Kraftwerk - The Man-Machine LP
Label: Kling Klang
The Man-Machine was originally released in 1978, a year after the artistic and commercial triumph of Trans-Europe Express. Obviously there was a lot to live up to following that album, and Kraftwerk had little difficulty doing so. The Man-Machine is likewise a genre-defining masterpiece, containing at least two of their most well known songs with "The Robots" and "The Model." It also features one of their strangely overlooked songs, the too-awesome-for-words "Spacelab". The cold, mechanical approach Kraftwerk had been striving for is perfected on this record, also expertly conveyed from a visual standpoint on the cover, where the group appears all angular and unsmiling in their matching red shirt/black tie getup. It's pretty crazy to imagine the reaction this must have received right in the middle of the punk explosion. As the rest of the world reveled in sloppy, wide-eyed rock n' roll, Kraftwerk became more precise and jettisoned the most recognizable traces of human emotion usually reserved for the pop market. Still, though the most noteworthy traits here bring to mind a glum, dystopian future, like on the title track and the ominous "Metropolis", there is also a good deal of humor and an implied human warmth, as Kraftwerk themselves, more than anything, take the role of detached observers in a world that defines itself more and more through technological progress.