Sammy the Seal

“For beauty, we will pay”

In music videos, vinyl on Monday, 14 November, 2011 at 22:50


Song: The Model
Artist: Kraftwerk
Album: The Man-Machine
It’s always surprising to hear a cover song before the original. “Hey, I know that melody!” I was wondering why Big Black sounded rather tame and simplistic here, distortion and feedback aside. I guess it’s not so surprising they covered it, given Kraftwerk’s far-reaching musical influence, but it’s still kinda cool to know a noise punk band thought it suitable to cover German technopop. Dark, spare, cold, and sleek (all not unlike the subject matter) textures, yet the instrumental break that starts around 1:33 moves, especially at the end of it– I wasn’t alive when they wrote this, yet the suddenly warm tones at 2:20-2:35 stir me. I feel a longing for I have no idea what, if it was ever even there. Who knew something so synthetic could feel so human? I think it’s the killer melody. Melody is natural, but it’s a specifically human conceit, an intangible yet re-assuring one. Not to mention this has way more lyrical variety than the average Kraftwerk song. Full sentences that invoke real imagery? Weird.

I’m guessing not many knew who they were, but Big Black were musicians, so they likely had their ear to the ground. They added their own edge and sound, but they were still pretty faithful to the tone of the original. The cover:

And the video. Sure it may sound dated, but most people in this day and age are pretty unimaginative and boring, anyway. (They were busy pioneering.) Watching this stuff (and listening to it), it’s totally amazing to think of how far ahead of its time this was. Christ, this came out the year I was born! Back then it was all disco, punk, classic rock, and AM radio. To say electronic music was nascent, well, I’d say embryonic is more accurate. As a person, I think where we’ve come from is just as important and fascinating as where we’re going (maybe even more so).

Notice that Capitol Records put this out. The Clash were on a major label too. Quaint, isn’t it?

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