Music on automatic


“Wir fahren fahren fahren auf der Autobahn…”

Autobahn was the fourth album by German electronic band Kraftwerk, released in 1974.

It was the first of their albums I bought, spurred on by the hit single of the same name. Little did I know that the three and a half minute single was a mere taster for the twenty two and a half minute full version on the album!

At the time my German language skills were not too bad, so I had the added pleasure of understanding most of the lyrics, if not the context.

This explanation, from Wikipedia, was unknown to me but worth sharing:

The title track is intended to capture the feeling of driving on the Autobahn: from travelling through the landscape, the high-speed concentration on the fast lane, to tuning the car radio and the monotony of a long trip. It describes the A 555 from Köln to Bonn—the first Autobahn ever. It was built under the mayor Konrad Adenauer in 1929 to 1932 without any intersections.

My memories around the album include BBC Radio One DJ Johnnie Walker playing the single – giving it his usual due reverence by keeping quiet while it was on –  and then telling his audience that we were not far away from having concerts that consisted of a band member coming out and pressing the ‘on’ button! I guess he wasn’t a fan.

Now, listening to it again, I think the music stands up quite well. It’s pleasant, bears listening to, and is entirely inoffensive. Maybe that’s its limitation. It is electronic music, but it doesn’t stretch any boundaries, or push the envelope in any way. Perhaps it did in 1974.

Regardless, it was good to hear it again.

[The musical journey of rediscovery through my record collection continues. Click on “Vinyl” in the Categories, or in the following links, to see previous entries.]