Weekly Music Thread: The Early Years

Let’s discuss any and all music here. Got a new artist who’s rocking your boat that you want to talk about? Post a video! Found out about that unearthed Coltrane album that has the jazz freak in you losing your mind? Lay it out for us! Have a theory about what your favorite band might do for their next album? Let’s hear it! Anything and everything music-related goes here.

This week’s discussion prompt: The Early Years. Juvenilia. Pre-history. Whatever you want to call it, who are some artists whose early recordings you’ve explored (even if sometimes the artists themselves ignore them or would even rather forget them)? Did you enjoy it, or is it easy to see why the artists moved on to (presumably) bigger and better things?

Kraftwerk are in this category; while officially Autobahn is considered the band’s debut, Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider actually released FOUR full-length albums prior to that (three of which are credited to Kraftwerk, and one as part of a quintet called Organisation). While their early work was mostly experimental rock and free form improvisation, over time they gradually incorporated more of the synthesizers and drum machines that they are typically associated with. However, while bootlegs of these albums exist (and these days all four can easily be found online) to date none of them have been officially reissued.

While Florian Schneider later dismissed those early albums as “archaeology” and none of them reach the heights the band would achieve with their subsequent releases, there are plenty of great moments to be found on them. And Conrad “Konny” Plank, who was a key figure in the so-called “krautrock” movement, co-produced all four of those albums as well!

Those of you who are old enough to have watched Newton’s Apple on PBS may recognize “Ruckzuck” (the opening track from Kraftwerk’s eponymous 1970 album), as it was used as the opening theme music to the show for several years (without permission):

An early version of the same track being performed by Organisation:

And here is another version performed by a short-lived line-up of Kraftwerk which featured Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother, who would go on to form NEU! soon after.

Epic opening track from Kraftwerk 2 (1972), which is more ambient and utilizes the motorik groove heavily associated with “krautrock”:

And this track from Ralf und Florian (1973) showcases the more electronic sound that the band had embraced by this time:

As always, any and all music-related topics are welcome. Have fun, and rock out with yr guac out!