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Review: 'Kraftwerk: From Düsseldorf to the Future (With Love)'

'Kraftwerk: From Düsseldorf to the Future (With Love)'
(Ebury Press, ISBN 0-09-186490-9)

Book cover design for the new Kraftwerk biography

'Kraftwerk: From Düsseldorf To The Future (With Love)' is the title of a biography on Kraftwerk by UK music journalist Tim Barr published in September 1998. The introductory section dwells upon Kraftwerk's significance within the wider scope of the pop music history of the last half-century or so. In general, the book does lean towards the significance of Kraftwerk's influence upon dance music culture in particular, primarily the American hip-hop, electro and techno movements. This is certainly more robustly covered than in Pascal Bussy's tome, 'Man, Machine and Music', though as Barr is currently the editor of 'Future Music' magazine and has written extensively on the dance music genre in general, it should be no surprise perhaps.

The book also deals with the band's appearance at 1997's 'Tribal Gathering' event in some detail, placing into perspective the length of time (a matter of years) that the events promoters had attempted to persuade Kraftwerk to partake in a live appearance.

As has been pointed out in reviews in the music press (principally in 'The Wire' and 'Mojo' magazines) Barr has had no access to Hütter or Schneider themselves, so there is no new material from either source. There is new interview material from Wolfgang Flür (much already printed in a 'Future Music' article (issue 70, June 1998) previously). There is certainly an extensive recollection from Flür of Kraftwerk's stay in India during 1981 for their concerts in Bombay that is an entertaining insight into the dubious success of that particular venture. Interview material with Karl Bartos is also present, which appeared earlier in 1998 in the extensive 'Sound On Sound' interview.

In a similar fashion to Bussy's 'Man, Machine and Music' book, there is a small selection of black and white photographs included as plates within the centre of the book. A number of these were published in colour in the issue of 'Future Music' referred to previously. Yet more are unreleased. It's a nice little selection actually. Flür is pictured outside the entrance of the Kraftwerk communal home from the early 70s-1981 at 9 Bergerallee, Düsseldorf. Significantly, a number of the previously unpublished photos are from Wolfgang Flür's own private collection, including one of himself, Hütter and Schneider and their (then) US manager Ira Blacker (of Mr. I Mouse Management) pictured in jovial circumstances while dining at a New York restaurant, early 1975.

There are also portions that were originally featured in Aktivität fanzine, principally the transcript of a 1991 interview with Ralf Hütter originally printed in KLEM magazine.

As noted in the previous reviews, there is no access to Kraftwerk themselves so hard and fast information on what exactly lies ahead is absent, save for guesswork. Some quite amusing anecdotes provided by those who have come within the orbit of Hütter and Schneider does make up some of this absence however.

Author: IC

  Updated: 16 : 5 : 2010