Kraftwerk is the most influential electronic music band of all time. Probably the best, too. Their music launched multiple musical revolutions, and the imprint of their classic albums permeates virtually all beat-oriented electronic music (from synth-pop to hip-hop) being made to this day. Juan Atkins, Gary Numan, Afrika Bambaataa, the Berlin Trilogy, the Human League, the rise of house and electro, the Art of Noise, Front 242, Depeche Mode, the Artificial Intelligence revolution; all those stories – and hundreds of others – begin here.

I could write a book or two on these guys, but I'll restrain myself. There have been various peripheral members (most notably Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür) but the core of the band is Florian Schneider and Ralf Hütter . They still go to their Kling Klang studios and make music every day even though no new LP (referred to as Kling Klang produkt) has been released for a great number of years. Kraftwerk's music still finds its way onto new releases; they are the most frequently sampled band of all time, and James Brown is the only other artist who even comes close in that category.

Their album Autobahn (1974) introduced many people to the synthesizer; the title track was an international smash hit. Their essential albums are Trans-Europe Express (1977), The Man-Machine (1978) and Computer World (1981). Buy them immediately. The songs on these albums gave birth to whole genres, and have become virtual "standards" of electronic music, sounding like both nothing and everything else out there.

Other works include the LPs Kraftwerk (1971), Kraftwerk 2 (1972), Ralf & Florian (1973), Radio-Activity (1975), Electric Cafe (1986), and the non-LP singles "Tour de France" (1983) and "Expo 2000" (1999). They are nonessential, but vital to the breadth of the Kraftwerk canon and important in their own right. Many Kraftwerk albums and singles are available in multiple languages.

KW newbies should get The Mix (1991), a sort of best-of with reworkings of Kraftwerk classics.

(Additonally, the first album by the band of the same name, an experimental and minimalist record that is a mix of proto-industrial sounds and kraut rock. Also known as Kraftwerk 1)

Tracks - Kraftwerk (album)

  • Ruckzuck 7:47
  • Stratovarius 12:10
  • Megaherz 9:30
  • Vom Himmel Hoch 10:12

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