First exposure - now on a pedestal, as it should be.
Hedgehog | New Jersey | 12/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Man Machine" was my first exposure to Kraftwerk back in the late 70's, and in the remaster, the work sounds that much better. Nice to see it raised on such a pedestal. Although I have the original vinyl, I haven't compared the two side-by-side, but the remaster is powerful, clear and clean, which does the music great justice. There is so much clean detail - like the subtle breathiness of the single-word vocal in "Spacelab", or the clean staccato beat at the start of "The Man Machine", and the detail of the sounds in it.
Not having the direct comparison of new to old, I'll stick to the tracks, which are especially informative when comparing to Kraftwerk's "Computer World" (1981) - very different compilations. "The Man Machine" is like a "working man's" (actually, "working robots") compilation compared to "Computer World". If you liked the latter, you'll like this even better if you like simplicity. "The Man Machine" is analogous to the imaginative liner notes (actually photos), which show the four Kraftwerk mannequins going off to a day of work (arriving promptly at 7:59 to their recording studio). It's practical and hard-hitting in most spots, interleaved with the "experiences" of the day. Brilliant - and so much different than the also brilliant "Computer World". You will not find anything like "Numbers" or "It's More Fun to Compute" (from the latter CD) here. In comparison, "The Man Machine" world is quaint and familiar, rather than being edgy.
Track 1 (The Robots) "We are programmed just to do, anything you want us to". The PERFECT intro to this compilation. The track just brilliantly gives the feeling of marching forward, somewhat in a plodding but well-defined way that you might imagine a robot would do. A lot of vocoder here, and the remaster picks up all the very fine subtlety - the breathiness and echo. Just great.
Track 2 (Spacelab) Starts with the sound of a door closing. Perhaps the door to the studio? Now, the robots go to work - making sounds quite unlike the first track! This track is far more fluid and spacious. The melody is mostly uplifting, but with a few melancholy lines - both feelings are carried in a smooth melody which overlays a very staccato beat.
Track 3: (Metropolis) The start sounds like the power is coming up, over the sound of a "beating heart" of the city, which smoothly transitions to another smooth melody - something you might attribute to smooth movement. Feels like you're watching the goings-on of a Fritz Lang style art-deco city through the eyes of "the robots".
Track 4: (The Model) The robots hit the night club. Another smooth, charming melody - sounds like the Kraftwerk "robot" equivalent to Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistible".
Track 5: (Neon Lights) Nostalgic. The start is so simple, and a bit melancholy. Day passes into night in the robot world, but here (as in "the Model") we have human vocals. The musical lines are so simple, even though they layer as the song proceeds. The synth
That comes in at 2:00 in the song mimics the lyric - "shimmering neon lights". The slow tempo, crossed with the smooth melody and staccato beat gives a peaceful feeling in this seemingly "cold" robot world.
Track 6: (The Man Machine) Just in case you were forgetting where you were from hearing the last two tracks, we're now back to the working, robot world. Seems like the complement to track 1 in many ways - simple clean musical lines, with "sound effects" in many spots that are used as musical lines, overlayed in the usual brilliant Kraftwerk way.
To conclude - I can't help to re-iterate the vast difference between this compilation, and "Computer World". I'm leaning toward the latter as the "better" compilation, but both are beyond 5 stars, so it doesn't matter - if you are into Electronica, you must have both.
Not breathtaking actually
M. Chapman | Australia | 02/03/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I am going to enter a review which I feel is an honest assessment but will annoy some of the previous reviewers (at least).
Now I love this album and have owned a copy in some form or other since its debut in '77.
I jumped at the chance to buy my two favourites when they were remastered ( The Mix and Man Machine.)
Upon listening to The Mix I thought there was very little upgrading of the sound in the upper frequencies, and any improvement to the bass was caused by the recording being slightly louder only.
I subsequently read the "glowing" reviews for the Man Machine and thought it must be true that it is vastly improved. Not.
To verify my suspicions, I played my analogue master cd back to back with the new remaster...and came to the conclusion that I could get the same sound simply by turning up the volume on the old copy.