Collectors Corner - 'Showroom Dummies'
'Collectors Corner - 'Showroom
Dummies' is a look at worlwide singles releases for one of Kraftwerk's
most well known tracks, by IC
If there is one song in particular that deserves to have given Kraftwerk a hit single (even if only for the amount of times it has been released!) then this is no doubt the song, being one of their most memorable, due partly to the humorous twist in the lyrics. EMI in Britain have certainly done their utmost to make it a hit, having released it as a single on no less than three separate occasions! It has also appeared on single format in various countries but, surprisingly, not in Germany...
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the British releases, we'll have a quick round up of the various edits that are on the go; the full-length version of the song appears on the first 12" release only. The 7" (which is available as a normal AND promo release, not promo-only as originally written in the printed version of this article) release from 1977 uses a 2' 43" edit of the song - which was also used on the 12" release from 1978. However, the 1982 7" and 12" releases both feature a slightly remixed edit of the song at 2' 37". This remix features extra electronic percussion, though it must be said that the difference is very subtle. Also, the 1982 version misses out the 'eins, zwei, drie, vier' count-in that all previous versions feature.
7" single, 1977
12" single, 1977
The first release on single format in the UK for 'Showroom Dummies' was in 1977 when it was issued as a limited edition 12", one of the new gimmicks of that era. 7" copies were also issued, though unlike the 12" these did not come with a picture sleeve. The original version of this article stated that the 7" was a promo-only release, but this is not so - it was a commercial release.
The picture sleeve for the 12" is light brown coloured with a selection of photo's of the band from the 'Trans-Europe Express' video, in dark brown, on both sides of the sleeve. The labels for both releases are the 'orange' coloured Capitol designs. The 12" contains the long versions of both songs. The 7" contains edited versions - both tracks edited to just over a third of their original length. The 12" release appears with regularity for sale in the pages of 'Record Collector' and other sources, so you should not have too much bother in finding a copy (and you shouldn't pay over the odds for it either); the 7" is more difficult to trace but is not a mega-rarity.
12" single, 1979 reissue
The second release of 'Showroom Dummies' appeared during the 'Man Machine' era, as the picture sleeve displays instantly. This time it was only issued on 12", there is no 7" equivalent and this time round the short edit was used and was accompanied on side one by 'Spacelab', which had earlier appeared on the 'B' side of the 'Robots' 7" single. (It is a different edit of 'Spacelab' that is used on this 12" though; it's actually shorter than the version from the 7" of 'The Robots'). Over on side two, 'Europe Endless' was present once again, the full length 9' 35" version, once more. As mentioned, the picture sleeve draws from the 'Man Machine' LP sleeve, featuring the large picture of the four band members heads, from the inner sleeve of that LP, on the front, with the corresponding picture used on the reverse.
The label design is unique, using a red background with silhouettes of the band members, similar to the LP label but different. Along with the earlier 12" these are the rarer issues though they are not too uncommon and regularly appear for sale in the pages of magazines such as 'Record Collector', so you shouldn't be forking out too much money for either of the original 12" singles.
This issue was available for a number of years, though laterly in a plain black sleeve rather than a picture cover.
7" single, 1982 reissue
12" single, 1982 reissue
When 'The Model' reached number 1 in the UK charts, back in February 1982, it was obvious that EMI would be keen to keep up the momentum of success for Kraftwerk, so 'Showroom Dummies' was chosen as the follow up. In the event, it did not provide the band with their second number one but it did reach the highest position of the three releases, a respectable number 25 and was in the chart at the same time as 'The Model', having been released late in February, a rare sight to see two Kraftwerk singles in the top 40 at the same time! Perhaps it was lucky that it was not so successful as EMI might have tried to do to Kraftwerk what Ariola-Hansa was in the process of doing at that time to the group Japan; re-releasing almost every previous single/potential-single album track that they could get away with.
As noted earlier, the 1982 version is slightly remixed - though not by much - there are additional electronic percussion beats here and there. The 'B' side includes a remix of 'Numbers' that speeds the song up a bit and tags on a bit of 'Computer World 2' as well; this remix has only ever been issued on this 7" and 12" - i.e. the UK only. On the 12" version, 'Pocket Calculator' is also added - the 4'55" Long Version / LP version.
The picture sleeve for the 1982 version is based on the 'Trans-Europe Express' LP sleeve, using the same basic picture as found on the front of the LP sleeve - though the colours are stronger. The reverse of the sleeve is white with black lettering and has small reproductions of the LP sleeves for both 'Computer World' and 'Trans-Europe Express'. The 12" sleeve has a mistake on the rear - it prints the wrong running order for side two of the single (it states that 'Numbers' is first followed by 'Pocket Calculator' - its the other way round). The labels use the same design as those used for the 'Pocket Calculator' and 'Computer Love'/'The Model' releases from 1981; yellow with black LCD type lettering.
