Is… Kraftwerk, circa 1970-1973. Members Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider have disowned the music they made under the names Kraftwerk and Organisation from those years. As far as they’re concerned, Kraftwerk began with 1974’s Autobahn.
Now, I get why Kraftwerk choose not to perform this material live; you can't program this sort of on-the-fly genius and it's too strenuous to try to replicate it with a live band... and only a small percentage of the population even cares anymore anyway. However, this is no reason to act like these documents never existed. The albums Tone Float (as Organisation), Kraftwerk, Kraftwerk 2, and Ralf und Florian—all co-produced by Conny Plank—represent some of the most adventurous free rock and exploratory electronic recordings ever cut. They sound drastically different from the later precision-tooled synthesizer-centric works that followed after Autobahn, but they deserve not to dwell in ignominious out-of-print status; rather they merit deluxe reissues with liner notes, previously unseen photos, the works. Nor do these records deserve to be ignored in “career retrospectives,” like what took place in 2012 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8).
This state of affairs has been a chronic irritation for psychedelic-music fans for decades. But that soreness occasionally gets ameliorated by actions like this: Henry Owings of Chunklet zine fame has uploaded a 48-minute set of Kraftwerk live in 1970 at Rockpalast. You won’t hear anything from this era at Kraftwerk’s July 1 show at the Paramount. But if you want to know why so many geeks get evangelical about this period of the group, give this clip your full attention. The insane rhythmic and tonal vocabulary and structural subversion going on here are off the charts. (Look for Klaus Dinger playing drums in this incarnation of Kraftwerk; he would later go on to form the essential duo Neu! with guitarist/keyboardist Michael Rother, another former Kraftwerk member)
Tip: Ian Scot Price