|Genres||Electronic, Synthpop, Krautrock/Experimental music (early works)|
|Labels||Kling Klang, EMI, Mute, Astralwerks, Cleopatra, Elektra, Warner Bros., Parlophone, Golden Cloud, Capitol Records, Mercury, Fontana, Vertigo, Philip|
|Former members||Florian Schneider|
Kraftwerk ("power plant" or "power station", German pronunciation: [ˈkʁaftvɛɐk) is a pioneering and a highly influential electronic music band from Düsseldorf, Germany. The signature Kraftwerk sound combines driving, repetitive rhythms with catchy melodies, mainly following a Western classical style of harmony, with a minimalistic and strictly electronic instrumentation. The group's simplified lyrics are at times sung through a vocoder or generated by computer-speech software. Kraftwerk were one of the first groups to popularize electronic music. In the early to late 1970s and the early 1980s, Kraftwerk's distinctive sound was revolutionary, and it has had a lasting effect across many genres of modern music.
- 1 Biography
- 2 The Catalogue
- 3 Proposed Second Boxed Set
- 4 Band members
- 5 Music
- 6 Live shows
- 7 Seclusion
- 8 Influence on other musicians
- 9 Discography
Kraftwerk were formed in 1970 by Florian Schneider (flutes, synthesisers, electro-violin) and Ralf Hütter (electronic organ, synthesisers). The two had met as students at the Düsseldorf Conservatory in the late 1960s, participating in the German experimental music scene of the time, which the British music press dubbed "Krautrock".
The duo had originally performed together in a quintet known as Organisation. This ensemble released one album, titled Tone Float (issued on RCA Records in the UK) but the group split shortly thereafter.
Early Kraftwerk line-ups from 1970–1974 fluctuated, as Hütter and Schneider worked with around a half-dozen other musicians over the course of recording three albums and sporadic live appearances; most notably guitarist Michael Rother and drummer Klaus Dinger, who left to form Neu!.
The input, expertise, and influence of producer and engineer Konrad "Conny" Plank was highly significant in the early years of Kraftwerk and Plank also worked with many of the other leading German electronic acts of the period, including members of Can, Neu!, Cluster and Harmonia. As a result of his work with Kraftwerk, Plank's studio near Cologne became one of the most sought-after studios in the late 1970s. Plank co-produced the first four Kraftwerk albums.
The release of Autobahn in 1974 saw the band moving away from the sound of their earlier albums. They invested in newer technology such as the Minimoog, helping give them a newer, disciplined sound. Autobahn would also be the last album that Conny Plank would engineer. After the commercial success of Autobahn, the band invested money into updating their studio. This meant they no longer had to rely on outside producers. At this time the painter and graphic artist Emil Schult became a regular collaborator with the band, working alongside the band. Schult designed artwork in addition to later co-writing lyrics and accompanying the group on tour.
The now regarded classic line-up of Kraftwerk was formed in 1975 for the Autobahn tour. During this time, the band were presented as a quartet, with Hütter and Schneider joined by Wolfgang Flür and Karl Bartos, hired as electronic percussionists.This quartet would be the band's public persona for its renowned output of the latter 1970s and early 1980s. Flür had already joined the band in 1973, in preparation for a television appearance to promote Kraftwerk's third album.
After the 1975 Autobahn tour, Kraftwerk began work on a follow up album, Radio-Activity (German title: Radio-Aktivität). After further investment of new equipment, their Kling Klang Studio was now a fully working recording studio. It was decided that the new album would have a central theme. This theme came from their interest in radio communication, which had become enhanced on their last tour of the United States. While Emil Schult began working on artwork and lyrics for the new album, the band began to work on the music. Radio-Activity didn't live up to its predecessor and was less successful in the UK and American markets, but it did open up the European market for the band, gaining them a gold disc in France. Kraftwerk produced some promotional videos and performed several European live dates to promote the album. With the release of Autobahn and Radio-Activity, Kraftwerk had left behind their avant-garde experimentations and had moved forward toward electronic pop tunes.
