Thursday, October 15, 2009

K: Kraftwerk


10-15-09 K: Kraftwerk


I was taken aback when I read an interview with Ralf Hutter of Kraftwerk in a British magazine recently, where he was talking about finally re-mastering all the Kraftwerk albums on CD. And it looks like the process has begun! All of the Kraftwerk albums that were released as legit CD’s were done so long ago – 80’s mastering. And, as we all know and lament – the first three albums are still not on CD…but it looks like they’re ‘coming soon’.


For the record, I was a huge Kraftwerk fan in the 70’s, bought everything when it was a new release upon it’s release from “Ralf & Florian” all the way to “Computerwelt”. I was not such a fan of “Electric Café”, I confess.


CD AUTOBAHN EMI DE CDP 746153.2

1974 5 TRKS original CD issue

LP AUTOBAHN PHILIPS DE 6305 231

1974 5 TRKS original issue

12" COMPUTER LOVE EMI UK 12EMI 5207

1981 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

7" COMPUTER LOVE / NUMBERS WARNER US WBS 49795

1981 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

CD COMPUTER WORLD WARNER US 3549.2

1981 7 TRKS original issue CD, paint face

LP COMPUTER WORLD EMI UK EMC 3370

1981 7 TRKS English language

LP COMPUTERWELT EMI DE 1C064-46311

1981 7 TRKS original issue

CD DIE MENSCH MASCHINE EMI DE CDP 746131.2

1978 6 TRKS in German

LP DIE MENSCH MASCHINE EMI DE 1C058-32843

1978 6 TRKS original issue

LP ELECTRIC CAFÉ EMI DE 1C064-240644.1

1986 6 TRKS

7" KOMETENMELODIE 2 VERTIGO UK VER 3

1974 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

LP KRAFTWERK PHILIPS DE 6305 058

1970 4 TRKS original issue

LP KRAFTWERK 2 PHILIPS DE 6305 117

1971 6 TRKS original issue

12" KRAFTWERK'S DISCO BEST (8865) promo CAPITOL US SPRO-8865

1977 4 TRKS no pic sleeve, promo-only

12" KRAFTWERK'S DISCO BEST (8866) promo CAPITOL US SPRO-8866

1978 4 TRKS no pic sleeve, promo-only

CD MIX, THE ELEKTRA US 60869.2

1991 11 TRK Collection

7" MODEL, THE CAPITOL NL 5C006-85673

1978 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

12" POCKET CALCULATOR EMI UK 12EMI 5175

1981 3 TRKS with pic sleeve

7" POCKET CALCULATOR / DENTAKU WARNER US WBS 49723

1981 2 TRKS with pic sleeve, green vinyl

12" POCKET CALCULATOR promo WARNER US PRO-A-951

1981 2 TRKS no pic sleeve, promo

CD RADIO-ACTIVITY CAPITOL US CDP 746474.2

1975 12 TRKS

LP RADIO-AKTIVITAT EMI DE 1C064-82087

1975 12 TRKS insert, original issue

LP RALF & FLORIAN PHILIPS DE 6305 197

1973 6 TRKS poster, original issue

LP RALF & FLORIAN PHILIPS JPN BT-8102

1973 6 TRKS ('79 re-issue)

12" SHOWROOM DUMMIES CAPITOL US 8501

1977 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

12" TOUR DE FRANCE EMI PATHE FR 1545056

1983 3 TRKS with pic sleeve

7" TOUR DE FRANCE EMI UK EMI 5413

1983 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

LP TRANS EUROPA EXPRESS EMI DE 1C064-82306

1977 8 TRKS poster, original issue

12" TRANS EUROPE EXPRESS CAPITOL US 8513

1977 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

12" TRANS EUROPE EXPRESS / METAL ON METAL CAPITOL CAN 75001

1977 2 TRKS no pic sleeve


My most vivid Kraftwerk memory: My dad took me to KPFK-FM about 1973/4 to visit a DJ that I had been listening to, Mr. Greg Stewart. My youthful enthusiasm for European music was both tolerated and respected by Mr. Stewart – I am still friends with him 35+ years later! He played me “Kristallo” by Kraftwerk (from “Ralf & Florian”, a new release at the time) on the huge stereo in the control room of KPFK. Wow. I’d never heard anything ever that sounded that good before! I was 14/15 years old, and had not previously been exposed to audiophiles!


