Kraftwerk - Minimum - Maximum
German noise perfectionists are so hung up on the concept of noise pollution, it is rumoured that their telephones used to have their ringers neutralised lest the ringing spoil the carefully constructed silence of their studio. Anyone wishing to contact them by phone was required to inform them in advance of the time of their desired communication so that the band member concerned could simply lift the receiver at the pre-appointed time and commence the discussion.
This apocryphal tale is told simply because the idea of a Kraftwerk live album could be seen as a sort of contradiction in terms. The songs are performed exactly the same as they are on the albums with the only difference being that they are punctuated by the noise of applause. How the band feel about this uncontrolled interruption to their work is anyone’s guess. In other words, this album screams contractual obligation.
Anyway, what you get for your hard earned cash is a glorified compilation album. It is, however, a compilation album from one of the most sublime bands ever to walk the boards; or one of the most sublime bands to ever stand on the boards looking rather miserable as they produce their music. And what glorious music it is; you get the ominous droning of Radioactivity, the soft liquid sweep of Autobhan and the cold pop soul of The Model, all marching solidly through your speakers. The tracks, as you will note from looking at the tracklisting, are taken from different venues. Whilst this approach is certainly worthy, it doesn’t make the experience any less patchy. It might have been better to simply release a live album from one night. Never mind, we shall probably never know.
Another problem with this album lies with the perfection of Kraftwerk the band. There’s very little in the way of filler they’ve ever recorded, which essentially means that every album is a winner and if you don’t own the rest of them, in one form or another, once you’ve heard this, you probably will want to own them very much and will be able to pick them up very cheaply indeed. It is a good thing to have live versions of these songs, but not necessarily something the world is crying out for, given the lack of live glitches that make most live albums something of a novelty at least. So buyer beware, you can’t go wrong with anything Kraftwerk have produced and this might be a good starter, but it’s not satisfying enough to be anything approaching a main course.