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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 29 December 2003
Man Machine is one of those albums that must have sounded so alien in 1978 it's difficult to imagine it's impact 25 years on. Whereas Trans-Europe Express still gave a few concessions to 70's ethics, Man Machine is full on cold, hard synthesiser heaven with no room for those still hoping for a return to the sound-scapes of Autobahn. The next people to walk down this road would be John Foxx and Gary Numan but without this huge road-map to the new territory, I suspect their careers would have been delayed a few years more!
The full impact of the foresight of Kraftwerk is that 'The Model' wasn't a hit until being flipped onto a single released from the following album 'Computer World' a full 3 years later!
The cover of 'Man Machine' shows the members of the band looking East towards the Eastern Bloc. The record is a full on salute to the march of mechanisation, industrialisation and inter-action between man and machine(obviously!). It's one of the few masterpieces of electronic rock/pop with more melodies than an Abba record and more attitude and influence than Bowie at his best. It would take until after 'Computer World' was released (another superb record) for the rest of the music world to catch up.
A top recommendation!
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on 20 October 2009
This is of course one of the best ever electronic music albums, the father of not one but probably several genres of contemporary music, and as much of an "important classic" as something like Sergeant Pepper or Bob Marley Legend - possibly more so if you consider what we listen to nowadays (hip hop, R&B and other electronic sounds).

It's certainly the most influential electronic music album ever, I don't think that is open to question.

There's just no way any of us are going to resist buying/downloading this one. We know it, they know it. It's just inevitable. Aaargh!!!!

So far I'd say there is definitely more depth to the sound with these remasters. They still sound perfectly old skool but there's more power in this re-issue. Specifically the bass goes lower in "the robots", and the "snap" sound in Metropolis is... snappier!

It's not like the original CD issue was that bad or anything, but this is such a classic that even a small improvement in sound quality is nice to have.
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...like me!

THE RE-ISSUE: The campness of the original Man Machine cover (which IS retained for this edition) is toned down by a plainer outer cardboard slipcase (as pictured in the Amazon product info). There's a proper booklet with lots of previously unseen pictures. So many in fact, that I can't help wondering if these are authentic period photos or if Ralph and his new mates have lugged the old dummies out of the back of the Kling Klang cupboard, dusted them down and taken a few new snaps. No matter, it's entirely in keeping with the vibe of the album. As for the sound, well, for me there wasn't that much wrong with the existing CD release. It's fine, it certainly doesn't detract from the original but I don't know that it adds all that much either. Maybe a slight disappointment given that band members Fritz Hilpert and Henning Schmitz, who did the re-master, did such a sterling job with the last Kraftwerk LP Minimum - Maximum?

THE ALBUM: Which Kraftwerk album is the best is, I think, a matter of preference as they're all 5 stars. Personally I've always seen The Man Machine as a concept album based on a day in the life of a modern citizen:

The Robots - the morning: starting the day and bemoaning the drudgery of every day life.
Spacelab - the wonders of modern technology (whatever that was in the late 1970s) around the home.
Metropolis - going to the day job in the city.
The Model - the night-time: going out and getting the initial buzz that you feel when the night is still young.
Neon Lights - the night is at an end and you're on you're way home through urban desolation. Pre-dates Burial by about 30 years.
The Man Machine - the come-down: reprises the theme of "The Robots": lamenting the (at times) soullessness and repetitiveness of life. Back to work.

That's my take on it anyway.

THE BONUS TRACKS: There aren't any. Kraftwerk didn't really waste any of their material. No bad thing - this is, after all, the album as it was meant to be heard.

THE CONCLUSION: If you've never owned this LP then this is the edition to buy. If you already own it then it boils down to how big a fan you are. The new pictures are good - but it's just packaging. Or you could always wait for The Catalogue boxset containing all eight albums (and, I understand, large format booklets). This fan was too impatient.
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on 21 December 2000
If you want something decent to listen to this is it.
Faithless fans may have thought that the sun shone when they heard tracks like Drifting Away but this CD WAS RECORDED IN 1978 when a Pentium chip wasnt even in production or possibly not even on the drawing board at Intel.
Which makes this CD still refreshing.
The shuttle hadnt reached the lauch pad at Cape Canaveral yet Spacelab almost is as symbolic - its clockwork beat adds to the imagination.
The space age theme continues in Metropolis.
The Model was a hit for Kraftwerk and has been released as a single several times over the years. Its theme based around the windows of Hamburgs 'model' district.
Neon Lights was always one of my favourite tracks and centres around the Northern Lights experience - the orchestral work in this track is masterful
Which leaves Man Machine another clockwork theme backing track is brilliant and brings this cracking CD to a finale
Buy this CD its worth it and the fact that it is still is as refreshing as 23 years ago proves that it has stood the test of time.
How many modern acts will be able to bost this claim in twenty years time????.
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on 30 September 2007
Robots Spacelab Metropolis Model Neon Lights Man Machine

