Kraftwerk-aktivität in the '90s
The main events of the year were Kraftwerk's live tours in June and October.
In June, Kraftwerk embarked on a small-scale world tour, playing various venues in Japan and the USA, as well as one-off concerts in Spain and Denmark.
One of the US concerts had to be cancelled however - the date in Washington DC on the 14th of June as part of the 'Tibetan Freedom Festival' was subject to drastic rearrangement due to the severe weather which struck on the Saturday - Kraftwerk pulled out of their appearance altogether that was scheduled for the Sunday.
In terms of the actual shows, they were very similar to those from the tail-end of last year in Austria and Germany - the play list for the concerts being almost identical save for the fact that one of the new Kraftwerk tracks aired at the German and Austrian concerts last year was dropped and also witnessing a reinstated 'The Model'. Therefore the track listing for this tour consisted of the following;
As ever, some of the nights saw some 'technical difficulties', such as the second night in Tokyo where a breakdown during numbers prompted Kraftwerk to start afresh from their electronic voice intro once again. A publicity photo session involving the Kraftwerk robots also took place on the sidewalk outside the State Theatre in Detroit, as witnessed (and also photographed) by fans. Brief excerpts from the Roskilde Festival of Kraftwerk performing 'The Robots' have been aired on MTV while a complete airing of 'Tribal' and most of 'Music Non Stop' from one of the Tokyo concerts have been viewed on a recent Japanese Kraftwerk special on Japanese MTV, along with various promo clips. A brief excerpt of 'The Man Machine' has also been aired on Spanish TV. Amazingly, Ralf Hütter also spoke with the press and the first new interviews since 1993 were printed, though little if anything new was forthcoming.
Coinciding with the live dates in Japan, Toshiba EMI reissued some Kraftwerk CDs on May 27th;'Autobahn' (TOCP-50578), 'Radio-Activity' (TOCP-50579), 'Electric Café' (TOCP-50580), and 'The Mix' (TOCP-50581).
The UK music paper NME (issue dated 11th April) carried a news report which stated that Kraftwerk would play live in the UK at an electronic music festival taking place on London's South Bank to be titled 'Machines', on October 4 and 5 at the London Royal Festival Hall. The paper subsequently reported that the concerts would not in fact take place.
In October, Kraftwerk continued their live concert schedule for 1998 with a series of concerts in South America, primarily Argentina and Brazil.
Live activity in Australia for January of 1999 was also intended, but plans for these were later cancelled.
A live concert recording by the title of 'Concert Classics' (Ranchlife, CRANCH4, CD - also available on vinyl too) was released. Although it very much appears to be a bootleg, the fact that it is readily available and stocked in 'regular' stores in quantity suggests that it is somehow seemingly legitimate. It appears to be licenced from EMI records, though official clearance from Kraftwerk themselves seems unlikely - the quality of the packaging design and sleevenotes being shoddy at best and inaccurate while the stated track listing is also wrong.
A good quality, full stereo sound-board recording of a 1975-era concert is what 'Concert Classics' consists of. The packaging does not give details of the concert venue, though the recording originates from a concert in Dallas, 1975, according to a Japanese press release.
The correct track listing is; 'Kometenmelodie' 1 and 2 (11:49), 'Autobahn' (21:54), 'Kling Klang' (10:10) and 'Tanz Musik' (4:16). (On the sleeve packaging the track listing is instead given as 'Kometenmelodie', 'Autobahn', 'Morgenspaziergang 1' and 'Morgenspaziergang 2'.) Ralf Hütter can be heard introducing both 'Kling Klang' and 'Tanz Musik' which makes it yet more perplexing as to how the printed track listing is so inaccurate.
A vinyl pressing was also issued, with the same tracks but a different running order to that of the CD. A Japanese CD edition by the name of 'Autobahn Tour '75' (CRCL-4035) was also released in September.
A new biography on Kraftwerk was published in mid-September. Titled 'Kraftwerk: From Düsseldorf to the Future with Love', the author is Tim Barr, the current editor of 'Future Music' magazine. The boks publisher is Ebury Press.
The Danish TV station DR2 broadcast a Kraftwerk special earlier this year as part of their 'Okay Tone' series, featuring new interview material with both Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür reminiscing on their days with Kraftwerk. As well as showing some of the standard Kraftwerk promo videos (as well as material from Elektric Music (including a brief clip of a different version of the 'TV' promo from the two examples already viewed in the past) and Yamo) there was also the video for the new Kraftwerk song first aired at last year's 'Tribal Gathering' event (also to be found on the bands website). Additionally, some archive footage (supplied by Wolfgang Flür as seen originally in his Yamo electronic press kit) of Kraftwerk in New York from 1975 was also shown.
Further Bootleg CDs were also a feature of 1998; amongst them being...
