Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk are a German electronic band that was initially active as a recording unit during the 1970s and early ’80s. Between 1970 and 1974, the band released four albums on Philips, followed by three further albums on Kling Klang/Capitol during the second half of the decade.

Members: Ralf Hütter (electronics, keyboards, vocals, percussion, guitar, 1970-71, 1971-present), Florian Schneider (electronics, keyboards, woodwinds, vocals, percussion, guitar, 1970-2008), Houschäng Nejadépour (guitar, 1970-71), Peter Schmidt (drums, 1970), Charly Weiss (drums, 1970), Thomas Lohmann (drums, 1970), Andreas Hohmann (drums, 1970), Eberhard Kranemann (bass, 1970-71), Klaus Dinger (drums, 1970-71), Michael Rother (guitar, electric violin, 1971), Plato Kostic (bass, 1973), Emil Schult (guitar, electric violin, 1973), Wolfgang Flür (electronic percussion, 1973-87), Klaus Röder (electric violin, guitar, 1974), Karl Bartos (electronic percussion, vocals, keyboards, 1975-91)


Background

Kraftwerk formed in 1970 through a musical partnership between musicians Ralf Hütter (b. 1946) and Florian Schneider (1947–2020). They met in 1968 as music students at Düsseldorf’s Robert Schumann Hochschule.

Schneider first recorded in the avant/free-psych band Pissoff with musician Eberhard Kranemann. One show at Düsseldorf’s Creamcheese Club was captured for posterity, as documented on the CDr Creamcheese Duesseldorf 1968, issued 41 years after the fact by Kunsthaus Boltenberg. (Kranemann later cut an album as Fritz Müller.)

In 1969, Schneider (on organ) and Hütter (on flute) formed Organization with bassist Butch Hauf and percussionists Fred Monicks and Basil Hammoudi. Their singular album, Tone Float, appeared in August 1970 on RCA Victor. It features five free-psych pieces, including the 20-minute title-track that consumes side one. The album was engineered by Conny Plank, who would co-produce the first four Kraftwerk albums.

Just as Tone Float hit the shelves, Organization splintered with Hammoudi going on to play with Ibliss. Schneider and Hütter formed Kraftwerk.


Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk released their self-titled debut album in November 1970 on Philips. It features four long avant-garde jams by organist–guitarist Ralf Hütter and flutist–violinist Florian Schneider. Ibliss drummer Andreas Hohmann plays on “Ruckzuck” and “Stratovarius.” Future Neu! drummer Klaus Dinger appears on “Vom Himmel Hoch.”

1. “Ruckzuck” (“Right Now” – 7:47)
2. “Stratovarius” (12:10)

3. “Megaherz” (“Mega Heart” – 9:30) references the word megahertz.
4. “Vom Himmel Hoch” (“From Heaven Above” – 10:12)

Sessions took place in July–September 1970 with Tone Float producer–engineer Conny Plank, who worked on concurrent titles by Andromeda, Gomorrha, Kluster, Nosferatu, and Sweet Smoke.

Ralf Hütter – organ (Hammond and Tubon), guitar, tubon, cover design
Florian Schneider-Esleben – flute, violin, percussion

Hütter designed the gatefold album cover, which shows an illustration of a red–white traffic cone (front and back) that reappears in the lower-center of the inner-gate amid Kraftwerk studio pics and a monochrome photo of a large electric generator.

Kraftwerk reached No. 30 on the German Offizielle Top 100 and ranked No. 21 on the 1971 year-end chart.


Kraftwerk 2

Kraftwerk released their second album, Kraftwerk 2, in January 1972 on Philips.

1. “Klingklang” (“Ding Dong” – 17:36)
2. “Atem” (“Breath” – 2:57)

3. “Strom” (“Current” – 3:52)
4. “Spule 4” (“Reel 4” – 5:20)
5. “Wellenlänge” (“Wavelength” – 9:40)
6. “Harmonika” (“Harmonica” – 3:17)

Recorded 26 September – 1 October 1971
Studio Star Musik (Hamburg, West Germany)
Ralf Hütter – organ, electric piano, guitar, bass, rhythm machine, xylophone, harmonica
Florian Schneider-Esleben – flutes, violin, guitar, effects, xylophone
Additional personnel
Konrad Plank – sound engineer

German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[12] 36


Ralf & Florian

Kraftwerk released their third album, Ralf & Florian, in October 1973 on Philips.

