Tour de France [Single]

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AllMusic Review by Ken Tataki

A hit song without an album, this was prized vinyl for many years (Warner Bros. 20146-0 A), until EMI smartly rereleased it on compact disc in 1999 with a little multimedia built in, whose centerpiece was a basic video for "Tour de France," assembled from old film footage of the aforementioned cross-country bicycle race. Fueled by heavy breathing, clicking bicycle spokes, and precise electronic syncopation, this single had all the elements of a breakdancers' paradise. Dreamy harp trills shimmered in response to an almost Asian melody line, punched by bass guitar pops, keyboard stabs, and ethereal string samples, suggesting the expansiveness of the French countryside and rolling hills, without ever forgetting that the race is in progress. The lyrics here (sung in French) are atypically human, giving an added warmth that other Kraftwerk songs have dismissed in the past in their endless pursuit of pure mechanization. Due to the subject matter, it's an appropriate choice to leave the robots away from the microphone. The similarity in the three mixes here are slight, so to hear them in succession may wear thin. The third and final mix, however, is worth the wait, giving extra time to all the percussive elements that help make this EP so rewarding.

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