In 1976 Kraftwerk began recording Trans-Europe Express (German: Trans-Europa Express) at Kling Klang Studio Hütter and Schneider had commissioned Bonn-based "Synthesizerstudio Bonn, Matten & Wiechers" to design and build the Synthanorma Sequenzer with Intervallomat, a 4x8 / 2x16 / 1x32 step-sequencer system with features which were not available from commercial products. The music sequencer controlled the band’s electronic sources creating the albums rhythmic sound. Trans-Europe Express was mixed at the Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles and found the location to have a stimulating atmosphere. It was around this time that Hütter and Schneider met David Bowie at Kling Klang Studio. A collaboration was mentioned in an interview with Hütter, but never materialised. Kraftwerk had previously been offered a support slot on Bowie's Station to Station tour, but they turned it down.The release of Trans-Europe Express was marked with an extravagant train journey used as a press conference by EMI France. The album was released in 1977.
In May 1978 Kraftwerk released The Man-Machine (German: Die Mensch Maschine). The album was recorded at Kling Klang. During the recording of the album the band would sit behind the mixing console and let the sequencers and studio equipment play melodies. Florian Schneider would then stand up and move toward a sequencer and launch another musical sequence. This was Kraftwerk's style of "jamming". This process would be repeated until the tracks were built up into songs. Due to the complexity of the recording the album was mixed at Studio Rudas in Düsseldorf. Two mixing engineers from L.A., Joschko Rudas and Leanard Jackson, were employed to mix the album. The cover to the new album was produced in black, white and red, the artwork was inspired by Russian artist El Lissitzky. The image of the band on the front cover was photographed by Gunther Frohling. This showed the band dressed in red shirts and black ties. Following the release of The Man-Machine Kraftwerk would not release an album for another three years.
In May 1981 Kraftwerk released the album Computer World (German: Computer Welt) on EMI records. The album was recorded at Kling Klang Studio between 1978 and 1981.A lot of this time was spent modifying the Kling Klang Studio so the band could take it on tour with them. Some of the electronic vocals on Computer World were created using a Texas Instruments Language Translator "Computer Love" was released as a single from the album backed with the earlier Kraftwerk track "The Model" Radio DJs were more interested in the B-side so the single was repackaged by EMI and re-released with "The Model" as the a-side. The single reached the number one position in the UK making "The Model" Kraftwerk's most successful record in the UK.
In 1983 EMI released the single "Tour de France". The original 12” release was delayed by the record company until they had further news of a new album. In the end EMI released the 12” with no news of a new album. It was at this time that the band took up cycling Ralf Hütter had been looking for a new form of exercise. "Tour de France" included sounds that followed this theme including bicycle chains, gear mechanisms and the breathing of the cyclist. At the time of the single's release Ralf Hütter tried to persuade the rest of the band that they should record a whole album based around cycling. The other members of the band were not convinced, and the theme was left to the single alone. The most familiar version of the song was recorded using French vocals. These vocals were recorded on the Kling Klang Studio stairs to create the right atmosphere.
During the recording of "Tour de France" Ralf Hütter was involved in a serious cycling accident. He suffered serious head injuries and was left in a coma for a few days. "Tour de France" was featured in the 1984 film Breakin' showing the influence that Kraftwerk had on black American dance music. Following his recovery Hütter threw himself back into his obsession with cycling.
During 1983 Wolfgang Flür was beginning to spend less time in the studio. Since the band began using sequencers his role as a drummer was becoming less frequent. He preferred to spend his time travelling with his girlfriend. Flür was also experiencing artistic difficulties with the band. After his final work on the 1986 album Electric Café he hardly returned to the Kling Klang Studio.
During the early nineties Kraftwerk's line up changed several times. In 1990 Fritz Hilpert replaced Wolfgang Flür on electronic percussion and sound effects, and in early 1991 Fernando Abrantes replaced Karl Bartos on electronic percussion and sound effects. Later in 1991 Abrantes was again replaced by a more permanent member, Henning Schmitz. In 1990, after years of withdrawal from live performance, Kraftwerk began to tour Europe again regularly, including a famous appearance at the 1997 dance festival Tribal Gathering held in England. During the 1998 tour Kraftwerk appeared in the United States and Japan.
In July 1999 the single "Tour de France" was reissued in Europe by EMI after it had been out of print for several years. It was released for the first time on CD in addition to a repressing of the twelve inch vinyl single. Both versions feature slightly altered artwork that removed the faces of Flür and Bartos from the four man cycling paceline depicted on the original cover.
The single "Expo 2000" was released in December 1999.
The track was remixed and re-released as "Expo Remix" in November 2000.