I somehow got their studio telephone number, and I called the number when I was visiting Koln, Germany. Dusseldorf was only a few train stops away. I had the phone number, but not the address of their office / studio. My memory hazes up, but I believe I spoke to Florian Schneider, who told me that they would love to meet me, but that they were very busy preparing their new album (which would’ve been “Computerwelt”). I wandered around Dusseldorf, then got back on the TEE (I think) and went back to Koln, where I was more familiar with the city.


4 comments:

Jim said...

A-HA!!!!!

So that tale of how their studio had no phone was completely spurious!!!

I recently ripped the CD version of Autobahn to my hard drive and set about to replicating the brutal 3:20 7" Vertigo edit that caught my ear in such a big way in 1974. So finally, after 35 years I could hear the version of the track with much more quality than my 45 has! I had to very carefully A/B the 7" from vinyl and the CD rip to get the edits just right. And you know where THAT leads... to the inevitable Kraftwerk BSOG, buckaroos! It's in the mental queue... It's just a matter of time.

I've seen the new RM box and think that I'll stick with my extant copies. The neu artwork for the releases is not exciting to me. I will admit that the notion of Electric Cafe being re-branded to the legendary title of Techno-Pop does hold some residual excitement, given that the non-release of that album over several years of patient waiting.

I have the Ger. TEE but English copies of everything from 77 onward. I was never adamant about getting all of the language versions. The only reason I have the Ger. TEE is that that was the first release of it on CD. Since I first heard that album in English, the thought has always been to eventually buy an English copy but obviously, it has not been a priority in the last 25 years!

All I really need for the new BSOG are the recent singles from the last album. They're easy to get (online). I am excited that Kraftwerk 1, 2 & Ralf + Florian may be getting a legit release. Save's me the time and effort. I have the Germanophon boot of 1 and it's not bad. I've never given it a critical headphone listening though.

Ron - I can't believe that you consented to sell me that luminous UK 12" of Neon Lights all those years ago! Were ye' daft, man?!

Is there a more perfect object?

No!

Jim said...

Ron:

I DARE YOU not to write about Frank Zappa for "Z!"

No Hector Zazou, either!!!

Cn you do it?

chas_m said...

I seem to remember that my first encounter with Kraftwerk was hearing some radio station played "Autobahn" in full (at least the 22-minute Side One). It was like NOTHING I had ever heard before, and finding more of it quickly became a priority.

At one point in the 70s I had pretty much everything they'd put out in English.

I remember distinctly that Computerwelt was the "icing on the cake" to me, perfectly complementing the synth-driven bands that were emerging and proving they had genuinely been way ahead of their time. I was so disappointed that they could not keep up this standard, and by the time Electric Cafe finally came out, I wasn't as thrilled as I should have been -- until I saw the video for "The Telephone Call"! That video MELTED MY BRAIN and briefly put Kraftwerk back on top for me. I did not know for many years that Bartos sang the lead on it! To this day it remains one of my all-time favourite music vids.

When a group or artist reaches the point where they can only very very occasionally recapture "the spark," they should hang it up (or become their own tribute band, as Kraftwerk now seem to have done).

By the time "Tour De France Soundtracks" -- or "Lame Shit" as I like to call it -- came out in 2003, it was obvious they were just phoning it in. I have a live version of "Aerodynamik" from the MTV Europe Music Awards that's pretty awesome, but the album just felt forced and lifeless and ten years overdue.

At this point, I'll believe new material from the V2 Schneider-less edition when I see or hear it. Obviously I hope they don't embarrass themselves, but I'm not confident that we'll get anything noteworthy out of them again.

Ron Kane said...

OK, Jim-san.

No Zappa or Zazou.

RK