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Review: Kraftwerk - 'Concert Classics'

Kraftwerk - 'Concert Classics'
(Ranch Life, CRANCH4)

1998 saw the release of 'Concert Classics' (Ranchlife, CRANCH4, CD - also available on vinyl too). Quite a curiosity - looks like a bootleg, but seemingly legitimate - how else could it be stocked in 'regular' stores such as HMV, Virgin, Tower, etc in such quantities? It appears to be licenced from EMI records, though it surely has no official clearance from Kraftwerk themselves - the quality of the packaging design and sleevenotes is shoddy at best and inaccurate while the track listing is also wrong. In a similar 'no mans land' to the Germanofon releases of the first three Kraftwerk albums perhaps - though those are clearly bootlegs, mastered from vinyl copies of the LPs.

Enough of the politics, what of the music? Well, this release is well worth getting hold of. 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 for the Japanese version of this release (re-titled 'Autobahn Tour '75' and in a different, much improved, sleeve design).

The correct track listing is in fact thus;

  • 'Kometenmelodie' 1 and 2
  • 'Autobahn'
  • 'Kling Klang'
  • 'Tanz Musik'

As Ralf Hütter can be heard introducing both 'Kling Klang' and 'Tanz Musik' it's perplexing as to how the track listing can be so inaccurate. (There are also quite a few pieces of dialogue in German that can be heard, particularly when a part when one of the electronic percussion devices breaks down - these all add a certain interesting charm to the recording.) Being a live recording it is inevitably a bit rough in places, even though it's clearly from a mixing desk recording. The stereo mix gives a clear picture of the instrumentation - and the unmistakable sound of vibes reveals the presence of Karl Bartos (the sleeve packaging wrongly states Klaus Roeder on guitar and violin).

As for the performances themselves, 'Kometenmelodie (Part 1)' features the taped extract from 'Faust' (as discussed in the 'Live Tapes - The Autobahn Era' article from Aktivität 7) as well as the eerie choral sounds (courtesy of the Vako Orchestron instrument) first introduced on the 'Radio-Activity' album too. 'Autobahn' also sees elements of these sounds used too. 'Kling Klang' bears only its title in common with that track from the 'Kraftwerk 2' album - this performance is in fact a unique piece of music that Kraftwerk featured in their 1974-1975 live set. Worth tracking down this CD for this one track alone really, apart from live bootleg tapes you won't find it anywhere else. The final track, which is faded out thereby editing it slightly, is a rather laid-back version of 'Tanz Musik'. The vibes, heard on most of the material on this CD really make their presence felt on this track.

As a historical snapshot of Kraftwerk circa 1975 this CD is invaluable; even at this late point (remember, this is post-'Autobahn') the Kraftwerk live instrumentation is predominantly some synths, electric piano, organ, vibes, flute and electronic percussion. Coupled with the fact that this CD seems to be selling in the 6.99-9.99 budget price range, it is well worth picking up if you have an inkling for the less synthesized/sequenced, more free-form feel of early Kraftwerk. Of note, the vinyl pressing has a different running order to that of the CD, with 'Autobahn' on one side and the other three tracks on the other. Also, a Japanese CD edition by the name of 'Autobahn Tour '75' (CRCL-4035) is due for release in September 1998.

Tracklisting as listed on CD packaging; Kometenmelodie (11.49), Autobahn (21.54), Morgenspaziergang (Part 1) (10.10), Morgenspaziergang (Part 2) (4.16)

Correct tracklisting; Kometenmelodie (Parts 1 and 2) (11.49), Autobahn (21.54), Kling Klang (10.10), Tanz Muzik (4.16)

Author: IC

  Updated: 16 : 5 : 2010