My Favorite Albums – I Robot –  The Alan Parsons Project

In a matter of a moment, Lost till the end of time
It’s the evening of another day, And the end of mine

I Robot is a classic by British rock band Alan Parsons Project. It was released on July 8, 1977, on Arista Records. The album draws conceptually on author Isaac Asimov’s science fiction Robot stories, exploring philosophical themes regarding artificial intelligence. It was released with a gatefold cover where the inside has the lyrics and a monochrome photo of Parsons.

The record itself has a custom label with the robot on the cover. The album had three singles, “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You”, “Don’t Let it Show” and “Day After Day (The Show Must Go On)”. The LP track “Breakdown” got much classic radio station play and is still popular on those types of channels today.

The cover, by Hipgnosis, features a photo of Storm Thorgerson’s[1] assistants in the escalator tubes of the circular Terminal 1 building of the Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris. The painting of the robot, with a stylized atom for a brain, was superimposed over the photo. The robot was drawn by Emanuel Goldberg.

Tracks

Parsons and Woolfson wrote all songs except where noted

A1I Robot6:06
A2I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You3:19
A3Some Other Time4:05
A4Breakdown3:50
A5Don’t Let It Show4:21
B1The Voice5:21
B2Nucleus3:35
B3Day After Day (The Show Must Go On)3:43
B4Total Eclipse
Written-By – Andrew Powell
3:05
B5Genesis Ch.1, V.323:37

The album reached #9 on the US Billboard 200 charts. This was The Alan Parsons Projects’ second album release following the 1976 “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” and was followed by the 1978 “Pyramid”. The song “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” was used in the 2013 video game “Grand Theft Auto V”, in season 1, episode 9 of “Mindhunter”, and “Genesis Ch. 1 V. 32” was used in season 1, episode 6 of “Homecoming”.

The Band
  • David Paton – bass, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
  • Stuart Tosh – drums, percussion, backing vocals
  • Ian Bairnson – electric and acoustic guitars, backing vocals
  • Eric Woolfson – keyboards, vocoder, backing vocals
  • Alan Parsons – keyboards, vocoder, backing vocals, acoustic guitar
  • Duncan Mackay – keyboards
  • B.J. Cole – steel guitar
  • John Leach – cimbalom, kantele
  • Lenny Zakatek, Allan Clarke, Steve Harley, Jack Harris, Peter Straker, Jaki Whitren, Dave Townsend, the English Chorale, the New Philharmonia Chorus – vocals
  • Hilary Western – backing vocals
  • Smokey Parsons – backing vocals
  • Tony Rivers, John Perry, and Stu Calver – backing vocals on “Some Other Time”
  • Produced and engineered by Alan Parsons, executive producer Eric Woolfson
  • Orchestra and choir arranged and conducted by Andrew Powell

The album plays like a greatest hits record but I really think that “Some Other Time” stands out with great vocals by Peter Straker[2] and Jaki Whitren[3]. Another of my favorites is “The Voice”, vocals by Steve Harley[4].

The album ends with the Sci-Fi/haunted-sounding “Total Eclipse” (The English Chorale) and then the more rocking “Genesis Ch. 1 V. 32” (The New Philharmonia Chorus). Just beautiful. The English Chorale also “ahs” during the great opener “I Robot”. The song contains any synths, such as the Yamaha CS80, as well as the Projection, an Alan-Parsons-modified version of a Mellotron.

The album originally was intended to relate to Isaac Asimov’s classic story ‘I, Robot’, but as Asimov had sold the rights some years previously, it was adapted to a more general theme of human versus artificial intelligence.



Footnotes
  1. Storm Elvin Thorgerson (February 28, 1944 – April 18, 2013) was an English graphic designer and music video director. In 1968, along with Aubrey Powell, he founded the visual art group Hipgnosis, and between them, they designed many famous single and album covers, with Peter Christopherson joining them for their later commissions. [Back]
  2. Peter Straker (born November 7, 1943) is a Jamaican-born British singer and actor. He first became known in 1968, when he starred as Hud in the original London production of Hair. Peter was featured in countless West End productions, including Pete Townshend’s Tommy, Ken Hill’s Phantom of the Opera, The Rocky Horror Show, and The Rat Pack. He appeared in Doctor Who (in the 1979 serial Destiny of the Daleks). [Back]
  3. Jaki Whitren (1954 – November 24, 2016) was a British singer-songwriter. Her debut album, Raw But Tender (1973), featuring the single “Give Her The Day” which received some airplay on BBC Radio 1, was recorded when she was 19 years old. It was a mix of blues, folk, and rock, and she also played guitar and banjo. She played a tour, supporting John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra. [Back]
  4. Steve Harley (born Stephen Malcolm Ronald Nice; February 27, 1951) is an English singer and songwriter, best known as the frontman of the rock group Cockney Rebel, with whom he still tours, albeit with frequent and significant personnel changes. [Back]

Sources

Discogs
Wikipedia
The Alan Parsons Project

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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