1. “Elektrisches Roulette” (“Electric Roulette” – 4:20)
2. “Tongebirge” (“Mountain of Sound” – 2:50)
3. “Kristallo” (“Crystals” – 6:20)
4. “Heimatklänge” (“The Bells of Home” – 3:45)

5. “Tanzmusik” (“Dance Music” – 6:35)
6. “Ananas Symphonie” (“Pineapple Symphony” – 13:55)

Recorded May – July 1973
Studio Kraftwerk (Düsseldorf, West Germany), Cornet (Cologne, West Germany), Rhenus (Cologne, West Germany), Studio 70 (Munich, West Germany)
Producer Ralf Hütter Florian Schneider

Ralf Hütter – vocals, keyboards, organ, electronics, bass guitar, guitar, zither, drums, percussion
Florian Schneider – vocals, vocoder, keyboards, electronics, flute, violin, guitar, percussion

Additional personnel
Emil Schult – “musicomix” poster design.
Konrad “Conny” Plank – sound engineer.
Barbara Niemöller – rear cover photo.
Robert Franck – front cover photo


Autobahn

Kraftwerk released their fourth album, Autobahn, in November 1974 on Philips.

1. “Autobahn” (“Motorway” – 22:30)

2. “Kometenmelodie 1” (“Comet Melody 1” – 6:20)
3. “Kometenmelodie 2” (“Comet Melody 2” – 5:44)
4. “Mitternacht” (“Midnight” – 4:40)
5. “Morgenspaziergang” (“Morning Walk” – 4:00)

Studio Kling Klang (Düsseldorf), Conny’s Studio (Cologne)
Producer Florian Schneider Ralf Hütter

Ralf Hütter – vocals, electronics, music, concept, production
Florian Schneider – vocals, electronics, music, concept, production
Klaus Röder – violin, guitar
Wolfgang Flür – percussion
Konrad Plank – engineer
Emil Schult – Cover painting
Barbara Niemoller – photography
Klaus Röder – electric violin on “Mitternacht”
The 2009 remaster contained further changes and additions:[72]
Ralf Hütter – voice, electronics, synthesizer, organ, piano, guitar, electronic drums, artwork reconstruction.
Florian Schneider – voice, vocoder, electronics, synthesizer, flute, electronic drums
Wolfgang Flür – electronic drums on “Kometenmelodie 1–2”
Klaus Röder – electric violin on “Mitternacht”
Johann Zambryski – artwork reconstruction

“Autobahn” single edit (3:28)
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[18] 4
Germany (Official German Charts)[15] 9
UK Singles (OCC)[21] 11
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[14] 12
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[16] 12
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[12] 15
South Africa[20] 15
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[17] 16
Ireland IRMA[19] 20
US Billboard Hot 100[22] 25

UK Albums (OCC)[78] 4
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[74] 5
US Billboard 200[79] 5
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[75] 7
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[77] 7
Australia Albums (Kent Music Report)[73] 9
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[76] 11 


Radio-Aktivität

Kraftwerk released their fifth album, Radio-Aktivität (aka Radio-Activity), in October 1975 on Kling Klang and Capitol.

1. “Geiger Counter” (“Geigerzähler” – 1:07)
2. “Radioactivity” (“Radioaktivität” – 6:42)
3. “Radioland” (5:50)
4. “Airwaves” (“Ätherwellen” – 4:40)
5. “Intermission” (“Sendepause” – 0:39)
6. “News” (“Nachrichten” – 1:17)

7. “The Voice of Energy” (“Die Stimme der Energie” – 0:55)
8. “Antenna” (“Antenne” – 3:43)
9. “Radio Stars” (“Radio Sterne” – 3:35)
10. “Uranium” (“Uran” – 1:26)
11. “Transistor” (2:15)
12. “Ohm Sweet Ohm” (5:39)

Studio Kling Klang (Düsseldorf, West Germany)
Producer Ralf Hütter Florian Schneider

Ralf Hütter – vocals, synthesizers, Orchestron, electronic piano, drum machine, electronics
Florian Schneider – vocals, vocoder, votrax, synthesizers, electronics
Karl Bartos – electronic percussion
Wolfgang Flür – electronic percussion

Additional personnel
Peter Bollig – technical engineer (Kling Klang Studio, Düsseldorf)
Walter Quintus – sound mix engineer (Rüssl Studio, Hamburg)
Robert Franke – photography
Emil Schult – artwork

A. “Radioactivity” (3:18)
B. “Antenna” (3:03)
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia) 8

France (SNEP)[29] 1
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[28] 4
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[30] 22


Trans Europa Express

Kraftwerk released their sixth album, Kraftwerk released their sixth album, Trans Europa Express  (aka Trans Europe Express), in May 1977 on Kling Klang and Capitol.

