on 21 January 2009
Trans Europe Express is probably the most essential Kraftwerk album, and well deserving of it's 'influential/masterpiece' reputation. I think it's the best overall example of the group's work, although the trademark repetetive rythms may not be to everyone's taste. I think the title track does go on a bit too long but is still a stunning tour de force. My favourite track is Franz Schubert, which is a gorgeous melody that induces a strange nostalgic feeling for something, though I know not what. Hall of Mirrors is one of their iciest tracks, similar in feel to the title track to their previous album Radioactivity. Showroom Dummies is a for-runner of the next album's song The Robots. Eurpope Endless is a gloriously melodic celebration of Europe, and is another highlight. Overall, Trans Europe Express is a superb album, that despite being over 30 years old, still sounds remarkably fresh and unique, and is a real landmark in electronic music.
on 6 June 2012
One of the most enjoyable and innovative records of its era, Kraftwerk's 'Trans Europe Express' is a masterpiece of eerily beautiful, paranoid synth-pop. The album's general structure is, as one might expect, the journey of the Trans Europe Express train, yet the scope and feel of the album go far beyond the train itself (something that cannot be said for Kraftwerk's later 'Computer World'). There isn't a bad song on the entire album, though some are admittedly stronger than others. Opener 'Europe Endless' is the best piece on the album, and arguably Kraftwerk's finest ever song, awash with infectiously catchy electro beats, vocoder-filtered vocals, and prescient lyrics - "promenades and avenues, Europe endless/real lives and postcard views, Europe endless". The album does admittedly have a few relatively weaker (albeit still good) tracks, such as the slightly over-repetitive, yet hypnotic title track, and 'Metal on Metal', these being the two songs which adhere most strictly to the sounds and concept of the train, and lose out a little, from doing so.
Still, many of the numbers here, such as the classically-influenced 'Franz Schubert' and the creepy, yet wonderfully melodic 'Showroom Dummies'; an evocation both of social unrest and of the 'robot' image, which the band attempted to cultivate, almost reach the standard of 'Europe Endless' (whilst both sounding largely different to that track). In truth, there's little to criticise about 'Trans Europe Express'. It is a record which still sounds remarkably fresh and powerful over thirty years later (especially with this latest remastering), and which perfectly highlights why Kraftwerk were such an excellent and an influential band. For anyone looking for a great, early synth-pop record, or even just a hauntingly beautiful, pared-down record, then I would recommend 'Trans Europe Express' unreservedly.
on 28 April 2005
Awesome. It's still stunning more than a quarter of a century after its release. Kicking-off with the nine-minute opus Europe Endless with its evocative lyric, T.E.E is as much a masterpiece as The Man Machine (its sequel) still is.
I was just a lad of eleven when my older bro brought this home. Sticking in the turntable - no CD players in '77 chaps! -it was quite unlike anything we'd ever heard, although we both had dim memories of their breakthrough hit Autobahn from two years before. Even the cover photo was intriguing, smartly dressed young men with short hair being a bit rare in music in 1977!
The tracks here are stunning: The Hall Of Mirrors stark, formidable and riveting, it was later covered by Siouxsie & The Banshees. To say this album was influential is a distinct understatement. Loads of people picked up on what Kraftwerk were doing in Dusseldorf. From Bowie and Eno in Berlin, to the embryonic Human League in Sheffield, to The Yellow Magic Orchestra in Tokyo to Gary Numan in west London and even hip-hop DJs in New York, this was the boy and it still is.
The title track was ruthlessly plagiarised to form the main riff to Afrika Bambaataa's Planet Rock (Kraftwerk sued him) and is a superb 'electronic blues' (a phrase suggested to them by a friend) that evokes the train journey across the continent. The band struck upon the idea of inviting journalists on board a special run of the real-life TEE, piping the album through the train's speakers and everyone getting totally dog-faced during the trip!
The album was such a winner in New York's discos it won an award. A total gem for an amazing band. Music wouldn't be the same without the inspiration of the founding fathers of modern electronic music. A classic album from a classy outfit.
I've always thought that Trans Europe Express is a record that couldn't have been made anywhere else than Europe. As before, with Autobahn, the travel theme is central but several things have come together to make this record a more focused and rewarding experience than previous releases in my opinion.