In 1999 ex-member Flür published his autobiography in Germany, Ich war ein Roboter. Later English-language editions of the book were titled Kraftwerk: I Was a Robot.
In August 2003 the band released Tour de France Soundtracks, its first album of new material since 1986's Electric Café.Even before the releasing the album, the band started in 2002 the extensive Minimum-Maximum tour. In June 2005 the band's first-ever official live album, Minimum-Maximum, which was compiled from the shows during the band's tour of spring 2004, received extremely positive reviews. The album contained reworked tracks from existing studio albums. This included a track titled Planet Of Visions that was a reworking of "Expo 2000". The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Electronic/Dance Album. Ralf Hütter regretted the fact that they couldn't include some recordings from their concert in Santiago de Chile, because he said that Chileans "were the only audience in the world who clap in time, in perfect synchronisation".
April 2008 saw the band back on tour in the United States leading up to its previously announced show at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Kraftwerk won a lawsuit in Germany's high court on November 20, 2008 determining whether artists should have the right to sample other bands' music without infringing on copyright. Kraftwerk sued rap producer Moses Pelham for sampling two seconds of their 1977 song "Metal On Metal" in the track "Nur Mir" by Sabrina Setlur.
On November 22, 2008 Kraftwerk were scheduled to headline the Global Gathering Festival in Melbourne Australia but had to cancel at the last minute due to a heart problem of Fritz Hilpert.
In March 2009, after one of their shows with Radiohead in Santiago de Chile, Ralf Hütter announced that Kraftwerk expected to release a new album at the end of the year. Later on, he confirmed that information to some newspapers in Austria and Romania. In an interview with the Guardian newspaper from the UK, Hütter cleared the confusion to some extent by stating he expects The Catalogue to be released in September this year and for new material to be on its way "soon".
The band were one of the headliners of Bestival on the Isle of Wight, UK on September 11–13, 2009.
In 2004, a promotional box set entitled 12345678 (subtitled The Catalogue) was issued, with plans for a proper commercial release to follow. The box featured remastered editions of the group's core eight studio albums, from Autobahn to Tour de France Soundtracks. For reasons unknown, the item's proper release was put on hold indefinitely.
Kraftwerk finally released newly remastered versions of these eight albums in October of 2009. Due to licensing issues, three of these albums--Computer World, Electric Cafe (now re-christened with its original working title of Techno Pop) and The Mix--are available only as part of the boxed set in the U.S.
The Techno Pop album contains a slightly revised track listing from its predecessor Electric Cafe: the song "The Telephone Call" now appears in its much shorter single mix, and that single's b-side remix, "House Phone," has been added as a proper album track.
The Catalogue box set was released on November 16, 2009. It is a 12 inch by 12 inch box set containing all eight remastered CDs in cardboard slipcases, as well as LP-sized booklets of photographs and artwork for each individual album.
Proposed Second Boxed Set
Although not officially confirmed, Kraftwerk have suggested that a second boxed set of their first three experimental albums--Kraftwerk, Kraftwerk 2 and Ralf and Florian--could be on its way, possibly seeing commercial release in 2010:
- Ralf Hütter – synthesisers, organ, lead vocals, vocoder - early works: bass guitar, drums, percussion
- Fritz Hilpert – electronic percussion, sound engineering
- Henning Schmitz – electronic percussion, sound engineering, live keyboards
- Stefan Pfaffe – video technician
- Florian Schneider – synthesisers, background vocals, vocoder, computer-generated vocals - early works: acoustic and electronic flutes, guitar, violin, percussion (1970–2008)
- Andreas Hohmann – drums (1970)
- Klaus Dinger – drums (1970–1971)
- Michael Rother – guitar (1971)
- Wolfgang Flür – electronic percussion (1973–1987)
- Klaus Röder – guitar, electro-violin (1974)
- Karl Bartos – electronic percussion (1975–1991), live vibraphone (1975), live keyboards (1981)
Listed below are musicians who have played live or in the studio with Kraftwerk, but have not appeared on any recordings:
- Fernando Abrantes – electronic percussion
- Plato Kostic (a.k.a. Plato Riviera) – bass guitar.
