – which happens when you are experimenting. But unlike their first big album, everything is worth keeping as they fit together as a whole thematic piece, and the shorter tracks are intros and codas which captures the essence of the work.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They used an Orchestron, a synthesizer that used pre-recorded sounds much like a mellotron.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE: B+: Surprisingly listenable even with the interludes and experiments.

 

Kraftwerk – Autobahn

ARTIST: Kraftwerk 220px-A74-D-front-250
TITLE: Autobahn
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.220px-Kraftwerk_Autobahn_Blue

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.