The improvement in technology, which has vital implications when you're using state of the art technology as the bedrock of your groups music, is obvious to the ear as it was to be on the following two releases up to 'Computer World'. The technological ability to produce more complex rhythms and melodies really comes together on the key title track. The full influence of Trans Europe Express really came to the fore with the sampling and 'borrowing' of parts of the record by the hip-hop electro movement in the States during the early eighties and house music thereafter.
The atmosphere of the record is interesting. The use of new technology and name checks of contemporaries such as "Iggy Pop" and "David Bowie" is contrasted by the references to a golden era of travel and an evocation of an endless European continent of palaces and classic cities. New sits comfortably with the old.
With all Kraftwerk records the melodies are very strong and the songs are loaded with hooks which will keep you humming them for days after hearing the record. 'Showroom Dummies' was released as a minor hit single after the belated success of 'The Model' in the early 80's.
The key tracks are the title track and 'Europe Endless'. This album opened the door to what was to follow in the next 10 years as electro-pop became the norm. What sets this apart is that somehow Trans Europe Express still sounds fresh and has a stlye that many of the bands to follow could never capture.
An essential purchase.
Since the unfortunate "demise" of my Turntable , it is ages since I have had the chance to Re-visit the older Kraftwerk Albums .
Having seen them in 1981 (Computerworld Tour - hammersmith Odeon)
I feel they are still high amongst the inspiration for so much of todays music.
Of course I have been a fan for ages , so did not need much convincing.
The Minimalist approach , and thematic approach to their earlier works still stand the test of time , with classics like the Single "Showroom Dummies " included here and the Hypnotic "Europe Endless" and title track "Trans Europe Express" a superb album full of good memories.
It contains some of their most powerful work. Made at a time when other electronic producers were only finding their feet, Kraftwerk were in full gear with this release.
Any album that has two high quality songs like 'Europe Endless' and 'Hall of Mirrors' back to back, has to be up there with the classics. Opener 'Europe Endless' with its startlingly beautiful synth motif and gliding hi-hats sounds even better in this day and age. While 'Hall of Mirrors' is an ambient type track which shows off the often underplayed strength of the vocal talents of the Kraftwerk team.
Later we have the highly influential 'Trans Europe Express' which sounds like classical music with electronic rhythms. It could have come out of a Hitchcock movie.
The perfect Kraftwerk album.
on 6 September 2000
If anyone should doubt the enduring influence of this, and other Kraftwerk albums, they should compare and contrast Madonna's hit single, "Music", and the title track of this album. Hmmm... scarily similar, huh? As another Amazon reviewer writes in his review of Autobahn, this also is a great album to listen to on headphones, but it works equally well as ambient sound on long journeys. The absence of any particularly strong lyrical content actually serves to make the music more enjoyable without having to conciously listen, thus making the album ideal music to play while driving. Alleged to be one of the bands that influenced David Bowie's own electronic trilogy of Low, Heroes and Lodger, Kraftwerk inspired many of the early electronic artists from the eighties at home & abroad, and still provides inspiration for todays generation of pop artist, who weren't around when these albums were originally released. As the fade out track suggests, the influence of this album, and Kraftwerk generally is "Endless, endless"!
on 26 July 2011
Tschoo-tschtsch-tschooo-tsch...the Europe Express rolls in and straight into your brain, and there's no escape, never ever more. Yeah,actually, this is the prototype synthie-pop album. Cool, clear and reduced to its raw core, this elaborate work of skillfully conceived computer music will creep and stick into your mind.
Apart from other Kraftwerk masterpieces, this electronic sound landscape was frame and foundation for almost every synth-pop music to come. It's a must for each and every fan of this musical genre. Never ever was electronic pop music so dense and direct, ascending to a compelling acoustic force in delivering only striking essentials of bonding beats and mighty melodies.
