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4.4 out of 5 stars41
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 17 August 2002
The follow up to Autobahn, Radioactivity is Kraftwerk doing what they do best. Slightly more experimental than its predecessor Radioactivity is a subtle blend of simple, intelligent melodies and hints of higher brow conceptual ideas.
As with Autobahn mention should be made of the contrast of this lp to everything else that was happening in 1975. These were the days that if you wanted a new sound on a record, you had to invent the instrument that produced it. You didn't just pirate or buy the software !
Again, it works so beautifully as an 'entire' album experience rather than as individual tracks that you should listen to it alone and picture in your mind the austerity of post war Eastern Europe and Soviet Russia. The pre disaster Chernobyl experience if you like. It is, at the same time, beautiful in a cold and machine like way whilst laced with subtle mechanisation warnings as well as warnings of the very well known threat that radioactivity poses to its creators.
It is contemporary, electronic 'volkmusik' for a generation more at home with 'synthetic, elctronic sounds' than accoustic guitars and cowboy hats. Nevertheless, a form of folk music it is and all the better for it in my opinion.
This lp is as good as Autobahn. There are some reasons for considering it to be better, but surely that would be heresy !
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on 7 April 2005
What can you say? Kraftwerk are among the most original and incredible bands of musicians in the 20th Century. This is one of their best albums. Leaving the competition standing, and massively influential to bands throughout the 80s, 90s and 00s (can you imagine any of the 80's pop bands like Yazoo, Depeche Mode, et al. without Kraftwerk?) Kraftwerk produced beautiful minimal melodic electronic music for the age of the transistor. Theirs is a music that is both sublime and simple, emotional and mechanical, electronic and surgingly euphoric. How do you do that? We can only guess and stand back in wonder. Radioactivity, the title track is characteristic - a haunting melody, a simple vocal track and a rhythm backing to die for.
11 comment|19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This experimental album with its electronic sighs and bleeps and atmospheric crackles is such a timeless masterpiece not because of the electronics but because of the heavenly melodies and the engaging rhythms. The whooshes, the bleeps and the disembodied voices are just the icing on the cake although they give the music an other-worldly atmosphere. The title track is mesmerising in its ebb and flow, while Radioland and Airwaves get progressively more weird. The more I listen to it, the more I think that Radio Activity is by far Kraftwerk's most varied and innovative album. What set Kraftwerk's electronics apart from most of the other synth pioneers, is the sense of classical structure that underlies the music. True, Klaus Nomi also used classic and operatic structures but he came much later. Songs like Antenna and Ohm Sweet Ohm with their beautiful melodic hooks are as accessible and addictive as their huge hit Autobahn. I recommend this album to all fans of synthesizer artists like OMD, Eurythmics, Yazoo, Suicide, Gary Numan and Sparks, to enjoy the source that most of these artists drew from to some extent.
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on 14 October 2009
Is it just me, or is there something 'weird' going on about with these remasters?

On listening to them, the benefits they have are that they are warm, analogue sounding. But on closer inspection, it appears as though there is some noise-reduction stuff going on in the high registers - sometimes you hear the treble being muffled at particular points in the track - take a close listen to Radio-Activity, the title track for instance - Ralf's voice is muffled when something else brighter than his own voice comes in.

This is perhaps the best remaster out of all the albums. Computer World being the worst - followed by Trans Europe Express suffering from the same 'pumping' audio issue as mentioned above. Man Machine sounds superb though.

I feel the Kraftwerk boys have been playing with these masters - by trying to make them sound less noisey, removing hiss etc, to the detriment that they have compromised the audio quality in the upper registers. But I feel that most people will be quite happy with these remasters anyway - they're certainly an improvement on the previous CD releases which were really tinny and thin sounding.
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on 17 December 2009
Many fans have commented upon the `historical revisionism' of the CD artwork for the remastered Kraftwerk back catalogue. But seeing as how all the original artwork is still present, in some form or other, I don't think that is really that much of an issue. What does concern me is some of the comments about the remastering itself, which appears to be a more self-destructive form of revisionism. Radioactivity is a particular favourite of mine and it does appear (from listening to the samples on Amazon) that something is amiss. For, particularly in the case of Radioactivity, there was something aesthetically important in the background hiss and analogue sound itself. After all, a lot of the album uses shortwave radio noise and is homage to, and is inspired by, those weirdly distorted sounds out there in the analogue ether. Even the original cover, a picture of a 1930s valve radio set, speaks of a certain archaic, nostalgic and melancholic wonder of that strange soundscape. In general, I am a bit disturbed by this current fashion for cleaning up recordings. Especially when it seems to strip the recording of its original and accidental technological conditions under which it was made and therefore of its analogue warmth. Yes, I am aware that Kraftwerk are control freaks, but I think that they might have lost the plot some time back, because was it not this obsession with recording quality that halted the original `Techno Pop' album in the first place? While I can see the need for a good transfer to other formats, I think that, from `The Mix' onwards, that this fetishism (instead of concentrating on good melodies) killed most of the qualities that made them a great band. That said I am a big fan but, call me old fashioned, I am sticking with the original vinyl!
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I am now six albums into the Kraftwerk remasters and am loving them all.

