1985-1990: Model 500 - Classics

It is a valid argument that most popular electronic music — in clubs and on the radio — can be traced back to techno, the creation of which can be credited to three high school friends. With an equal appreciation for the club music of the time and artists like Kraftwerk, these kids became immortalized as powerful innovators: The Belleville Three. This is a famous story, and one that you might already know.

What many do not know is where to find an entry point when checking out Detroit techno. Enter Model 500, a moniker for Juan Atkins, that features some of the earliest techno releases going back to ’85. His compilation Classics is exactly what the title implies. A compilation is perhaps the best way to appreciate techno as it’s not typically a genre with strength in the album form*. Furthermore, the great tradition of remixing and reinterpreting is present on this compilation from the start, and the record is improved from having these alternate and at times superior mixes.

Electronic music is often stigmatized as having a shelf-life like milk. Some trends from just a few years ago are already dated, yet Classics still sounds fresh. Sure, it doesn’t sound like it came out last week, but I would argue that many listeners would be shocked to hear that some of these songs are over a quarter century old. The pounding build up of “Off to Battle” and the robotic grind of “Night Drive” — where Atkins wears his Kraftwerk influence proudly on his sleeve — are still just as engaging and rhythmically infectious as they have always been. This is one of the special electronic albums like Trans Europe Express, Music Has the Right to Children, and Untrue, that sounds timeless.

[*An exception could be made for Carl Craig who worked wonderfully in long form and is a sort the virtuoso Robert Johnson to Atkins’ originating Charlie Patton.]


There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

Most Read