on 6 July 2002
What were you doing in 1974 ? Whilst the rest of the world were glamming it up and hippies were fast disappearing, Kraftwerk were sitting in a studio in Dussledorf making music. Not only were they writing songs but they were creating the instruments on which to play them. You have to consider what the world was listening to in 1974 to truly appreciate the importance and the innovation represented by this lp.
With its release Kraftwerk had created an electronic prototype for a style of music which would take the world by storm and remains a major influence today. Thats a lot for album to live up to, but Autobahn is equal to the task.
Turn the hi fi on, sit back, close your eyes and drift away with possibly the finest popular music lp ever made. It has everything - art ('A simply perefect musical painting of a drive down the motorway''), tune and beauty. Its a masterpiece, if you don't own it already your music collection is not complete.
The tunes are timeless and it has aged so much better than most lps released at the time. No lp comes with a guarantee that you'll like it, but this is about as close as one gets to having one. Brilliant.
on 20 December 2009
The track, Autobahn, is a sublime, seminal, exciting, interesting, fascinating and above all, excellent piece of work. This music sounds great now - imagine what it must have sounded like in 1974! You're in your bedsit, monging out to Yes when yer mate comes round and puts this on the turntable; it must have been a tremendous experience. It's a little symphony of superb sonics, a coherent opus that can blow you away with its amazing noises and fantastic weirdness, excellent rhythmic progression and, let's say it again, great noises. Side two is a departure, but has some interesting stuff on it. But it's Autobahn itself which is the golden treasure. This should be studied by students of music. Maybe it is. If you like this, you'll also like Kraftwerk's TEE, also ace.
on 19 July 2003
I find the title track of this album to be the most intensely moving piece of music - bar none. A small nod backwards with Florian's flute, but a sign of things to come from Kraftwerk with the use of the Vocoder and the precise rhythmical qualities.
Don't listen to Autobahn when stuck on the M25, but if you're driving long distance at night, put this track on repeat and go into a trance and feel yourself at one with your car - ManMachine indeed!
If the other more 'experimental' tracks from the album appeal, you could do worse than searching out some early (pre-1975) Can albums.
on 4 April 2000
This album was originally released in the mid-Seventies. The single "Autobahn" was extremely successful in the UK and for many people was the first piece of electronic music they had ever heard. The version of "Autobahn" included on the album is much longer and the better for it. The track is written to be reminiscent of a lonely journey on a motorway and starts with the slamming of a truck door followed by the sound of a large engine roaring into life. The synths are used to approximate the various noises of whining engines, horns and the background hum of the drive. Singing is quite sparse and in German. This track changed the face of popular music. Suddenly many young people who would have taken up the guitar bought a synth instead. Many groups have taken their inspiration from Kraftwerk - this is where it all started for most of them. Other tracks include "Kometenmelodie 1" and "Kometenmelodie 2". The first of these is a ponderous track with slowly rising and falling synth notes creating a darkly atmospheric piece. The second is very similar in structure but much quicker giving this piece a very upbeat feel. The comet Kahoutek had just passed the Earth very closely and at the time there was much speculation in the media as to the looming death of our planet. The slower of the two pieces outlines its approach with the morbid thoughts accompanying it. The second is in the public mood of its uneventful fly-by and departure. The remaining tracks on the album are really of interest only to completists; they have little in common with the groundbreaking title track or the two Kometenmelodien.
on 7 July 2002
This album is very good if not slightly overated. A lot of people believe this to be Kraftwerk's best album, but in my opinion Trans-Europe Express and The Man Machine are far greater. But this album and the technology used was still well ahead of its time in 1975.
The opening song Autobahn is a classic, that clocks in at approaching 25 minutes. For those who don't know, the theme of the song is car transport, and it simulates a journey along a motorway, sounds boring, but isn't. This is one of thier most famous songs, and also one of thier first to include lyrics.
Apart from this amazing opening track the rest of the album doesn't fare that well, with the final track on the album being the pick of the remaining 4 tracks. This song has a nice flute tune that repeats throughout, amongst the backdrop of static noise and the sound of untuned radio's.
