Friday, 23 August 2013

1977 The Alan Parsons Project - I Robot

The Alan Parsons Project, 'I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You', 1977

Info: The Alan Parsons Project consisted mainly of the man himself and keyboardist Eric Woolfsoon, but usually had a number of musicians in tow such as David Paton on bass, and John Miles with Colin Blunstone on background vocals. The group performed between 1975 and 1990 and were a prog-rock band, made distinctive by their plentiful use of vocoders and synthesisers. Parsons and Woolfson's music relationship was formed at the famous Abbey Road studios after a chance meeting in the canteen there in 1974, where Parson's talent as an engineer had seen him work on The Beatles' albums, Abbey Road and Let It Be as well as Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Woolfson himself had a very imaginative streak and had a strong desire to work on concept albums, and with both having a background in production, he was determined to do in music, what contemporaries Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick were doing in film, that is, highlight the leading role of the producers rather than the musicians.Coming from the greater London area, The Alan Parsons Project seemed to enjoy more success in North America than in the U.K., but this still helped propel them into the popular sphere from the mid-seventies to the eighties. 

1977's I, Robot was the follow up to the wonderful debut record in 1975, Tales of Mystery and Imagination (highly recommended) and is arguably the Project's best album, heavily influenced by Isaac Asimov's sci-fi series of books of the same title, indeed, Woolfson consulted Asimov in advance and the Russian-born author was very excited at the proposed piece of work. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from, describes it as an album which 'explores many of the philosophies regarding artificial intelligence - will it overtake man, what does it mean to be man, what responsibilities do mechanical beings have to their creators....'. This brings to mind Spielberg's A.I. in a modern sense, a robot boy who longs for the affection of his human mother, or at the time of the album, Bowie's turn as an android in The Man Who Fell To Earth. 

The theme of the album is very appealing to me, I really enjoy the thick spread of vocoder throughout the album and always find the, maybe slightly naive, futuristic album art fun to examine. The electronic and I suppose, robotic, feel starts straight away with the intro to opening title track 'I Robot' lasting two minutes before we get some nice bass lines and drum beats followed by electric rhythm guitar, this instrumental track sets the tone for the album and is really chilled out. Following on from that is the amazing (and most successful single) 'I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You', a disco joy, it could easily be the intro to a 1970's San Francisco based cop show. Here we may be hearing the robot's perspective as the lyrics read; 'If I had a mind to, I wouldn't want to think like you, and if I had the time to, I wouldn't want to talk to you', with the robot saying, 'Yes, you may be smarter, but from what I've observed, I would not want to be human like you'. 

The next track, 'Some Other Time' really reminds me of a weird Pink Floyd / Thin Lizzy mash-up but it's very enjoyable. 'Breakdown' has a really good heavy bass-line and then seems to turn into something very Fleetwood Mac Rumours era. The sixth track, 'The Voice' is a wonderful white funk celebration, really mellow disco sound. The final track which I find really interesting on this album is 'Nucleus', it's really far ahead of it's time and sounds very like something you would expect from Groove Armada at their peak. I really can't fault any of the songs on this album, it has everything in my view, disco, electronica, funk, rock and lashings of weirdness, I, Robot can get endless listens without getting bored of it, it's surprisingly accessible and is definitely in my top 10 seventies albums.

Track Listing:

1. I Robot
2. I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You
3. Some Other Time
4. Breakdown
5. Don't Let It Show
6. The Voice
7. Nucleus
8. Day After Day (The Show Must Go On)
9. Total Eclipse
10. Genesis Ch.1 Vs.32

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