- Eberhard Kranemann – bass guitar
- Thomas Lohmann - drums
- Houschäng Néjadepour – guitar
- Emil Schult – guitar, electro-violin (later employed as a painter/graphic designer and lyricist)
- Peter Schmidt – drums
- Charly Weiss – drums
Departure of Florian Schneider
Florian Schneider, one of the group's two co-founders, left on November 21, 2008,The Independent had this to say about Schneider's departure: "There is something brilliantly Kraftwerkian about the news that Florian Schneider, a founder member of the German electronic pioneers, is leaving the band to pursue a solo career. Many successful bands break up after just a few years. It has apparently taken Schneider and his musical partner, Ralf Hütter, four decades to discover musical differences." Ralf Hütter had also quit the band for a period of some months between the release of the Kraftwerk and Kraftwerk 2 albums (c.1970–1971) to finish his degree in architecture.
Like many other so-called Krautrock bands Kraftwerk was heavily influenced by the pioneering compositions of Karlheinz Stockhausen; the minimalism and non-R&B rhythms of the Velvet Underground, as well as Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, and the Stooges.Hütter has also listed The Beach Boys as a major influence, which is apparent in its 1975 chart smash, Autobahn. Hütter stated that the Beach Boys made music that sounded like California, and that Kraftwerk wanted to make music that sounded like Germany. Their first three albums were more free-form experimental rock without the pop hooks or the more disciplined strong structure of its later work. Kraftwerk, released in 1970, and Kraftwerk 2, released in 1972, were mostly exploratory jam music, played on a variety of traditional instruments including guitar, bass, drums, electric organ, flute and violin. Post-production modifications to these recordings were then used to distort the sound of the instruments, particularly audio-tape manipulation and multiple dubbings of one instrument on the same track. Both albums are purely instrumental.
With Ralf und Florian, released in 1973, the band began to move closer to its classic sound, relying more heavily on synthesisers and drum machines. Although almost entirely instrumental, the album marks Kraftwerk's first use of the vocoder, which would, in time, become one of its musical signatures.
Kraftwerk's lyrics deal with post-war European urban life and technology—traveling by car on the Autobahn, traveling by train, using home computers, and the like. Usually, the lyrics are very minimal but reveal both an innocent celebration of, and a knowing caution about, the modern world, as well as playing an integral role in the rhythmic structure of the songs. Many of Kraftwerk's songs express the paradoxical nature of modern urban life—a strong sense of alienation existing side-by-side with a celebration of the joys of modern technology.
All of Kraftwerk's albums from Trans-Europe Express onward have been recorded in separate versions: one with German vocals for sale in Germany, Switzerland and Austria and one with English vocals for the rest of the world, with occasional variations in other languages when conceptually appropriate.
Live performance has always played an important part in Kraftwerk's activities. Also, despite its live shows generally being based around formal songs and compositions, live improvisation often plays a noticeable role in its performances. This trait can be traced back to the group's roots in the first experimental Krautrock scene of the late 1960s, but, significantly, it has continued to be a part of its playing even as it makes ever greater use of digital and computer-controlled sequencing in its performances. Some of the band's familiar compositions have been observed to have developed from live improvisations at its concerts or sound-checks.
Early in the group's career, between 1970 and 1974, the group made sporadic live appearances. These shows were mainly in its native Germany, with occasional shows in France, featuring a variety of line-ups. A few of these performances were for television broadcasts. The only constant figure in these line-ups was Schneider, whose main instrument at the time was the flute; at times also playing violin and guitar, all processed through a varied array of electronic effects. Hütter, who left the band for six months in 1971 to pursue studies in architecture, played synthesiser keyboards (including Farfisa organ and electric piano). Various other musicians who appeared on stage as part of the group during these years included Klaus Dinger (acoustic drums), Andreas Hohmann (acoustic drums), Thomas Lohmann (acoustic drums), Michael Rother (electric guitar), Charly Weiss (drums), Eberhard Kranemann (bass-guitar), Plato Kostic (bass-guitar), Emil Schult (electro-violin, electric guitar) and Klaus Roeder (electric violin, electric guitar). Later performances from 1972–73 were made as a duo, using a simple beat-box-type electronic drum machine, with preset rhythms taken from an electric organ. Later in 1973, Wolfgang Flür joined the group for rehearsals, and the unit performed as a trio on the television show, Aspekte, for German television network ZDF.
Documentation of this period in the group's history is sparse, with Hütter and Schneider not keen to talk about it in later interviews. A few bootleg recordings are in circulation. The only officially released material is the band's 1971 performance on the German Beat Club TV show, which is available on DVD.
