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Robots is a compilation that draws from Kraftwerk's three-album tenure with Capitol: Radio-Activity, Trans-Europe Express, and The Man-Machine. All of them are seminal albums, but too self-contained to be taken out of context as they are here. The Man-Machine is the best represented: "The Robots," "The Model," and "Neon Lights" are exemplary of that album's concise, disco-oriented sound. Radio-Activity suffers by comparison; "Geiger Counter" was originally conceived as a question mark -- is it music or a defect on the LP? As an opening track, it is highly effective. Sandwiched between tracks (as it is here), it's just noise. The same holds for "Uranium." At least "Antenna" and "Radioactivity" give some indication of that album's weight; it's probably the best of the Kraftwerk albums but, as Robots proves, it's best appreciated in its original concept. Pulling snippets from Radio-Activity is Trans-Europe Express' loss -- "The Hall of Mirrors" or "Franz Schubert" are more deserving than "Transistor" and the rest of Radio-Activity's experimental segues. As a result, Robots doesn't serve any purpose other than to offer cheapskates a way to sample some songs from Kraftwerk's Capitol days. Save your money for Radio-Activity, Trans-Europe Express, and The Man-Machine (in that order) instead, since they're much better than the sum of Robots' parts. Capitol Special Markets re-released these albums in 1993 (on very nice vinyl to boot), and they can be had for a good price if you shop around.

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