Vertigo VEL 2003
Released: February 1975
Chart Peak: #5
Weeks Charted: 22
Not to take anything away from Ralf, Florian, Klaus or even Wolfgang -- who are probably real nice geezers once you get to know them -- but dis ist nicht so gut as Walter Carlos, who hasn't been in the Top Ten in months and months. By the same token, of course, Bachman-Turner Overdrive is no better than 4000 bar bands attempting to induce people to dance to "I Got the Music in Me" in 4000 bars across the length and breadth of these United States even as we speak. Crazy how the world works, ain't it?
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- John Mendelsohn, Rolling Stone, 6/19/75.
Successful German rock band show up with initial release here and provide a fascinating mix of guitars, percussion, strings and electronics, the last of which has placed them near the nadir of the German electronic trend. Lots of musical changes, with the lyrics taking a back seat in many cases. The lyrics do provide a buffer, however, and the tendency is to get caught up enough with the music so that they become secondary. (There is English translation on the jacket.) All of side one is devoted to the Autobahn, Germany's super highway. Side two is broken into four electronic extravaganzas. One of the few LPs of this type that does not seem gimmicky or contrived, and possibly the most commercial set yet for a genre that has built a substantial following here through imported disks. Best cuts: "Autobahn," "Comet Melody 2," "Comet Melody 3."
- Billboard, 1975.
Kraftwerk have become one of the most important new acts to be released so far this year. It's simple electronic music, totally in control, unemotional and detached. It's the kind of music you can put on in the background and forget about. I would imagine it would be an excellent cure for insomnia, as it sends you off into a lovely dreaming trance.
I have been informed that the band's earlier albums are not nearly as controlled as this one, so don't rush out and buy the imports until you've heard them first. The two young men who are the backbone of Kraftwerk have expanded to a four man unit, currently in the midst of their first American tour. I imagine that if Kraftwerk are as good onstage as they are on record, Pink Floyd are going to be in for some stiff competition. This isn't the kind of album that I can listen to all the time, but I certainly have to admire it.
- Janis Schact, Circus, 6/75.
The Iron Butterfly of uberrock -- Mike Oldfield for unmitigated simpletons, sort of, and yet in my mitigated way I don't entirely disapprove. A melody or two worth hearing twice emanates from a machine determined to rule all music with a steel hand and some mylar, and the title track is longer than "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" sans drum solo, with a lyric (trot provided) that should become the "What's Life? A magazine" of high school German classes all over America. B-
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
A cold, hypnotic album, the title song of which was an unlikely hit. * * * * *
- Dan Heilman , The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Though it is their fourth album, Autobahn is widely considered to be the true beginning of Kraftwerk. Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider had met in 1968 and formed Kraftwerk and their experimental electronic Kling Klang Studio in early 1970.
After years of playing the university, club, and art gallery circuit, where they developed their music, Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider composed and recorded the symphonic synthesizer title track "Autobahn" together with poet and painter Emil Schuit. Inspired by the long road journeys on the German motorway system, the title track marked the band's definitive separation from their "Krautrock" peers.
On Autobahn, joined by new percussionists Wolfgang Flür and Karl Bartos, Hütter and Schneider crystallized the pristine sound of deadpan four-man image that would define Kraftwerk. The album contains sublime pieces of wordless and ambient "Electronic-Volks-Musik" in the tracks "Mittermacht," "Morgenspaziergang," and Kometenmelodie," but it was the symphonic thitle track that became symbolic of the international breakthrough of Kraftwerk.
A chart success on both sides of the Atlantic, the album became a landmark of avante-garde pop miniminalism. As Ralf Hütter commented in 2003: "In Autobahn we put car sounds, horn, basic melodies and tuning motors. Adjusting the suspension and tyre pressure, rolling on the asphalt, that gliding sound when the wheels go onto those pained stripes. It's sound poetry, and very dynamic."
Autobahn is cinema for the ears.
- Stephen Dalton, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005.
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