The year 1975 saw a turning point in Kraftwerk's live shows. With financial support from Phonogram in the US, it was able to undertake a multi-date tour to promote the Autobahn album. This tour took them to the US, Canada and the UK for the first time. The tour also saw a new, stable, live line-up in the form of a quartet. Hütter and Schneider both mainly played keyboard parts on synthesisers such as the Minimoog and ARP Odyssey, with Schneider's use of flute diminishing. The pair also sang vocals on stage for the first time, with Schneider also using a vocoder live. Wolfgang Flür and new recruit Karl Bartos performed live electronic percussion using custom-made (and, at the time, unique) sensor pads hit with metal sticks to complete a circuit and trigger analog synthetic percussion circuits (initially cannibalised from the aforementioned organ beat box). Bartos also used a Deagan Vibraphone on stage. The Hütter-Schneider-Bartos-Flür line-up would remain in place until the late 1980s. Emil Schult generally fulfilled the role of tour manager.
By the late 1970s the band's live set focused increasingly on song-based material, with greater use of vocals, less acoustic instrumentation, and the use of sequencing equipment for percussion and musical lines. The approach taken by the group was to use the sequencing equipment interactively, thus allowing room for improvisation. In 1976, the group went out on tour in support of the Radio-Activity album.
This tour also tested out an experimental light-beam-activated drum cage allowing Flür to trigger electronic percussion through arm and hand movements. Unfortunately, the device did not work as planned, and it was quickly abandoned. The idea was similar French electronic musician Jean Michel Jarre's "laser harp" used in his shows from 1981 to the present day.
Despite the new innovations in touring, the band took a break from live performances after the Radioactivity tour of 1976. The band did, however, appear on television shows to promote the albums Trans Europe Express and The Man-Machine.
The band returned to the live scene with the Computer World tour of 1981, where the band effectively packed up its entire Kling Klang studio and took it on the road with them. Around this time, Wolfgang Flür was heavily involved in designing customised modular housing and packaging for the group's touring equipment. The band also developed an increasing use of visual elements in the live shows during this period. This included back-projected slides and films, increasingly synchronised with the music as the technology developed, the use of hand-held miniaturised instruments during the set, and, perhaps most famously, the use of replica mannequins of themselves to perform onstage during the song "The Robots".
The completion of the Computer World tour in the winter of 1981 precipitated an almost decade-long hiatus in Kraftwerk's live activities. Wolfgang Flür left the band in 1987 and was replaced by Fritz Hilpert. The unit did not perform live again until February 1990, with a few secret shows in Italy. Karl Bartos left the band shortly afterwards. The next proper tour was in 1991, for the album The Mix. Hütter and Schneider wished to continue the synth-pop quartet style of presentation, and recruited Fernando Abrantes as a replacement for Bartos. Abrantes was dismissed shortly after. In late 1991 Henning Schmitz was brought in to finish the remainder of the tour and to complete a new version of the quartet that remained active until 2008.
In 1998, the group toured the US and Japan for the first time since 1981, along with shows in Brazil and Argentina. Three new songs were performed during this period, which remain unreleased. Following this trek, the group decided to take another break.
In 2002 the band was touring again in Europe and Japan, using four customised Sony VAIO laptop computers, effectively leaving the entire Kling Klang studio at home in Germany. The group also obtained a new set of transparent video panels to replace its four large projection screens. This greatly streamlined the running of all of the group's sequencing, sound-generating, and visual-display software. From this point, the band's equipment increasingly reduced manual playing, replacing it with interactive control of sequencing equipment. Hütter retains the most manual performance, still playing selected musical lines by hand on a controller keyboard and singing live vocals and having a repeating ostinato. Schneider's live vocoding has been replaced by software-controlled speech-synthesis techniques.
In January and February 2003, prior to the release of the album Tour de France Soundtracks, the group performed in Australia and New Zealand at several dates on the Big Day Out festival. In November, the group made a surprising appearance at the MTV European Music Awards in Edinburgh, Scotland, featuring a visually stunning performance of Aerodynamik. In 2004 the band toured worldwide in support of Tour de France Soundtracks.
