Kraftwerk - Radio-Activity LP
Label: Kling Klang
1975's Radio-Activity is the first album where Kraftwerk became Kraftwerk as history knows them. It introduced their classic lineup and did away all acoustic instrumentation (believe it or not, there were actually some guitars on Autobahn), and is the perfect precursor to Trans Europe Express, arguably their finest moment. Like all Kraftwerk albums, this one is highly conceptual, with a dual emphasis on radio-activity from a scientific standpoint and the emergence of the new(ish) culture based around the radio. Even with its moments of darkness, Radio-Activity may also be one of Kraftwerk's most "fun" albums, with the joyful pop propulsion of "Airwaves" and the playful minimalism of "Antenna". Then there is the title track, a masterpiece of slowly brooding German melancholy if there ever was one. This is the album where the band truly found themselves able to consolidate their more experimental tendencies into a solidly pop format, resulting in truly imaginative and original music. It's strange that as the group became more poppy, they also became weirder and developed a sound that was pretty much unprecedented. But hey, that's how Kraftwerk does things.