The Man-Machine

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The Man-Machine
Kraftwerk - The Man-Machine.png
Studio album by
Released19 May 1978 (1978-05-19)
StudioKling Klang (Düsseldorf, West Germany)
Kraftwerk chronology
Trans-Europe Express
The Man-Machine
Computer World
2009 Edition
2009 remastered edition cover
2009 remastered edition cover
Singles from The Man-Machine
  1. "Die Roboter"
    Released: May 1978 (Germany)
  2. "Das Model"
    Released: September 1978 (Germany)
  3. "Neon Lights"
    Released: December 1978
  4. "The Robots"
    Released: 1978 (UK)
  5. "The Model"
    Released: November 1981 (UK)

The Man-Machine (German: Die Mensch-Maschine) is the seventh studio album by German electronic music band Kraftwerk. It was released on 19 May 1978 by Kling Klang in Germany and by Capitol Records elsewhere. A further refinement of their mechanical style, the album saw the group incorporate more danceable rhythms. It includes the singles "The Model" and "The Robots".

Although the album was initially unsuccessful on the UK Albums Chart, it reached a new peak position of number nine in February 1982,[1] becoming the band's second highest-peaking album in the United Kingdom after Autobahn (1974).[2]

Background and release[edit]

The Man-Machine is the first Kraftwerk album to have Karl Bartos co-credited as a composer along with Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. Emil Schult co-wrote the lyrics for "The Model". AllMusic editor Steve Huey described the album as "closer to the sound and style that would define early new wave electro-pop", and noted its "feel of a divided concept album", with some songs (such as the title track and "The Robots") exploring "the science fiction-esque links between humans and technology", and others (such as "Neon Lights" and "Metropolis") celebrating "the glamour of urbanization".[3] Uncut critic David Cavanagh called "The Model" a "wry pop satire", and wrote that "the sparse lyrics lend themselves to considerable interpretation."[4]

The first German pressing was on red vinyl. The Man-Machine was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on 15 February 1982, denoting shipments in excess of 100,000 copies.[5] In October 2009, a remastered edition of the album was released on CD and digitally by Mute Records in Europe and by Astralwerks in the United States,[6][7] with heavyweight vinyl editions released in November 2009.[8]

The artwork for the cover was produced by Karl Klefisch, based on the work of the Russian suprematist El Lissitzky – the words "Inspired by El Lissitzky" are noted on the cover. The back cover image is an adaptation of a graphic from Lissitzky's book for children About Two Squares: A Suprematist Tale of Two Squares in Six Constructions.[9][10]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideB+[11]
The Guardian[12]
The Irish Times[13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[16]
Spin Alternative Record Guide8/10[18]

Reviewing the album in 1978, Andy Gill of NME stated that "The Man-Machine stands as one of the pinnacles of 70's rock music", adding that "the sparsity of the lyrics leaves the emphasis squarely on those robot rhythms, chilling tones and exquisite melodies."[19] Village Voice critic Robert Christgau also reviewed the album that year, saying: "Only a curmudgeon could reject a group that synthesizes the innovations of Environments and David Seville & the Chipmunks, not to mention that it's better make-out music."[20] Mitchell Schneider from Rolling Stone found that the "chilling restraint and relentless sameness" of the lyrics and music are tempered by Kraftwerk's sense of humour and "sheer audacity", which makes for a listening experience that is "strangely pleasant in an otherworldly way."[21]

In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Steve Huey wrote that the album is "less minimalistic in its arrangements and more complex and danceable in its underlying rhythms" than the group's previous works, and noted its "tremendous impact" on subsequent synth-pop artists.[3] NME ranked The Man-Machine as the 57th greatest album of all time in 2013, citing it as Kraftwerk's "definitive" album and the catalyst for the synth-pop "revolution" that followed its release.[22]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Ralf Hütter except "The Model", lyrics by Hütter and Emil Schult.

