370. Kraftwerk - Trans-Europa Express (1977)
1. Europa Endlos
4. Trans Europa Express
5. Metall Auf Metall
7. Franz Schubert
8. Endlos Endlos
I am making a slight adjustment to the 1001 albums list by reviewing this album in its German version rather than in the English version. Kraftwerk are German after all and the songs were thought of in German and they sound better in German. Actually the robotic industrial sound of Kraftwerk's music works much better with the German language, and what you lose from not understanding the lyrics is highly repaid by the alien feeling that you get from it. The same will happen with Man-Machine when we get there.
This is a great album, if Autobahn was more abstract and instrumental Trans-Europa Express is much more accessible but in no way worse. There is an almost pop (as much as any Kraftwerk can be pop) feel to the first half of the album and in the second half there is a kind of suite taking a train journey as a theme, much like the Autobahn was the theme of that album.
The music is astonishing, it shouldn't work as well as it does, it could have sounded like Jean-Michel Jarre, but there is an hypnotic quality to this beyond the faculties of any other electronic performers. This albums transports you somewhere, I don't know where but it is weird and wonderful. Not many albums do this and therefore this is something to be treasured. This is Kraftwerk at their peak, but there are more Kraftwerk goodies to come on the list.
1. Trans Europa Express
3. Metall Auf Metall
The title track in particular was an impressive fusion of electronic percussion rhythms and very strong melody, tied together with a lyrical concept. (Tracing its development through live bootlegs, it appears to have ultimately derived from "Ruckzuck", which opened the original Kraftwerk album.) The concept behind this track harks back to 1974's Autobahn, which recreated a journey on the German motorway network: Trans-Europe Express was intended to evoke a trip on one of the TEE rail services that were operating at the time of its writing.
‘The culture of Mitteleuropa was cut off in the Thirties, and many of the intellectuals went to the USA or France, or they were eliminated. We [Kraftwerk] are picking it up again where it left off, continuing this culture of the Thirties, and we are doing it spiritually.’
— Ralf Hütter
Bill Bailey tribute: