Exhaustive Kraftwerk box set en route
Dunno. We appreciate the masters and the godfathers as much as the next blog. But know what we really, really appreciate? Getting your work right the first time.
Here's the drill-- Kraftwerk is releasing an 8 disc box set, which consists of their albums Autobahn, Radio-Activity, Trans-Europe Express, Man Machine, Computer World, Techno Pop, The Mix, and Tour de France-- all of them personally remastered by the band. You know-- because they really half-assed the mastering on the first go-round (?).
Kraftwerk performing "Radioactivity" live.
We're happy as hell to hear that, at last, one of those most influential pop bands of the 20th century is finally being comprehensively compiled, and on their own terms (the albums will be available on CD, download, or vinyl, complete with augmented artwork).
But is there anyone out there willing to buy an eight disc set that doesn't already have those albums? And furthermore, is anyone out there really outraged by the mastering job those albums got at the time of their release? Sure, technology has come a long way. But shouldn't an electronic album made in 1974, y'know, sound like it was made in 1974? Isn't that part of its charm, and its value?
Every so often, there is such a thing as a deserved re-master. The Paul's Boutique remaster gave new pop to a classic album created at a technological and creative watershed point for its genre.
But more often, the term "remaster" is crude slang for "contractually obligated release," or, even worse, "slam-dunk cash-in on completists and novice fans." Especially with Kraftwerk's music, it's hard to imagine a meaningful remaster giving new life to all those synthetic sine waves.
But then, what do we know? It's probably just our hubris that leads us to view this release from personal heroes Kraftwerk with one eyebrow raised. They're the inventors of their genre, and, to a large degree, the technology they used to create it. Who are we to second guess them if they feel there's still a few knobs to be twisted on Autobahn? We'll just remind ourselves that, in this turf, they're the 500 pound hippos. We're just the birds that roost on their backs.