Overall this is an essential part of any Kraftwerk fan's collection, but it is not their best album.
on 31 January 2006
Autobahn is one of Kraftwerk's more conceptual offerings, attempting to capture the essence of a drive along the titular motorway system, in a way that predates the similarly expansive concept of 1977's Trans-Europe Express. It's perhaps less fully-formed than that particular album, or certain others that would follow (most notably The Man Machine and Computer World), but it does have that distinctive Kraftwerk charm and a sound that refuses to date!! Unlike their later albums, Autobahn features snatches of "real" instrumentation amongst the layers of robotic synths, most notably the drums - which have a less mechanical and more propulsive feel to them here - and the guitar - which pushes the title track more towards progressive acts like Pink Floyd (particularly the early sound of the pre Medal/Atom Heart Mother era) and their Krautrock-sampling contemporaries, Yellow Magic Orchestra.
The title track is one of Kraftwerk's greatest achievements... a twenty-two minute-long piece of music that manages to capture the lulled ambience of a long motorway trip (from the sense of freedom as you hit the open-stretch, to the endless possibilities suggested by the road laid out in front, with the swirl of landscapes blurred on either side, the buzz of passing motorists and the eventual frustration of a last minute jam all adding to the overall sense of confusion), all wrapped up in a propulsive swirl of evocative instrumental flourishes, disarming production effects, chanted vocals, and an approach to pop music not a million miles away from the Beach Boys!! At twenty-two minutes it's not nearly long enough, with the different breaks, movements and mid-song stretches drawing us in and holding us entranced by the sheer enormity and imagination of their sound and style, whilst further demonstrating, once and for all, that Kraftwerk are one of those life-changing, era-defining bands that have managed to invent their own brand of pop music, whilst, simultaneously, re-inventing and perhaps even straddling a number of other, more disparate musical genres, from electronic or progressive rock, to dance, hip-hop, post punk and pop.
The rest of the album, no matter how great, can only pale in comparison with the lulled ambience of the opening track... with Kometenmelodie 1 offering us something more dense and menacing than the joyous pop of Autobahn, with gloomy synthesisers and an ominous swell of distortion creating a dark sense of dissonance, which is eventually undercut by the more pop-like sound of Kometenmelodie 2. The fact that the song Autobahn is followed by two songs essentially titled "comet melody", which in turn will segue into songs called Midnight (Mitternacht) and Morning Walk (Morgenspaziergang), perhaps imply that the concept behind the album goes deeper than the simple notion of driving on the motorway, perhaps suggesting the idea of escape (from where exactly?), with the dark and foreboding Kometenmelodie 1 giving way to the bright and breezy Kometenmelodie 2, before luring us into those lush and dreamy closers (the metaphorical escape complete: sanctuary found in a blissed-out pop utopia!!).
Autobahn is a fascinating album... an ornate and esoteric collection of music that shows Kraftwerk mixing joyous pop sophistication with propulsive experiments in the field of all things "electronic". It still sounds fantastic too, with the studio built electronic equipment still sounding incredible - even when compared to more recent electronic albums that were created digitally - and while the electro-pop bands that were influenced by Kraftwerk - such as Depeche Mode, New Order, Duran Duran, Gary Numan, Ultravox, etc - now sound dated and cheap, the work of Kraftwerk still sounds absolutely peerless. Autobahn is a bold and really quite ground-breaking record, one that managed to push the envelope in terms of electronic music, and led Kraftwerk into a transitional phase from that early, more progressive sound, into the more enchanting pop sound of Trans-Europe Express, The Man Machine and Computer World.
on 31 October 2012
I've owned a CD of Autobahn since the late 1980s, and I need hardly sing the praises of the actual music on here - this is one of the most seminal electronic albums ever recorded, and the title track is a joy!