In 2005 the group released its first official live album, Minimum-Maximum, recorded on the aforementioned 2004 world tour. In support of this release, Kraftwerk made another quick sweep around the globe with dates in Serbia, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, and Greece. In December, the DVD release of Minimum-Maximum was made available.
In 2006 a small number of festivals were played in Norway, the Czech Republic, Spain, Belgium and Germany.
In April 2008 the group played three shows in US cities Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Denver, and was a co-headliner at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. This was their second appearance at the festival since 2004.
The touring quartet consisted of Ralf Hütter, Henning Schmitz, Fritz Hilpert, and video technician Stefan Pfaffe. Original member Florian Schneider was absent from the lineup. Hütter stated that he was working on other projects.
Kraftwerk's headline set that was to be played at Global Gathering in Melbourne, Australia on November 22, 2008 was cancelled moments before it was scheduled to begin. No gear was present on the stage and at the moment the show was to begin, Ralf Hütter appeared on the stage with an MC. The MC explained that the band was unable to perform due to the ill health of Fritz Hilpert. Hütter then spoke to the crowd. He apologised and said the band would do all they could to try re-schedule the show(s). The next day, Future Entertainment released a statement, which says that Fritz Hilpert has been cleared to fly and Kraftwerk will not reschedule rest of Australian tour, because Hilpert is now able to play.
They were booked to play UK festival, Bestival, in September 2009, as well as playing a series of live shows with Radiohead in a series of Central/South American concerts happening in March.
The band has performed concerts in Wolfsburg, Germany, Manchester, UK, and Randers, Denmark with special 3D background graphics. Members of the audience were able to watch this multimedia part of the show with 3D glasses, which were given out. During the Manchester concert (part of the 2009 Manchester International Festival) four members of the GB cycling squad (Jason Kenny, Ed Clancy, Jamie Staff and Geraint Thomas) rode around the Velodrome while the band performed Tour de France.
The band is notoriously reclusive; providing rare and enigmatic interviews, using life size mannequins and robots to conduct official photo shoots, refusing to accept mail and not allowing visitors at Kling Klang Studio. Another notable example of this eccentric behavior was reported to Johnny Marr of The Smiths by Karl Bartos, who explained that anyone trying to contact the band for collaboration would be told the studio telephone did not have a ringer, since during recording, the band did not like to hear any kind of noise pollution. Instead, callers were instructed to phone the studio precisely at a certain time, whereupon the phone would be answered by Ralf Hütter, despite never hearing the phone ring. Chris Martin, lead singer of UK group Coldplay, anecdotally recalled, in a late 2007 article in Q about Kraftwerk, the process of requesting permission to sample the melody from the track "Computer Love" in its 2005 release "Talk" from its album X&Y. He recalled writing them a letter and sending it through the lawyers of the respective parties and several weeks later receiving an envelope containing a handwritten reply that simply said 'yes'.
Influence on other musicians
Kraftwerk's music has directly influenced many popular artists from many diverse genres of music.
Kraftwerk's "Trans Europe Express" sampling can be heard in the music of electronic music successes such as Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, and Soft Cell. Kraftwerk would also go on to influence other forms of music such as hip hop, house, and jungle music. Most notably, "Trans Europe Express" was interpolated into "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force, one of the earliest electro hits, with Planet Rock having the exact same beat as Kraftwerk's song "Numbers" even though it came out over ten years before. Kraftwerk are regarded as creators of electro genre.In 1982, Kraftwerk's pioneering work in incorporating looping and sampling would become commonplace in hip hop and many other genres of music, most notably Techno. Detroit-Techno was created by three young black musicians from Detroit, often referred to as the 'Belleville three' (Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson & Derrick May), who fused the repetitive melodies of Kraftwerk with the booty-shaking rhythms of funk.
Joy Division and New Order were heavily influenced by Kraftwerk. Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis was a fan of Kraftwerk, and showed his colleagues records that would influence both groups. New Order's song "Your Silent Face" has some similarities with "Europe Endless," the first song on Trans-Europe Express, and had a working title of KW1, or Kraftwerk 1. New Order also recorded a song called "Krafty" that appeared as a single and on the album Waiting for the Sirens' Call.
While touring after the release of Astronaut in 2005, Duran Duran would signify its arrival on stage by playing "The Robots". This track appeared on the album Nick Rhodes and John Taylor present Only after Dark (2006). When Duran Duran played Broadway in November 2007, and the Lyceum in London in December 2007, they performed "Showroom Dummies" as part of its electro set.
