This week in 1987, Düsseldorf, Germany’s Electronic / Synthpop pioneers, Kraftwerk, were enjoying their second week at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart with “The Telephone Call” (or “Der Telefon-Anruf” in German), from their 1986 EP, ELECTRIC CAFE.
“The Telephone Call” was one of 6 songs on ELECTRIC CAFE, and the only Kraftwerk song to feature percussionist and keyboardist Karl Bartos on vocals. It was also the second No. 1 BILLBOARD Dance song in a row from ELECTRIC CAFE (“Musique Non-Stop” spent a week at No. 1 in January 1987.).
While “The Telephone Call” wasn’t really a hit anywhere else around the globe, the song (in both the English and German versions) has a favorite on my WMPG-FM radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s, since the show’s inception 20 years ago.
Kraftwerk formed in Düsseldorf way back in 1970 and are still together today. Their “3D Concert” tour continued into North America last year for 12 dates. Over the years, Kraftwerk has influenced countless musicians and bands that I’ve loved for many years, including the likes of Gary Numan, Ultravox, OMD, Human League, Ladytron, New Order, Depeche Mode and David Bowie.
In 2005, the British magazine NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS (NME) wrote of Kraftwerk: “The Beatles and Kraftwerk may not have the ring of The Beatles and the Stones, but nonetheless, these are the two most important bands in music history.”
1975’s brilliant 23-minute epic “Autobahn” may have been Kraftwerk’s biggest hit (it reached the Top 10 in Germany and New Zealand, the Top 20 in the U.K., Holland and Ireland, and reached a No. 25 peak on the BILLBOARD Hot 100), but to me, “The Telephone Call” is one of the reasons I got into Kraftwerk in the first place. Make the call and discover this gem if you haven’t already…