An electro kid who hasn’t listened to Kraftwerk is like a guitarist unfamiliar with Hendrix. Or a porn star who doesn’t know who John Holmes is. Point is, you’ve gotta know your roots.
And these quirky German synth dudes—like a mix of Devo and the band in Revenge of the Nerds—were true pioneers, using primitive electronic gear to craft bleeps and blips, funky beats, and vocal snippets into songs that have influenced the likes of Jay-Z, Duran Duran, Coldplay, and Radiohead. It was their unique sound that helped Afrika Bambaataa launch American hip-hop when he famously sampled Kraftwerk’s classic “Trans Europe Express” for “Planet Rock.” The remastered version is a reminder of the original song’s undeniable allure. And much like Hendrix created some of rock’s greatest riffs, the main keyboard line in “Trans Europe Express” stands today as one of the best in the history of electronic music. From “The Man Machine” to 1981’s “Computer World” to the video game bounce of “Techno Pop” and “The Robots,” this comp should be a staple in any self-respecting minimalist or breaks DJ’s record bag. But more than that, these remasters serve as an analog and digital reminder that the group was light years ahead of its time. Dave Wedge File under: Brian Eno, New Order, Tangerine Dream
I'm a journalist who's covered news, mayhem, hacks, gender-bending killers, rock stars and tragedy, among other things, for the Boston Herald since 1999. I also write for DigBoston.com, SocietePerrier.com, Esquire.com and Lambgoat.com and have been a contributor to Revolver and Boston magazine. My first book, called "Boston Strong" (with co-author Casey Sherman), will tell the incredible stories of heroism and survival at the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. It will be out in fall 2014.