Some albums open up entire vistas, suggesting not only new approaches but new musical visions. While Trans-Europe Express outlined the general approach, The Man Machine is perhaps the ultimate expression of the synthesis of man and machine that underlay Kraftwerk's approach. The voice, which was so open and optimistic in "Europe Endless" in TEE is now processed and digitised from the off, in the opener "Robots". It's a remarkable song which feels that it had to be made by someone eventually. It's both cold and mechanistic, and oddly funky and touching - I love it when they say "We are programmed just to do / Anything you want us to".

Whereas previous Kraftwerk album had featured a smidgeon of authentic instrumentation, every sound on this album is digitised. There is a sterile, cold, dispassionate splendour to the sound. On "Spacelab" this works well in evoking the cold vacuum of space, while "Neon Lights" has a wonderful (undigitised) lyric celebrating the lights of the city, and has a coda pulsing with rhythms suggesting the richness of life in the urban environment. Kraftwerk's best known song "The Model" may seem out of character with the rest of the album, being a straightforward pop song (still in the digital style) with a wry lyric on fame and celebrity, but the apparent indifference and underlying humanity fits in in with the rest of the album.

The influence of this album on modern music cannot possibly be overestimated. Electronica, synth-pop, dance music, all took their genesis from Kraftwerk. But like The Beatles, not only were Kraftwerk the first to do what they did, they were the best at it. They are the Year 0 of electronic music and this album is their finest, most completely realised vision.
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on 8 October 2004
The first Kraftwerk album I listened to was Autobahn, which, while being very smooth and trancy, disapointed me slightly with its lack of beats. The next album I listened to was Trans Europe Express, which I thought used beats to the detriment of melody.
I'm very pleased to say that The Man Machine has more than enough of both to satisfy both the hardcore fan and the casual listener. In my opinion, one of the two best albums in Kraftwerk's ouvre, this gem contains classic tracks such as 'The Robots' and 'The Model.' The fact that 'The Model' was a hit in Britain three years after it was first released says something about the prophetic nature of Kraftwerk's music.
Only very rarely does a band make music so ahead of its time. Pink Floyd, in my opinion, is one such band. Radiohead is another. Kraftwerk is the grandaddy of them all.
Music for ears, like they say.
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on 5 October 2005
The sparse sounds of techno-pop created on this cd are a work of art few have matched. Neon Lights is about as good as pop music gets and tracks like Metropolis and Space Lab were copied and ripped off throughout the late seventies and early 80s shamefully by the more astute new romantic bands. Still today, Robots and The Model are as recognisable as any pop tune. But it is remarkable that in 1978, Kraftwerk were effectively providing a template for the next generation of music that still steals its ideas today. And the Man Machine is a perfect way to end this beautiful cd - understated yet making you want to go back to the start and listen again. I honestly never tire of this cd which I have owned since 1980.
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on 7 November 2009
Just a quick review for the many who probably got this back in 1978 (yes, really) and are wondering if it sounds as good. Well, it does. This is a great remaster and a real pleasure to hear again. The crystal clear electronica sounds both modern and pristine. Neon Lights remains one of the most fascinating evocations of night in the city. Play it loud, in the car as you go downtown at midnight. Just great.
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VINE VOICEon 10 December 2011
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.
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The Man Machine has to be, for me, Kraftwerk's crowning glory. A listen to this album twenty four years after its first release confirms that the 'electric quartet' from Dusseldorf were thinking years ahead of other groups when this album was conceived. Tracks such as 'Spacelab', and 'The Model' sound like they would not be out of place in a modern dance club, such is their musical brilliance. My favourite track has to be 'Neon Lights'. I first heard it late one night when I was at Hendon Police College, in my room overlooking north London at 'the fall of night', when the city really did look 'made of light'. Incredible. The cover is a masterpiece of high camp, which with the superb music, makes the album stand out amongst the other releases of 1978. Recommended without doubt!
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