33 1/3 Part 16


Kraftwerk – ‘The Man Machine’ (EMI, 1978)

In the grand scheme of things, this may not be the most important Kraftwerk record ever released; and both Autobahn and Trans Europe Express have much to recommend them. But it’s my favourite, and that’s why I’ve picked this album by my favourite german band ever, and one of the most influential acts EVER.

I first heard this album in about the second year of university, when I borrowed the tape off someone, which they never got back (Mark, you still owe me £35, but as my intro to Kraftwerk I guess we’re fair and square). The tape has died, after much play; replaced on CD which was then passed onto my brother when I found a vinyl copy. So on a personal level, it’s an album I feel essential to own and listen to regularly.

It works on so many different levels: yes, it’s groundbreaking music full stop, and it’s hard to imagine much of what would happen over the next thirty years without it. Not an electric guitar in sight (well, hearing). And for once, instead of Europeans plundering the music of African-Americans and then selling it back to White Americans, this was genuinely original music, and folks everywhere were sitting up and listening. It’s dated phenomenally well, even if you don’t have a snazzy remaster.

It’s also a fantastic album to listen to whilst travelling. I can definitely trace a growing interest in so-called Krautrock (am i the only person who finds that term slightly uncomfortable?) to hearing this album – Can, Faust, Neu! Harmonia etc.. My suggestions that we spent a holiday driving up and down German motorways listen to German bands have not been well received. Never mind…The influences on bands as diverse as Joy Division and Air can be found here, not to mention pretty much everything that’s come under the heading of dance and electronica – techno, electro, trance to say nothing of Hip-Hop …hell, Kraftwerk were ahead of punk and disco, no-wave: you name it.

Oh, and it’s a fantastic bloody pop album. ‘The Model’ is a great tune full stop, as covered with wildly different arrangements by Big Black (noise rock) and Canasta (twee pop).

Kraftwerk -‘Spacelab.’ mp3

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