Radioactivity, however, must surely rank up their as one of their greatest. First released in 1975, it still sounds current and not at all dated, there is not much electronic music that can say that for itself.

The album fits around the title track which is an absolute stunner. The werk sings in their slow, almost droning way to a backdrop of emotional sweeps and pans and drifting bites of morse code being tapped out on old telegraphs. A chanted backdrop of almost Gregorian feeling holds the disparate elements together. Just a brilliant, sublime track.

The other tracks hold together equally well although some are short lived, futuristic sounding soundgrabs and white noise, a la Boards of Canada and some UNKLE tracks.

This album gets heavy airplay on my CD player, the slow burning majesty of the tunes are clinically rendered but somehow infused with emotion in that way that very acts can pull off.

Listening to an electronic album from 1975 is astonishing in itself. Hearing it and not cringing with embarrassment is testament to how much of the DNA of electronic music these guys created.

Utterly essential.
22 comments|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This experimental album with its electronic sighs and bleeps and atmospheric crackles is such a timeless masterpiece not because of the electronics but because of the heavenly melodies and the engaging rhythms. The whooshes, the bleeps and the disembodied voices are just the icing on the cake although they give the music an other-worldly atmosphere. The title track is mesmerising in its ebb and flow, while Radioland and Airwaves get progressively more weird. The more I listen to it, the more I think that Radio Activity is by far Kraftwerk’s most varied and innovative album. What set Kraftwerk’s electronics apart from most of the other synth pioneers, is the sense of classical structure that underlies the music. True, Klaus Nomi also used classic and operatic structures but he came much later. Songs like Antenna and Ohm Sweet Ohm with their beautiful melodic hooks are as accessible and addictive as their huge hit Autobahn. I recommend this album to all fans of synthesizer artists like OMD, Eurythmics, Yazoo, Suicide, Gary Numan and Sparks, to enjoy the source that most of these artists drew from to some extent.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This experimental album with its electronic sighs and bleeps and atmospheric crackles is such a timeless masterpiece not because of the electronics but because of the heavenly melodies and the engaging rhythms. The whooshes, the bleeps and the disembodied voices are just the icing on the cake although they give the music an other-worldly atmosphere. The title track is mesmerising in its ebb and flow, while Radioland and Airwaves get progressively more weird. The more I listen to it, the more I think that Radio Activity is by far Kraftwerk's most varied and innovative album. What set Kraftwerk's electronics apart from most of the other synth pioneers, is the sense of classical structure that underlies the music. True, Klaus Nomi also used classic and operatic structures but he came much later. Songs like Antenna and Ohm Sweet Ohm with their beautiful melodic hooks are as accessible and addictive as their huge hit Autobahn. I recommend this album to all fans of synthesizer artists like OMD, Eurythmics, Yazoo, Suicide, Gary Numan and Sparks, to enjoy the source that most of these artists drew from to some extent.
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on 10 July 2002
The precision and presentation of the music is executed in a clinical manner. The music is sparse but is made dense with the 'electronic atmospherics' that is the background throughout the whole music exercise. What is also striking is both the use of German and English language making this a 'truly' International release. Some lovely moments in this CD that that would point the way forward to Kraftwerk, but also give them cause to look back and go 'negative' so to speak. Whereas they state on this release 'Radioactivity is in the air for you and me' as being a 'positive factor, they stated much later as in 'The Mix' "stop radioactivity". An interesting CD but, one to get 'last' after you have obtained Autobahn, Man Machine, Trans-Europe Express, Computer World, the Mix....approach the releases before Autobahn with caution as they are quite different. Rating 7/10 but an essential purchase for Kratwerk 'fans' ...
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VINE VOICEon 21 October 2002
Made in 1975 so even by Kraftwerk's standards this is very primitive sounding due to the fact that electronic equipment like keyboards and synths were only starting to be developed.
Nevertheless this is an album full of sweet melodies and clicking electronic drums and percussion. It has a darker feel than later albums, partly due to the albums subject matter, the threat of Radiation.
Some songs are very experimental but mostly they are very melodic and highly enjoyable tracks like 'Antenna' with its early bassline being a highlight and the dual language vocal on title track 'Radioactivity'.
Not advisable for an introduction to Kraftwerk, purchase 'Computer World' or 'Man Machine' first to get used to their sound.
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