Trans-Europe Express (song)

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"Trans-Europe Express"
Single by Kraftwerk
from the album Trans-Europe Express
B-side "Franz Schubert" (7")
"Metal on Metal" (12")
Released 1977
Recorded 1976-1977
Genre Electronic
Length 6:53 (album version)
3:56 (single version)
Kraftwerk singles chronology
"Trans-Europe Express"
"Showroom Dummies"
Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express" from Trans-Europe Express

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"Trans-Europe Express" is the title track of Kraftwerk's 1977 album of the same name, and released as a single at the time, and reissued on CD in 1990. The music was written by Ralf Hütter, and the lyrics by Hütter and Emil Schult.[1] The track is ostensibly about the Trans Europ Express rail system, with technology and transport both being common themes in Kraftwerk's oeuvre.

The track has since found further influence, both in hip-hop by its interpolation by Afrika Bambaata (via Arthur Baker) on the seminal "Planet Rock", which has been sampled and remixed by many different artists such as Paul Oakenfold for Swordfish's soundtrack, and by modern experimental bands such as the electroclash bands of the early 2000s.[2]


"Trans-Europe Express" was released as a single in 1977,[3] and charted in the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at number 67.[4] Trans-Europe Express began charting in the United Kingdom in the 1980s. The album entered the charts on February 6, 1982, staying in the charts for seven weeks and peaking at number 49.

Music and lyrical references[edit]

Allmusic described the musical elements of the suite as having a haunting theme with "deadpan chanting of the title phrase" which is "slowly layered over that rhythmic base in much the same way that the earlier "Autobahn" was constructed".[2] The song's lyrics reference the album Station to Station and meeting with musicians Iggy Pop and David Bowie.[5] Hütter and Schneider had previously met up with Bowie in Germany and were flattered with the attention they received from him.[6] Ralf Hütter was interested in Bowie's work as he had been working with Iggy Pop, who was the former lead singer of the Stooges; one of Hütter's favorite groups.[5]

Track listing[edit]

7" vinyl[edit]

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Trans-Europe Express"   3:56
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "Franz Schubert"   3:25

12" vinyl[edit]

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Trans-Europe Express"   6:35
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "Metal on Metal"   6:31

CD single[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Trans-Europe Express (album version)"   6:43
2. "Trans-Europe Express (single version)"   3:55
3. "Les Mannequins"   6:04
4. "Showroom Dummies"   6:02


Chart (1977) Peak
Canadian Singles Chart[7] 96
French Singles Chart[8] 26
Italian Singles Chart[9] 34
Swedish Singles Chart[10] 15
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[11] 67


  1. ^ Trans-Europe Express (Digital Remaster) (liner notes). Kraftwerk. Mute Records. 2009. CDSTUMM305. 
  2. ^ a b Mason, Stewart. "Song review: Trans-Europe Express". Allmusic. Retrieved October 21, 2009. 
  3. ^ Strong, 1998. p.454
  4. ^ "Trans-Europe Express: Charts & Awards: Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved October 22, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Bussy, 2004. p.85
  6. ^ Bussy, 2004. p.84
  7. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 2011-07-12. 
  8. ^ "Tout les Titres par Artiste: K (select Kraftwerk on the list)". InfoDisc. Retrieved 2014-10-20. 
  9. ^ "Indice per Interprete: K". (in Italian). Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  10. ^ Steffen Hung. "Discography Kraftwerk". Retrieved 2015-11-04. 
  11. ^ "Kraftwerk - Chart history". Billboard. 2015-06-30. Retrieved 2015-11-04.