Friday, 22 August 2014

The Mechanical Man : Bent Bolt & The Nuts

One may be forgiven for believing that Kraftwerk pioneered the whole robot-voice-singy thing... but you'd be wrong. In an interview with Look-In magazine, Kraftwerk's Ralph Hutter said "Ich lieh alle meine ideen von Bent Bolt, vor allem die roboter-stimme, aber bitte erzähle niemandem oder ich würde für plagiate verklagt werden" there you have it, no Bent Bolt = no Kraftwerk!

But how on earth did Bent Bolt manage to sound so robotic in the mid sixties? Well there's three possible explanations. 1. He used a vocoder. 2. He's a robot. 3. He used a vocal technique called overtone singing. Even the real identity of Bent Bolt is a bit of a mystery. Some say he's one Teddy Randazzo, others suspect it may actually be Popeye (the sailor). I guess we'll never know the truth about Bent Bolt, but what we do have is the legacy. Before 1966 there was only a small handful of robot songs, none of which featured a real robot voice (as far as I know anyway), but since that year there's been hundreds of robot songs and robot singing. It could be argued that this is the first real robot song, but it does have The Tin Man's If I Only Had A Heart to contend with. From 1966, it's Bent Bolt & The Nuts with The Mechanical Man.

Get in touch know if you know of any older robot songs... I'd love to hear some from the 40s and 50s.

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