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The key release in the Kraftwerk "Catalogue" remasters series...
on 12 October 2009
...and not just because it's my favourite Kraftwerk LP. But largely because the previous CD transfers were absolutely rotten. A fact which seems to have escaped most people.
"Computer World" is the only Kraftwerk release, in my view, which DEMANDS a re-master. The only one for which my usually undiscerning ears - not normally concerned with such trivialities as mastering - would actually be able to detect any difference. Maybe this was Ralf und Florian's way of telling the world to buy vinyl? Or even tapes? "Computer World" is, after all, the ultimate ghetto blaster album. There's a raw element to the sound - a sound that emanated from the best studio deutschmarks could furnish at the time, and ironically, became the blueprint for the early bedroom techno EPs released later that same decade on Transmat and NuGroove. Sonically it's just better suited to analogue than digital.
Maybe the fact that not ALL the equipment Hutter/Schneider/Bartos/Flur used was as hi-tech or as expensive as you might've assumed, was what inspired the kids (this kid anyway) to test their Casio VL1s to the absolute limit. A humble Stylophone features prominently on "Pocket Calculator" and, possibly, maybe, allegedly, some sort of Texas Instruments speak 'n' spell-type thing on "Computerworld" and "Numbers".
So anyway, how does this new edition sound? Much better, though, not 100%. The solo on "Computer Love" still suffers from a little "wow and flutter", though nowhere near as badly previous editions, which I suspect is due to "limitations with the source material" (or whatever excuse it was manufacturers used to give for the underwhelming sound of some CDs). Other than that, the transition's been made from analogue to digital more or less satisfactorily this time around.
And what about the music? Well sure, we now live in a Computer World, so enough said on that score. But what I always found interesting is that the music is in places quite anti-computer. "Interpol and Deutsche Bank, FBI..." hardly a utopian dream is it? "By pressing down a special key it plays a little melody" - what the hell use is that on a calculator? Exactly. Then there's "Computer Love" which seems to be saying leave your computer alone and get out more. The album takes a bit of a different turn for the last two tracks which, although they don't have the acid house TB303 sound, have a very similar structure to later records such as Phuture's "Acid Tracks".
Without doubt this is the definitive edition of one of the most influential releases of the 20th century.