Mispressed copies, featuring 'The Model' instead of 'Numbers' on side two of the 7" are very scarce and sought after; of course, they are difficult to find unless you either play the record or look at the matrix number stamped on the vinyl!
7" single, 1977
The French issue of 'Showroom Dummies' is a very nice item as the picture sleeve is superb - definitely one of the best picture covers on the go ... very stylish. It is the French language rendition of the song that is included on the 'A' side, which in addition features a different edit of the song as compared to the UK edits. The 'B' side features 'The Hall of Mirrors' - like the 'A' side, it too is edited for this single. The picture sleeve features the familiar J.Stara portrait of the band, in colour (from the 'Trans-Europe Express' LP sleeve) but ... the picture is 'reversed', so that it is Ralf at the left hand side and Wolfgang now on the right etc. The reverse of the sleeve is also very stylish; black with the same style of lettering/lines as used on the 'Trans-Europe Express' LP sleeve, as well as a picture of the band at Düsseldorf station, from the 'Trans-Europe Express' video. The label uses the standard 'circular' Capitol logo design of the time, though it is red and brown coloured this time. All in all, this is an excellent single release, well worth adding to your collection.
7" single, 1979
A reissue, from 1979, as part of a 'Music in Gold' series.
7" single, 1977
The Spanish issue features edits different to those used elsewhere, though not very skilful ones. The picture sleeve is very different to all others and very confusing as in very large lettering on the front it says 'Especial Discjockey'; but it does not appear to be a promo-only single! The picture on the front is that found on the front of the Spanish 'Trans-Europe Express' LP sleeve (i.e. the one on the back of the UK sleeve) and the title is printed as 'Los Maniquies' and it has a multi-coloured border around it. These unique qualities makes for a very collectable single to add to your collection. The labels are the standard orange coloured design of that period.
12" single, 1977
Like the UK, the 12" format was used for this single, obviously hoping to bolster sales with the latest gimmick. As well as 'Showroom Dummies', the French language rendition, 'Les Mannequins' is also present on this single.
This single does not have a picture sleeve - it has a Capitol 'Disco Single' cover instead - but does feature an interesting label design which has pictures from the promo video for 'Showroom Dummies'; side one features the four 'bald' mannequins; side two the same but in silhouette form. You may be wondering why, if the full length versions are included, the tracks appear to be shorter than the UK releases; it is because the US versions are slightly faster; hence the time difference.
12" single, 1978
A 12" DJ-only release, nowadays much in demand, despite the cringeworthy title and rather tacky 'disco' sleeve, also used on the earlier 12" release, detailed previously. Don't let the sleeve design for this or the previous 'Showroom Dummies' US 12" give you any strange ideas that the record is pressed in yellow vinyl; it ain't! The LP version of 'Showroom Dummies' is included as an example of Kraftwerk's 'disco best' (ho, ho). The demand for this 12" must be great as prices for this item can be quite excessive, especially for a single that does not feature either an interesting sleeve or label design, or even any otherwise unobtainable mixes of the songs included! The label design is a boring white with black text affair, especially compared to the label of the earlier US 12".
CD single, 1990
Released as part of the 'Capitol Gold Cuts' series of re-issues. Quite popular on import for a while, this was the first Kraftwerk CD single to appear, in 1990. Both 'Showroom Dummies' and 'Les Mannequins' are included, as per the original US 12" release. The packaging is very good, featuring a design based on the 'Trans-Europe Express' LP sleeve.
CD single, 1992
Released at the tail-end of 1992, this CD single (yes, it is a CD single, confirmed by Cleopatra records) features both the full length LP mix and 7" edit of the original 1978 recording of the song. It comes in a standard jewel-case type box (normally used for album-length CD releases in the UK), featuring the still of the 4 bald-headed mannequins, in silhouette, from the 'Showroom Dummies' promo video (also on the West German 'Das Model' single sleeves and UK 'Neon Lights' 12" sleeve), against a printed circuitboard background. The initial release came packaged inside a cardboard long-box, as was then the standard format in America, though don't worry if you don't have this - the box is just plain white, with a cut out hole through which the normal CD case is visible.
In the UK, this release tends to be quite expensive, considering that it is only a CD single. Similarly, the Capitol Gold Cuts CD E.P. can also be found at extortionate prices at the likes of HMV; £13.99? I ask you!!
Updated: 16 : 5 : 2010