Autobahn (album): Wikis

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Autobahn
Studio album by Kraftwerk
Released November 1974
Recorded 1974 at Conny Plank's Studio, Köln, Germany
Genre Electronica, Synthpop, Krautrock
Length 42:26
Label Philips
Vertigo
Mercury
Kling Klang
EMI
Parlophone
Warner Bros.
Elektra
Mute
Astralwerks
Producer Conny Plank, Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider
Professional reviews
Kraftwerk chronology
Ralf und Florian
(1973)
Autobahn
(1974)
Radio-Activity
(1975)
Singles from Autobahn
  1. "Autobahn" b/w "Kometenmelodie 1"
    Released: 1975, Vertigo 6147 012, UK
  2. "Comet Melody 2" b/w "Kristallo"
    Released: 1975, Vertigo 6147 015, UK
  3. "Autobahn" b/w "Morgenspaziergang"
    Released: 1975, Philips 6003 438, Germany
  4. "Kometenmelodie 2" b/w "Mitternacht"
    Released: 1975, Philips 6003 466, Germany
Alternative cover
Cover of the 1974 UK release
Alternative cover
Cover design of the 2009 remaster

Autobahn (German for "motorway") is the fourth studio album by Kraftwerk, released in 1974. The album’s 22-minute title track was edited to about 3 minutes for single release and reached #25 on the US Billboard charts, charting even higher around Europe, including #11 in the UK. This commercial success came after the band had released three experimental and purely instrumental albums.

Autobahn is also the first of Kraftwerk’s concept albums of sorts, which they have done up to 2003.

Autobahn is not a completely electronic album, as violin, flute, and guitar are used along with synthesizers. The title track features both untreated and vocoded vocals; the remaining tracks are purely instrumental. Kraftwerk used a Minimoog, an ARP Odyssey, an EMS Synthi AKS and various devices of their own design and implementation, such as their famous electronic drums.

The title track is intended to capture the feeling of driving on the Autobahn: from travelling through the landscape, the high-speed concentration on the fast lane, to tuning the car radio and the monotony of a long trip. It describes the A555 from Köln to Bonn - the first Autobahn ever. It was built under the mayor Konrad Adenauer in 1929 to 1932 without any intersections.

The remaining tracks have a two-part structure – an introduction followed by a main section – and are loosely based around a theme of the night, beginning with twin tracks "Kometenmelodie (Comet Melody) 1 and 2", then an ominous-sounding "Mitternacht" (Midnight) and the final track, "Morgenspaziergang" (Morning Stroll). This last track begins as a dawn chorus bird-song effect created by the electronic instruments, with an extended conclusion that uses a repeating variation of the melodic phrase heard in the first instrumental section of "Autobahn".

The front cover of the original German album was painted by Emil Schult, a long-time collaborator of Ralf and Florian, who also co-wrote the lyrics to the song "Autobahn". The version released in the UK on the Vertigo label in 1974 had a differently designed cover, produced by the label’s in-house marketing department.

The rear cover of the original LP showed Hütter, Schneider, Röder and Emil Schult seated as if in the back of a car. Wolfgang Flür’s head was added to the group photo (superimposed over Emil Schult’s) when it was decided that he would stay as a permanent member of the band. However, for the 2009 remaster booklet this image has been replaced by the version originally photographed.

Klaus Röder was not a member of the band for very long, and had left before the recording sessions were completed.

Konrad Plank had reputedly played a large role in developing the Kraftwerk sound,[3] and much of the recording and all of the mixing of the work took place at his studio in Cologne. Plank's contribution to the sound was evident when comparing the album version of "Kometenmelodie" with the demo-quality single "Kohoutek-Kometenmelodie", that had been recorded without his input.

Flür had played with the band since late in 1973, first appearing with them on a Berlin TV performance to promote their Ralf und Florian album. On that show, he debuted the band’s custom-built electronic percussion pads, and these feature heavily on the Autobahn album.

A newly remastered edition of the album was released by EMI, Mute Records (in the UK) and Astralwerks Records (in the US) on CD and digital download in October 2009, with a heavyweight vinyl edition released in November 2009.

Contents

Track listing

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Side one

  1. "Autobahn" ("Motorway") (Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider, Emil Schult) – 22:42

Side two

  1. "Kometenmelodie 1" ("Comet Melody 1") (Hütter, Schneider) – 6:26 (inspired by Comet Kohoutek)
  2. "Kometenmelodie 2" ("Comet Melody 2") (Hütter, Schneider) – 5:48
  3. "Mitternacht" ("Midnight") (Hütter, Schneider) – 3:43
  4. "Morgenspaziergang" ("Morning Walk") (Hütter, Schneider) – 4:04

Personnel

Original album credits

[4]

1985 credits

When the album was re-released in 1985 there was the following amendment:

[5]

2009 credits

The 2009 remaster contained further changes and additions:

[6]

Equipment

Release details

The originally released formats are shown below. These may differ from currently available versions.

Country Date Label Format Catalog
Germany November 1974 Philips Vinyl 6305 231 Motorway symbol sticker on front cover
November 1974 Philips Cassette 7105 181
June 1985 EMI-Electrola Vinyl 1C 064 2400 701
June 1985 EMI-Electrola Cassette 1C 064 2400 704
February 1986 EMI-Electrola CD CDP 564 7 46153 2
United Kingdom November 1974 Vertigo Vinyl 6360 620 Unique UK-only embossed cover design
May 1975 Vertigo Cassette 7149 005 UK-only cover design
July 1975 Vertigo 8-track 7710 702 UK-only cover design
June 1985 EMI-Parlophone Vinyl AUTO 1 (24 0070 1) Catalog number was given as EMC 3405 in pre-release listings until late-1984
June 1985 EMI-Parlophone Cassette TC AUTO 1 (24 0070 4) Catalog number was given as TC EMC 3405 in pre-release listings until late-1984
February 1986 EMI CD CDP 7 46153 2
United States 1975 Vertigo Vinyl VEL-2003
1975 Vertigo Cassette VCR-4-200
1975 Vertigo 8-track VC-8-2003
1985 Warner Bros. Vinyl 9 25326-1
1985 Warner Bros. Cassette 9 25326-4
1987 Elektra CD 60789-2

[7] [8]

References

  1. ^ Snow, Mat (November 2009). "Gut Vibrations". Mojo (London: Bauer Media Group) (192): 110. ISSN 1351-0193. 
  2. ^ Cavanagh, David. "Uncut Reviews: Kraftwerk - Reissues". Uncut. http://www.uncut.co.uk/music/kraftwerk/reviews/13709. Retrieved October 22, 2009. 
  3. ^ Flür, Wolfgang (2000-11-29). Kraftwerk: I Was a Robot. Sanctuary Publishing. ISBN 186074320X.  This was described in detail in this autobiography, where Flür describes many meetings with Plank at his home/studio, and how his input was allegedly later downplayed.
  4. ^ (1974) Album notes for Autobahn by Kraftwerk [LP], credits on the rear of the sleeve; Philips (6305 231).
  5. ^ (1985) Album notes for Autobahn by Kraftwerk [LP], re-release, credit line on the vinyl side B label; EMI-Parlophone (AUTO 1/EJ 24 0070 1B).
  6. ^ (2009) Album notes for Autobahn (Digital Remaster) by Kraftwerk [CD], booklet notes; Mute Records (CDSTUMM303).
  7. ^ http://www.poecker.homepage.t-online.de/01/discog.htm Kraftwerk International Discography
  8. ^ http://www.discogs.com/Kraftwerk-Autobahn/master/2994 Discogs.com

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