But I have just acquired this 2009 remastered edition, and am decidedly ambivalent about it. On the plus side, they haven't compressed it to hell as part of the "loudness wars" - the dynamics are intact. But I feel they have been very over-zealous with noise reduction. On the original master, quiet tracks like Morgenspaziergang have audible broadband hiss and even a bit of mains hum in the background. I can see why they thought they need to "fix" this - but they've gone far too far, and instead of hiss, there are now quite noticeable digital gurgle-wurgle artefacts. It's a real schoolboy error and I'm very surprised to hear something as hamfisted as this on a band who pride themselves in sonic perfection.
Also, removing Wolfgang Flür's head from the back cover photo is rather meanspirited as well.
I remember a time when every Party I went to had to have this album (alongside Rubycon , Phaedra , Oxygene etc...)
It was a great album then , but a Milestone now.(2005)
Released at the time of "Album Bands" who were less interested in the singles charts ( Staying Power as opposed to 1 hit wonders). This has to be the Ultimate KW "Theme" Album .
For younger listeners they may have forgotten that you used to have to actually flip an album to hear the 2nd side. So the title track (whole 1st side of the album) is totally absorbing whether as Ambient Background Music , or on headphones "UP LOUD".
Not a Pop album , more like a Vintage wine for connosieurs , and as superb today as it was 20 years ago , if not better.
Coming from Great Britain, and having to suffer the motorway network every working day, I believe that the concept of a musical peice which celebrates the motorway, albeit the German Autobahn, could be seen as ludicrous by some people. However, this would be wrong. I thought that 'Autobahn' was just another novelty German peice of music, until I heard it. When I actually went on the Autobahn myself, I discovered this track is to driving on the Autobahn and modern Germany, as the Beach Boys are to West Coast 1960s America!! Kraftwerk's classically trained Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider started a theme with this peice of music, clebrating everyday technology such as the aforementioned Autobahn, and subsequently explored the concept of radio and radioactivity, express trains, androids, and a computer dominated society, in their later albums. The track 'Autobahn' starts off with a person getting into a vehicle, starting it, and then driving away, sounding the (synthesised) horn. The music then starts to build uop, suggesting joining the motorway from the on ramp. A few bursts of the word 'autobahn' from a vocoder then tells the listener what the track is about. The music gains momentum, and eventually a singing voice anounces that 'we are driving on the motorway' in German, 'Wir fahren auf der Autobahn', and goes on to describe the road and its surroundings. The middle of the track suggests a break in the journey, standing on a flyover bridge over the Autobahn, with synthesised vehicles passing below, and sounding their horns, complete with Doppler effect! The track then restarts similar to the beginning, but then turns to the driver tuning in the pre PLL tuning radio of the vehicle, with various voices singing 'Wir fahren auf der Autobahn' at different levels. The track then goes into a lush, mutilayered synthesised instrumental with more proclaiming of driving on the Autobahn, where it ends, presumably on the off ramp. An absolutely superb twenty or so minutes of very well played analogue synths, coupled with an intially baffling concept, which is ultimately effective, although the rest of the tracks sound like 'fillers' and are out of keeping with the title track. A great synth album and period 70s peice, and one to play whilst on a deserted 'Autobahn' on a bright and early summer morning. Recommended without a doubt.
on 3 September 2005
The year was 1974 and a saturday afternoon. I went to see a friend of mine, and he told me that he had just brought a new album by a band called Kraftwerk. I had never heard off them, so he was keen to tell me that the band were German, and the title track was called Autobahn and was all about a car journey. Well, I thought he had banged his head. He told me, that I had to listen to it. So we went into his parents lounge, and listened to the whole album. I was 100% hooked and just had to own a copy, so 30 minuates later I had brought a copy.
Today the music would be I suppose classed as trance, and it would give some of the modern day music a run for it's money, back in the 70's it was light years in front of anything. Would I recommend it? ABSOLUTELY. I still have my vinyl copy and of course a copy on cd, I still listen to the album at least once a week. Every time I listen to the album the memories come flooding back and of course new ones are logged, and that Saturday afternoon all those years ago is not that far away. This album has been a very good friend to me for 30ish years, it's always been there. It sounds as good today as it did back in the 70's, quite simply one of the best albums in the history of music. I can't recommend this album enough, all I'll say is, if you like music it's a must album for any music collection.