Definitely, this work of modern art is the catchiest and most danceable sound wonder the German wunderkinder in the 1970s.
on 10 November 2012
This review is for: Trans-Europe Express Kraftwerk (Original issue CD with band members sleeve)
I recently found a U.S. 4-Track CD single of "Trans Europe Express" (Capitol Gold Cuts) (here's the link: Trans&Les Mannequins) which includes the 7" single version along with the album version and "Showroom Dummies" and "Les Mannequins (a French language version of "Showroom Dummies" from the French edition of this album). After playing it, I dug out the album to play again and decided to give it a review and also to mention the CD single for people who, like me, were unaware of its existence. Onto the album now...
My review is for the original CD with the band members on the cover, not the remaster. The sound quality on the original is excellent, considering it is from 1977. There are some slight anomalies but these are due to the Analogue recording process used at the time. Apparently the remastered version has attempted to correct these anomalies, but for me it is the original sound that makes this type of album sound authentic.
Crafty Kraftwerk list the tracks here as 7 tracks, but really there are 5 tracks present. "Europe Endless" is 53 seconds long and is little more than the title repeated over the end of the instrumental "Franz Schubert" before the instrumental fades out and the title continues to repeat. Similarly "Trans-Europe Express" and "Metal On Metal" are essentially one long track. In fact there was a 1977 U.S. Promo 12" of "Trans-Europe Express (Long Version)" which ran for 13 and a half minutes which was simply these two tracks. There is no gap between the two and "Metal On Metal" continues with the same rhythm and even the words "Trans-Europe Express" repeated. "Trans-Europe Express" is a classic, an early introduction to Electronic music in an era where it was completely new and inspired people like Gary Numan, New Order, Ultravox, OMD, David Bowie, the New Romantic movement - artists like Visage, and the early 80's Electro artists like Afrika Bambataa and Techno artists like Inner City. Such was the influence of Kraftwerk - true pioneers.
I had this album on vinyl since the early 80's. I wasn't quite old enough to be aware of it at the time. I'd also upgraded to CD sometime in the 90's. I'd mostly listened to the title track and "Showroom Dummies" over the years, but today I was struck by one track which I feel is really worth highlighting. "The Hall Of Mirrors" has lyrics about how even the greatest stars "find themselves" in the looking glass. They discover themselves, dislike themselves, change themselves, fix themselves, even live in the mirror. It's a sobering thought for how much time we all spend gazing at ourselves, judging ourselves, admiring ourselves or putting ourselves down. Beneath the surface of this song, beneath the image, there is another level and I feel this song speaks about self-reflection (how we think and feel about ourselves). That image we see in the mirror, the one we present to the outside world - is it the real you? Are we not all actors in a way? I'd never listened to the lyrics until today but they resonated deeply within me. Maybe I wasn't meant to hear them until now. Maybe you are reading this because the time has come for you to hear these lyrics also, or maybe you just want to enjoy some classic Electronic music. Either way, I can recommend this as an album that everyone should have in their collection.
This is a review of the remastered edition of this 1977 landmark recording. I purchased it after reading a 2009 review that claimed it as, "Probably the most influential album released in the final quarter of the past century." That's as maybe, but within the first few minutes of the opening track I was struck how it must have influenced Gary Numan's opening on his hit `Cars', and how it also affected some of Billy Currie`s work with Ultravox.
Given my love for European train travel, I'm surprised it's taken me this long to sit down and listen to the work all the way through. Kraftwerk passed me by in the 1970s. Their music was seen by me to be too cold, too clinical, and too repetitive. And `Trans Europe Express' is all of these. Instead, I was a Tangerine Dream man. As an example of the inane repetitiveness, the words "We are showroom dummies" is repeated at least thirty-eight times on the `Showroom Dummies' track.
What saves this disc is the incredible rhythm of the title track as it meanders across, below, and behind the stereo spectrum. For sure, the words "Trans Europe Express" are also repeated seemingly endlessly, but the difference here is that we are on a journey and there are wider changes in the arrangement of the music.
The CD comes with generous sleevenotes, not in terms of information but of photographic representations of the group that attempt to match the mood and titles of the CD's tracks: thus we see them at Dusseldorf Hauptbahnhof, as Franz Schubert, as showroom dummies.
I like the way the final track links the sound of its immediate predecessor with the words of the opening track, thus creating a kind of `Endless' circle. It's not, for me, a brilliant album, but it is good enough for me to order `Autobahn'.