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This review is from: The Man Machine (Audio CD)
Hm. German efficiency: not a beat out of place or a speck of dust on any note. 'Man Machine', like most of Kraftwerk's albums, is truly remarkable. Some laudable electronic music is contained within the flood of synthpop that emerged in the early 1980s, but none of it had this finesse. It's interesting to read reviews that claim we were all aware of this back then, however, as this was no more true than the notion that 'Imagine' was the nation's favourite song before John Lennon died. Moreover, it's unfair to imply that Kraftwerk were the most important pioneers of electronic music. They were actually one of the last of the seminal German artists to make a breakthrough. Cluster, Neu! and early Tangerine Dream were all ahead of them and 'Man Machine' is rather like a more saleable version of Cluster's 'Sowiesoso' which was released a year earlier.
What Kraftwerk did that the others didn't, however, was weld their ideas to a more commercial muse. It's a bit like The Beatles: some people claim that other artists were ahead of the Fab Four, but whether this is true or not, they didn't have the attention of the world, which The Beatles did. Something similar happened with Kraftwerk. They not only innovated, they had hits. They also had a stronger image, that aloof, non-judgemental aura which permeates their recordings.
Of all their albums, 'Man Machine' is the most accessible. Not only does it contain the belated number one hit, 'The Model', but also infectious hooks and rhythms on 'The Robots', 'Spacelab' and 'Metropolis'. 'Neon Lights' is rather different, relying on depth and texture for its beauty. This track is the one that resembles what Cluster were doing the most. Whether 'Man Machine' is Kraftwerk's best will always be debatable. 'Trans Europe Express' possibly beats it. Possibly. 'Man Machine' is, however, probably the best place to start listening to this great band.