radio activity

Radio-Activity

[rey-dee-oh-ak-tiv-i-tee]
For other uses of "Radio activity" and "radioactivity", see Radioactive (disambiguation).

Radio-Activity is a 1975 concept album by Kraftwerk. It was also released under the German name of Radio-Aktivität. Unlike Kraftwerk's later albums, which featured language-specific lyrics, only the titles differ between the English and German editions.

The hyphenated album title displays Kraftwerk's typical deadpan humour, being a pun on the twin themes of the songs, half being about radioactivity and the other half about activity on the radio. More word plays are evident in the track listing: the cleverly titled "Ohm Sweet Ohm", and "Radio Stars", which as a title could refer to pop stars, but upon listening is revealed to be about quasars and pulsars.

This was the first Kraftwerk album to be entirely self-produced by Hütter & Schneider in their Kling Klang studio, and the first one to be performed by the "classic" Hütter/Schneider/Bartos/Flür line-up. All the music was written by Hütter/Schneider, with Emil Schult collaborating on lyrics. Schult also designed the artwork – a modified illustration of a late-1930s 'Deutscher Kleinempfänger' radio.

It was the first Kraftwerk album to feature use of the distinctive Vako Orchestron keyboard (choir, string and organ sounds), which the group had purchased on their recent US Autobahn tour. The band's custom-built electronic percussion also featured heavily in the sound, and extensive use was made of the vocoder. The usual synthesizers were present (including Minimoog and ARP Odyssey), and Ralf's Farfisa electronic piano made a return on "Transistor". For the first time the group did not use flute, violin or guitars.

By 1975, Hütter and Schneider's previous publishing deals with Capriccio Music and Star Musik Studio of Hamburg had expired. The compositions on Radio-Activity were published by their own newly set up Kling Klang Verlag music publishing company, giving them greater financial control over the use of songwriting output. Also, the album was the first to bear the fruit of Kling Klang as an established vanity label under the group's new licensing deal with EMI. The album reached #59 in Canada, in February 1976.

The title track "Radioactivity" was released as a single, and became a hit in France after it was used as the theme to a popular music show. The song was later re-recorded by Kraftwerk for their 1991 album The Mix. It was further remixed, for subsequent single release, by William Orbit and François Kevorkian.

Track listing

(English release titles / German release titles)

Side one

  1. "Geiger Counter" / "Geigerzähler" – 1:07
  2. "Radioactivity" / "Radioaktivität" – 6:42
  3. "Radioland" / "Radioland" – 5:50
  4. "Airwaves" / "Ätherwellen" – 4:40
  5. "Intermission" / "Sendepause" – 0:39
  6. "News" / "Nachrichten" – 1:17

2 - 4 written by Hütter/Schneider/Schult
1, 5 & 6 written by Hütter/Schneider

Side two

  1. "The Voice of Energy" / "Die Stimme der Energie" – 0:55
  2. "Antenna" / "Antenne" – 3:43
  3. "Radio Stars" / "Radio Sterne" – 3:35
  4. "Uranium" / "Uran" – 1:26
  5. "Transistor" / "Transistor" – 2:15
  6. "Ohm sweet Ohm" / "Ohm sweet Ohm" – 5:39

1 - 4 written by Hütter/Schneider/Schult
5 & 6 written by Hütter/Schneider

Equipment

Credits

Release details

The original releases of each format are shown below. These may differ from currently available versions.
Country Date Label Format Catalog
Germany December 1975 EMI-Electrola Vinyl 1C 062 82 087 With insert sheet of 'Radio-Aktivität' stickers
December 1975 EMI-Electrola Cassette 1C 244 82087
February 1986 EMI-Electrola CD CDP 564 7 46132 2
United Kingdom December 1975 Capitol Vinyl E-ST 11457
December 1975 Capitol Cassette TC E-ST 11457
1976 Capitol 8-track 8X-E-ST 11457
June 1987 EMI CD CDP 7 46474 2
United States January 1976 Capitol Vinyl ST-11457 With insert sheet of 'Radio-Activity' stickers
1985 Capitol Cassette C2 46474
1976 Capitol 8-track 8XT 11457
1985 Capitol CD CDP 7 46473

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