Kraftwerk have also influenced Celtic fusion music, most notably in the use of electronic sounds to complement traditional instruments in the music of bands such as the Peatbog Faeries; their fourth album was called Croftwork and featured the track "Trans-Island Express".
Electronic musician KOMPRESSOR has cited Kraftwerk as an influence. Kraftwerk is also mentioned in the song "RAPPERS WE CRUSH" by KOMPRESSOR and MC Frontalot ("I hurry away, get in my Chrysler. Oh the dismay! / Someone's replaced all of my Backstreet Boys with Kraftwerk tapes!").
Easily the most important musical export from Germany since World War II, Kraftwerk has spawned a large number of tribute bands over the course of their lengthy career. One of the most notable of these was established by Uwe Schmidt, also known as Senor Coconut, and Atom. Performing as Senor Coconut, Schmidt in 2000 released El Baile Alemán, which was intended as a salute to, and a parody of, Kraftwerk. The album reworked a number of major Kraftwerk songs with Latin instrumentation in such a way that they could potentially be performed live as Latin dance numbers. British comedian Bill Bailey has also parodied the band in his live shows.
Slovenian avant-garde group Laibach's founding member Tomaz Hostnik claimed that "Ohm sweet Ohm" was one of his favourite songs therefore this song was used by Laibach in their track dedicated to their deceased member titled "Hostnik" from Krst pod Triglavom OST and in documentary Victory Under The Sun. Laibach also used samples from Kraftwerk's works in their 3.Oktober single from 1990. Laibach's songs appeared also in two compilations dedicated to Kraftwerk which were Trans Slovenia Express vol. 1 and vol. 2. In vol. 1 appeared Laibach's "Zrcalo sveta" which was really their "Apologija Laibach" (written by Hostnik shortly before his death), "3. Oktober" and rework of "Kometenmelodie Part I" made by Laibach's subgroup 300.000 V.K. For vol. 2 Laibach reworked their own song "Brat moj" into "Bruderschaft", which was made as if Kraftwerk created that song themselves. Also, Laibach's concert "Das Kreuzschach und vier Schachspieler" which was based on Laibach's reinterpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Kunst der Fuge" was dedicated, among others, to Kraftwerk.
The Sneaker Pimps also claim to be largely influenced by innovations of kraftwerk.
- Spizzenergi covered "The Model" which can be found on their compilation Spizz History.
- Big Black covered "The Model" on their 1987 final LP.
- Balanescu Quartet String Quartet has done 5 covers of popular Kraftwerk songs on their album Possessed 1992.
- Rammstein covered the German version of "Das Model" in 1997 as "Das Modell". It was released as a non-album single.
- Coldplay received permission from Kraftwerk to use the tune from "Computer Love" as the opening guitar riffs and basis of their 2005 single "Talk". They also credited Kraftwerk as a major influence on their 2005 album, X&Y.
- Uwe Schmidt aka Senor Coconut mentioned above the Latin-Kraftwerk fusion of the album El Baile Alemán.
- U2 recorded a cover version of "Neon Lights" as a B-side for their 2004 "Vertigo" single; it is also included in their 2009 fan-club compilation of rarities, Medium, Rare & Remastered.
- Duran Duran covered "Showroom Dummies during the band's early Red Carpet Massacre Tour shows.
- Louis Guidone covered both "Neon Lights" and "Man Machine" in 2009.
- Simple Minds covered "Neon Lights" and played it live during their 2009 tour Graffiti Soul.
- Foltin covered "The Model" and performs it on almost every live concert.
- OMD covered Neon Lights on their 1991 album Sugar Tax.
- Belle And Sebastian covered "Das Model" during their performance at the Haldern Festival in 2002.
- 1971: Kraftwerk 2
- 1973: Ralf und Florian
- 1974: Autobahn
- 1975: Exceller 8
- 1975: Radio-Activity
- 1977: Trans-Europe Express
- 1978: The Man-Machine
- 1981: Computer World
- 1986: Electric Café (re-titled Techno Pop as of 2009)
- 1991: The Mix
- 2003: Tour de France Soundtracks (re-titled Tour de France as of 2009)
- 2005: Minimum-Maximum (live record)
- 2009: The Catalogue (box set of remastered albums from Autobahn to Tour De France Soundtracks)