Kraftwerk ceased to record albums proper after 1986’s Electric Cafe. Electronics sounds had become mainstream in rock and pop and their world was effectively done. Since then they have concentrated on honing, revisiting, modifying and upgrading the body of work they began 12 years earlier.
This vinyl edition is part of a wider release which will also include Blu-rays of their live performances of albums including Trans Europe Express, The Man-Machine and Computer World in venues including the Tate Modern in London and the Sydney Opera House. The visual component, missing here, of course, is vital; in their own time, Kraftwerk had to perform in ugly, all-purpose, brown-panelled venues. Now, they get to showcase the music as part of a fully realised audiovisual art work.
Although recorded in immaculate audio fidelity, these live versions are scrupulously faithful to the originals – why gild perfect lilies? There are subtle alterations here and there, however: the flute on the original Autobahn is replaced with a keyboard line. The flute was a feature of pre-1974 Kraftwerk albums, but that’s a period they would prefer not to revisit. Still, for the audiophile Kraftwerk completist this is an essential purchase.