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Monday, November 14, 2011

100 Records That Shook The World, #34

Autobahn (LP)


In 1970, Florian Schneider and friend and fellow musician Ralf Hütter formed Kraftwerk (which means Power Station, in case anyone was wondering). The pair had met as students and had played together in a band named Organisation who released one album on RCA entitled Tone Float.

Kraftwerk's first three LPs were mainly experimental art-rock, very free-form and without any catchy hooks. Strictly muso stuff. Then in 1974 came a record that not only changed the way Kraftwerk sounded, but changed music forever.

At this stage in their career Kraftwerk were still using traditional instruments as well as the newer MiniMoog and the ARP Odyssey. Florian was, after all, a flautist and violinist, and the previous three LPs had seen them use these extensively, treating them with effects and creating an electronic flute also.

The 22-minute "Autobahn" on side 1 was different to say the least. The record company edited it down to a 3-minute single and it reached number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. Kraftwerk had arrived, and electronic music, which up until that point had been just a novelty, was here to stay. It is widely acknowledged that Kraftwerk's music has directly influenced many popular artists from many diverse genres of music.
Their musical style and image can be heard and seen in later electronic music by such modern legends as Gary Numan, Ultravox, John Foxx, OMD, Human League, Depeche Mode, Visage, and Soft Cell, to name a few. Kraftwerk also influenced other forms of music such as hip hop, house, and drum and bass, and they are also regarded as pioneers of the electro genre. Most notably, "Trans Europe Express" and "Numbers" were interpolated into "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force, one of the earliest hip-hop/electro hits.
Joy Division and New Order were heavily influenced by Kraftwerk. Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis was a fan of Kraftwerk, and showed his colleagues records that would influence both groups. New Order's song "Your Silent Face" has some similarities with the track "Europe Endless", and had a working title of KW1, or Kraftwerk 1. New Order also recorded a song called "Krafty" that appeared as a single and on the album Waiting for the Sirens' Call. New Order also sampled "Uranium" in their 1983 songs "Blue Monday" and "The Beach".
David Bowie's "V-2 Schneider", which was released as the B-side to the "Heroes" single, and also features on the album "Heroes", is a tribute to Florian Schneider.

Here's the Fab Four.

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