Kraftwerk are classed as the forefathers of electronic music who hailed from the industrial city of Dusseldorf. BBC radio 6 Music are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the then re-issued ‘The Model‘ reaching the number one spot. I thought I’d give some of my thoughts on this truly remarkable band and who are actually quite unique in many ways.
I have to say I wasn’t hooked on anything prior to the ground breaking ‘Autobahn‘ which I’d play non stop most evenings whilst reading. It was so far apart from anything else I’d or pretty well everyone else had heard. From this I cotton on to bands like Tangerine Dream, Neu, Can and then later on La Dusseldorf and DAF, hence to term Krautrock!
The next trio of albums made up of ‘Radioactivity‘, ‘Trans Europe Express‘ and ‘The Man Machine‘ influenced me even more. These were recorded by Ralf, Florian, Wolfgang and Karl (the classic line-up). None of the singles off these albums managed to dent the charts. This was to change on the next release which coincided with advent of personal computers; the record in question was ‘Computer World‘. It spawned the singles ‘Pocket Calculator‘ and the title track whose b-side was ‘The Model‘. Radio stations opted for the flip side which resulted in it racing up the charts.
I have been very lucky in seeing this band play live quite a few times on various tours. This included back in June 1981 two shows locally in Leicester and Nottingham. The next time I witnessed them live was ten years later in Birmingham, when I bumped into Andy McCluskey (OMD), whose hair was often in my way of seeing them on stage at the Hummingbird. He was a top man having a quick chat about the gig afterwards. The following year I caught them at Leicester De Montfort University when I met Vince Clarke briefly. That gig was a warm up for the following nights show at the G-Mex, Manchester which I also attended when they played the ‘Stop Sellafield‘ gig along with U2, Public Enemy and Big Audio Dynamite.
Since then band members have changed but they have released some great recordings and they still have this mythical aura about them. I always remember the story a top EMI employee once told me that they had to drive to the group’s castle to discuss anything as the band wouldn’t have a telephone! Whether that was true or not it’s still makes me smile alot. Love them or hate them they have left a wonderful legacy and influenced many different types of music.