1. “Europe Endless” (“Europa Endlos” – 9:40)
2. “The Hall of Mirrors” (“Spiegelsaal” – 7:56)
3. “Showroom Dummies” (“Schaufensterpuppen” – 6:15)

4. “Trans-Europe Express” (“Trans Europa Express” – 6:52)
5. “Metal on Metal” (“Metall auf Metall” – 2:11)
6. “Abzug” (4:53)
7. “Franz Schubert” (4:26)
8. “Endless Endless” (“Endlos Endlos” – 0:55)

Recorded 1976
Studio Kling Klang (Düsseldorf, West Germany)
Producer Ralf Hütter Florian Schneider

Ralf Hütter – voice, synthesizers, Vako Orchestron, synthanorma-sequenzer, electronics, producer
Florian Schneider – voice, vocoder, votrax, synthesizer, electronics, producer
Karl Bartos – electronic percussion
Wolfgang Flür – electronic percussion

Technical
Peter Bollig – engineer
Bill Halverson – engineer (The Record Plant, Hollywood)
Thomas Kuckuck – engineer (Rüssl Studio, Hamburg)

Design
Maurice Seymour – photography
J. Stara – photography

A. “Trans-Europe Express” (3:56)
B. “Franz Schubert” (3:25)
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[13] 15
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[11] 26
US Billboard Hot 100[14] 67

French Albums (SNEP)[70] 2
Italian Albums (FIMI)[73] 8
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[71] 32
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[74] 32
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)[72] 38
UK Albums (OCC)[67] 49


Die Mensch-Maschine

Kraftwerk released their seventh album, Die Mensch-Maschine (aka The Man Machine), in May 1978 on Kling Klang and Capitol.

1. “The Robots” (“Die Roboter” – 6:10)
2. “Spacelab” (5:50)
3. “Metropolis” (6:01)

4. “The Model” (“Das Model” – 3:38)
5. “Neon Lights” (“Neonlicht” – 9:03)
6. “The Man-Machine” (“Die Mensch-Maschine” – 5:28 )

Recorded 1977–1978
Studio Kling Klang (Düsseldorf, West Germany)
Producer Ralf Hütter Florian Schneider

Ralf Hütter – album concept, artwork reconstruction (2009 remaster), cover, electronics, keyboards, Orchestron, production, Synthanorma Sequenzer, synthesiser, vocoder, voice
Florian Schneider – album concept, electronics, production, synthesiser, vocoder, Votrax
Karl Bartos – electronic drums
Wolfgang Flür – electronic drums

Additional personnel
Günther Fröhling – photography
Leanard Jackson – engineering
Karl Klefisch – artwork
Joschko Rudas – engineering
Henning Schmitz – engineering assistance
Johann Zambryski – artwork reconstruction (2009 remaster)

Studios
Recorded at Kling Klang Studio in Düsseldorf, Germany
Mixed at Studio Rudas in Düsseldorf, Germany

“The Robots”
Released: May 1978
A. “Die Roboter” (4:20)
B. “Spacelab” (3:34)

“The Model”
Released: September 1978
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[7] 43

1982 re-release
UK Singles (OCC)[11] 1
Ireland (IRMA)[10] 4
West Germany (Official German Charts)[12] 7
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[9] 20
Australia (Kent Music Report)[8] 33
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[7] 41

“Neon Lights”
Released: December 1978

German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[31] 12
French Albums (SNEP)[30] 14
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[28] 15


Computerwelt

Kraftwerk released their eighth album, Computerwelt (aka Computerworld), in May 1981 on Kling Klang and Warner Bros.