'Dynamo Deutschland' - a double bootleg CD, culled from already existing Kraftwerk bootlegs. Tracklisting;
'Lauschangriff', a double live bootleg CD which features the 1991 Düsseldorf (Not Bristol as stated previously) concert plus some additional official tracks as follows; Radio-Activity (1976 Single Edit), Showroom Dummies (1977 Single Edit), Trans Europa Express (Single Edit), Tour de France (Remix Single Edit), Numbers (Remix, 1982), Musique Non Stop (12" Version), Der Telefon Anruf (7" Version), Tour de France (Instrumental), Kometenmelodie 2 (1975 Single Version), Autobahn (1981 Single Version), Kohoutek 1, Autobahn (1975 Single Version), Radioactivity (William Orbit 7" Remix), Robotronik (7" Version), The Telephone Call (7" Version) plus one unofficial mix; Die Roboter (Kinderspiel-Version).
'Computersinfonien', a double CD on the Tuff Bites label with the 1997 ZKM show plus four additional DJ remix tracks - the sound quality of the ZKM portion is good though the very start is absent, the same source as used on the previous 'Return of the Mensch Maschine' bootleg from the start of this year. 'Techno'on the T-REX label (TRCD 065/66) also features the ZKM concert, as does the 'Lichgestalten' release.
'Dentaku World' is a new repackage of the 7/9/81 Tokyo, Japan concert recording.
Akasaka Blitz, a live recording from Kraftwerk's 1998 Tokyo concerts.
'Vor uns Metropolis' - a double-CD bootleg, includes the first three Kraftwerk studio albums, 'Kraftwerk', 'Kraftwerk 2' and 'Ralf and Florian'. Additionally it also includes the 'Concert Classics' live recording and additionally the track 'Rückstoss Gondoliero' (from the 1971 'Beat Club' TV appearance), though it is titled 'Interzone' on the sleeve packaging. Similarly, the titles listed for the live recordings from 'Concerts Classics' are also muddled. Label and cat. no. details: Elektrik Cro-Magnon/Jugendstil-Tontraeger, ECM/JS 980102-2.
'Arbeiten/Works/Oeuvres', issued late in 1998 contains a mixture of mainly studio tracks, even from the pre-Kraftwerk 'Organisation', many of which display obvious traces of having been mastered from vinyl copies of the relevant Kraftwerk LPs. The set also contains the track that Kraftwerk performed on the 1971 'Beat Club' television appearance once again. Claiming to be on Capitol records, it bears a catalogue number of CDP 24-43742-1/2. Tracklisting is;
Further Kraftwerk cover version 'tribute' compilations are released; Basskraft: A Tribute To Kraftwerk (Track Listing; Trans-Europe Express, The Robots, Computer World, Pocket Calculator, Numbers, Computer Love, Home Computer, It's More Fun To Compute, The Beat, A Digital World, Musique Non-Stop, Tour De France, Autobahn), released in early August. 'Music Non Stop' is a CD compilation of Japanese origin and once again features numerous acts with their own unique takes on Kraftwerk material. "Tribute to Kraftwerk" by Marc et Claude is another tribute release, available on CD single and 12" formats.
Early June saw the release on SPV in Germany of the an 'Electric Music' album (SPV CD 085-61932), by Electric Music, aka Karl Bartos. A single from the album, 'Call on Me', was also released, while 'Sunshine' was also issued in promo form eventually.
The album is notable for a very different sound from Elektric Music and 1993's 'Esperanto', with a heavy reliance on guitars, which makes for an overall sound not a million miles away from New Order and Electronic. To help promote the album, Bartos appeared at various WOM record stores in Germany for autograph sessions.
Karl Bartos also recorded his own version of Kraftwerk's 'Tour de France' on a compilation called 'Tour de France - 21 Racing Tracks', a various artists CD which features the new version (named 'Tour De France 98') by Karl Bartos. Issued by Warners in Germany.
Karl Bartos was also involved with an act called Superior, who issued various releases through 1998
The June issue of the UK music magazine 'Future Music' contained an interview with Wolfgang Flür in which he talked extensively of his time with Kraftwerk. The accompanying free CD also comes complete with samples from the Yamo song 'Mosquito' with the open invitation for readers and fans to sample these snippets and remix the song into a new format. The interview itself reveals that Wolfgang has a working title of 'Serenity Supreme' for the next album by Yamo.
The four winners of the remix competition were presented on the CD that accompanies the November issue of the magazine (issued in October). A three page article where Wolfgang makes comments about each mix was also present in the magazine.
The US label Cleopatra issued a various artists 'Homage To NEU!' CD. Amongst the various artists is Michael Rother himself with a new piece, 'Neutronics 98'. Other acts appearing are Download, LPD, Dead Voices on Air, System 7, James Plotkin, Jeff Greinke. The CD was released at the start of June. Michael Rother has himself been the subject of a Cleopatra release, a compilation of his work titled 'Chronicles 1'.
Activities from Klaus Dinger have previously been documented in the Aktivität Update sheets which has always been of an unofficial nature. Information on the activities of Klaus Dinger can be accessed directly from the WWW pages at http://www.tp1.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/people/gawlista/mucke/dinger.html This website provides as near to official information as you get on the activities of Klaus Dinger and is recommended as the first stop for information from the original source.
Further details on activities through 1998 can be found in an expanded form in the Update pages for September 1998 - January 1999 and April-August 1998.
Updated: 16 : 5 : 2010