Side one
1."The Robots" ("Die Roboter")6:10
  • Hütter
  • Bartos
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
  • Bartos
Side two
4."The Model" ("Das Model")
  • Hütter
  • Bartos
5."Neon Lights" ("Neonlicht")
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
  • Bartos
6."The Man-Machine" ("Die Mensch-Maschine")
  • Hütter
  • Bartos
Total length:36:10


Credits adapted from the liner notes of the 2009 remastered edition of The Man-Machine.[23]


Additional personnel

  • Günther Fröhling – photography
  • Leanard Jackson – engineering
  • Karl Klefisch – artwork
  • Joschko Rudas – engineering
  • Henning Schmitz – engineering assistance
  • Johann Zambryski – artwork reconstruction (2009 remaster)



Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Germany 150,000[33]
United Kingdom (BPI)[5] Gold 100,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ a b "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Kraftwerk" (select "Albums" tab). Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Huey, Steve. "The Man-Machine – Kraftwerk". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b Cavanagh, David (16 October 2009). "Uncut reviews: Kraftwerk – Reissues". Uncut. London. ISSN 1368-0722. Archived from the original on 5 December 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  5. ^ a b "British album certifications – Kraftwerk – The Man-Machine". British Phonographic Industry. 15 February 1982.Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type The Man-Machine in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  6. ^ "The Man Machine (Original recording remastered): Kraftwerk". Amazon (UK). Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  7. ^ "The Man Machine (Remastered) by Kraftwerk". iTunes Store (UK). Archived from the original on 22 September 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  8. ^ "The Man Machine [VINYL] (Limited Edition, Original recording remastered): Kraftwerk". Amazon (UK). Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  9. ^ "And Red organizes a settlement on the black square". Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  10. ^ "El Lissitzky. Suprematic tale about two squares". Ukrainian Art Library.
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "K". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor and Fields. ISBN 0-89919-026-X. Retrieved 28 February 2019 – via
  12. ^ Sweeting, Adam (14 April 1995). "CDs of the week: Kraftwerk reissues". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0261-3077.
  13. ^ Clayton-Lea, Tony (30 October 2009). "Kraftwerk: Autobahn (1974), Radio-Activity (1975), Trans Europe Express (1977), The Man-Machine (1978) (Mute/EMI)". The Irish Times. Dublin. ISSN 0791-5144. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  14. ^ Snow, Mat (November 2009). "Gut Vibrations". Mojo. No. 192. London. p. 110. ISSN 1351-0193.
  15. ^ "Kraftwerk: The Man-Machine". Q. London. 2009. p. 116. ISSN 0955-4955. As evidenced by the mesmeric groove of 'Spacelab,' their influence on the more electronic end of disco was feeding back into their own art ...
  16. ^ Coleman, Mark; Randall, Mac (2004). "Kraftwerk". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 468–69. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  17. ^ Harrison, Andrew (June 1995). "Kraftwerk: Radio Activity / Man Machine / Computer World / The Mix". Select. No. 60. London. ISSN 0959-8367.
  18. ^ Reynolds, Simon (1995). "Kraftwerk". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 215–16. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  19. ^ Gill, Andy (29 April 1978). "Mind Machine Music". NME. London. ISSN 0028-6362.
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (4 September 1978). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. ISSN 0042-6180. Retrieved 29 April 2013 – via
  21. ^ Schneider, Mitchell (18 May 1978). "The Man-Machine". Rolling Stone. New York. ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  22. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time: 100–1". NME. London. 25 October 2013. ISSN 0028-6362. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  23. ^ Die Mensch-Maschine (remastered CD liner notes). Kraftwerk. Kling Klang. 2009. 50999 6 99589 2 2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  24. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 170. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  25. ^ " – Kraftwerk – Die Mensch-Maschine" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  26. ^ " – Kraftwerk – The Man·Machine" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  27. ^ "Le Détail des Albums de chaque Artiste". InfoDisc (in French). Retrieved 1 June 2018. Select "KRAFTWERK" from the drop-down menu and then press "OK".
  28. ^ " – Kraftwerk – Die Mensch-Maschine" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  29. ^ " – Kraftwerk – The Man·Machine". Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  30. ^ "Kraftwerk Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  31. ^ " – Kraftwerk – Die Mensch-Maschine". Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  32. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts – 1978" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  33. ^ "EMI Electrola" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 90, no. 50. New York. 16 December 1978. p. WG-12. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 5 October 2020 – via World Radio History.

External links[edit]