Kraftwerk is from Dusseldorf, Germany. Founding members Ralf Hutter and Florian Schnieder released an album in 1968 named Tone Float that featured five experimental tracks, the longest of them being the 20:45 title track. The album is not in general release, and only a few original copies remain in circulation (be prepared to pay top dollar if you see one). The band's name at that stage was Kraftwerk-Organisation.
In 1970, Kraftwerk 1 was released, again featuring the two original members. It contained just four tracks, again quite experimental, but did show signs of what was about to come in later releases. In 1971, Kraftwerk 2 was released, which again featured just the two original band members. It contained six more-refined tracks, yet was still in the experimental stages of their development. "Kling Klang" was the longest of these, running 17:36. In 1973 they released Ralf And Florian, a montage of six tracks that were more refined and structured.
In late 1973, Ralf and Florian were joined by two "electronic percussionists" in the form of Wolfgang Flur and Karl Bartos. The result was the now critically acclaimed Autobahn album, which was released in 1974. This album is heralded by many critics who consider it a landmark of electronic music. Bands like Depeche Mode, OMD, The Human League and Gary Numan have praised the album and cited it as an influence.
1975 saw the release of Kraftwerk's sixth album, Radioactivity, themed on the effects and activities of radio waves and radioactivity as a result of nuclear testing. This was a real "statement" album with 12 tracks. The cover features a photo of a black old-time radio.
Their 1977 album Trans Europe Express
helped launch Kraftwerk to popularity in Europe. The cover shows the band members for the first time - all dressed impeccably. They followed this up with their 1978 album The Man Machine
, which included the first German #1 hit in the UK, "The Model," which became a hit when it was released as a "double A-side" with "Computer Love
" in 1981. The Man Machine
also features Kraftwerk's first real attempt at a "love" song: "Neon Lights."
Other tracks from this album include "Spacelab," "Metropolis," "The Man Machine" and "Robots." The album cover again features all of the members, standing on a stairwell, dressed very strikingly in red shirts with black ties.
At at time when home computers and electronic technology was in it's infancy, Kraftwerk's 1981 album Computer World
introduced the world to computer technobabble, which many critics considered way ahead of its time. The album featured "Pocket Calculator
" and the title track, which has been used on many occasions as background or title music for television programs, most notably Tomorrow's World
on the BBC. The album, yellow in color, featuring a graphic design of a home PC with the band members faces on the screen, was an experiment with sounds and languages.
After a gap of five years, Kraftwerk released Electric Cafe, featuring the track "Music Non-Stop," which brought them another UK hit. This album wasn't received well by the critics as it wandered too far away from Kraftwerk's melodic tunes.
Kraftwerk The Mix, released in 1991, features remixes of most of their earlier works.
Their single "Tour De France" was released in 1997, but it did not appear on an album until 2003, when Kraftwerk finally released Tour De France as their first studio album in over 12 years. It features three remixes of the title track, plus the original. The theme of the album is a marriage of the physical and mechanical of the Tour De France, and features the songs "Electro kardiogram," "Vitamin," "Minimum-maximum" and "La Forme". The cover shows four cyclists racing.
Released in 2005, Minimum Maximum
features all of Kratfwerk's works on one album. All the tracks are live, and the videos that play in the background as they perform tell the stories of the tracks.
David - Dublin, Ireland, for all above
Kraftwerk's song "The Model" was covered by the tanz-metall group Rammstein in German and released under the name "Das Modell." Kraftwerk reportedly hates the cover.
Matt - Saugus, MA
In the 1998 movie The Big Lebowski
, there is a German techno-pop band called Autobahn, which is a parody of Kraftwerk. When The Dude is going through Maude's albums, he pulls out the fictional Autobahn album, which is behind Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream And Other Delights
, a real album.
Bertrand - Paris, France
From 1970 - 1974 the lineup changed continuously, most notably with guitarist Michael Rother and drummer Klaus Dinger who left later to form the Krautrock band "Neu!" The lineup considered classic (the one listed) came up with the album Autobahn
and the following tour in 1975. Flur left in 1986, Bartos in 1991. The current line up is the founders, Hutter and Schneider, as well as Fritz Hilpert (since 1990) and Henning Schmitz (since 1991)
Martin - Rostock, Germany