1. “Computer World” (“Computerwelt” – 5:05)
2. “Pocket Calculator” (“Taschenrechner” – 4:55)
3. “Numbers” (“Nummern” – 3:20)
4. “Computer World 2” (“Computerwelt 2” – 3:20)

5. “Computer Love” (“Computerliebe” – 7:15)
6. “Home Computer” (“Heimcomputer” – 6:16)
7. “It’s More Fun to Compute” (4:14)

Recorded 1979–1981
Studio Kling Klang (Düsseldorf, West Germany)
Producer Ralf Hütter Florian Schneider

Ralf Hütter – voice, vocoder, synthesizer, keyboards, Orchestron, Synthanorma Sequenzer, electronics, software
Florian Schneider – vocoder, speech synthesis, synthesizer, electronics, software
Karl Bartos – electronic drums, software
Wolfgang Flür – software

Technical
Ralf Hütter – mixing, cover, original artwork reconstruction, album concept, production
Florian Schneider – mixing, cover, album concept, production
Peter Bollis – hardware
Hermann J. Poertner – hardware
Gerd Rothe – hardware
Pit Franke – software
Karl Klefisch – software
Falk Kübler – software
Takeshi Shikura – software
Martin Tewis – software
Carol Martin – software
Tom Lanik – software
Doreen D’Agostino – software
Marvin Katz – software
Bob Krasnow – software
Günter Spachtholz – software
Joachim Dehmann – software

Emil Schult – cover
Günter Fröhling – photos
Johann Zambryski – original artwork reconstruction

“Pocket Calculator”
Released: May 1981

“Computer Love”
Released: July 1981

German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[35] 7
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[34] 14
UK Albums (OCC)[7] 15
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[37] 27
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[36] 28
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[39] 32
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[33] 51
US Billboard 200[38] 72 


“Tour de France”

On August 3, 1983, Kraftwerk released the standalone single “Tour de France.” It appeared as a standard 7″ with a vocal and instrumental version. More common is the 12″ EP with an elongated vocal version.

1. “Tour de France (Long Version)” (6:30)
2. “Tour de France” (3:00)
3. “Tour de France (Instrumental)” (2:40)


Electric Café

Kraftwerk released their ninth album, Electric Café, in December 1986 on Kling Klang and Warner Bros.

1. “Boing Boom Tschak” (2:57)
2. “Techno Pop” (7:42)
3. “Musique Non-Stop” (5:45)

4. “The Telephone Call” (“Der Telefon-Anruf” – 8:03)
5. “Sex Object” (“Sex Objekt” – 6:51)
6. “Electric Café” (4:20)

Recorded 1982–1986
Studio Kling Klang (Düsseldorf, West Germany)
Producer Ralf Hütter Florian Schneider Karl Bartos

Ralf Hütter – voice, vocoder, keyboards, electronics
Florian Schneider – vocoder, speech synthesis, electronics
Karl Bartos – electronic drums; vocals on “The Telephone Call”[13]
Band member Wolfgang Flür is included in a subsequent general list of personnel, but is not credited with a musical or production role in these recordings.[14]

Technical
Henning Schmitz – engineer (Kling Klang Studio)
Joachim Dehmann – engineer (Kling Klang Studio)
Fred Maher – music data transfer (Axis Studio, NYC)
Bill Miranda – music data transfer
François Kevorkian – mixing (Right Track, NYC)
Ralf Hütter – mixing (Right Track, NYC), original artwork reconstruction, album concept, production
Ron St. Germain – mixing (Right Track, NYC)
Bob Ludwig – mastering
Rebecca Allen – computer graphics
Steve Di Paola – computer graphics
Robert McDermott – computer graphics
Amber Denker – computer graphics
Peter Oppenheimer – computer graphics
Hubert Kretzschmar – design
Johann Zambryski – original artwork reconstruction
Florian Schneider – album concept, production

“Musique Non-Stop”
Released: October 1986
4:13 (7″ version)
5:45 (album version)
6:22 (12″ version)

“The Telephone Call”
Released: February 1987
3:50 (single version)
b/w “Der Telefon-Anruf” (German Version)

Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[19] 9
Icelandic Albums (Tónlist)[18] 10
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[17] 23


Discography:

  • Kraftwerk (1970)
  • Kraftwerk 2 (1972)
  • Ralf & Florian (1973)
  • Autobahn (1974)
  • Radio-Aktivität (1975)
  • Trans Europa Express (1977)
  • Die Mensch-Maschine (1978)
  • Computerwelt (1981)
  • Tour de France (EP, 1983)
  • Electric Café (1986)

Sources:

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