The Alan Parsons Project completely passed me by during the 70's and 80's. I was aware of the albums, but didn't think they warranted my attention. How wrong I was. Now with the back catalogue being remastered, this is an ideal opportunity to find out what the fuss was about. "I Robot" was the second album, following on from the very successful "Tales of Mystery And Imagination". Where that album was moody and theatrical, "I Robot" seems more cohesively structured as an album of songs, with Eric Woolfson's songwriting abilities really shining.
Though the material may be termed "proglite", there is no denying the quality and intelligence of the songwriting, arrangements and instrumentation. Released in the heyday of punk, it is clear these albums were made as an antithesis for the back to basics, diy aesthetic that was becoming the norm. Alan Parsons was determined to make high quality records with top notch production. "I Robot" is a sumptuous sounding album, heightened here by the subtle remastering, overseen by Parsons himself. As a fan of the work of Lana Lane and her husband Erik Norlander, it is clear how influential Parsons production methods have been on musicians even today.
This re-issue is a clear example of how to do a proper remastering/re-release job. Much thought has gone into the remastering, bonus tracks and booklet. For example each release includes a special medley of instrumental themes used throughout the album. Here we have the 10 minute "Naked Robot". The booklet has insightful notes, which include recent interviews with Alan and Eric, together with recording and musician credits detailed throughout.
This is a definite labour of love by all concerned and is one of the best re-issues I have come across in a long time, especially from a major label and at mid price too!
on 28 December 2001
If you own an original LP of this album, you will probably have noticed that the sound quality was not too brilliant - 70's vinyl never was (thanks to the oil crisis). Also, to get the full effect of Parsons' production job, the clarity and convenience of the CD would be a better option, but we'll all have to wait for DVD-Audio to get the proper Parsons-approved version.
That's where this vinyl edition comes in - the timeless artwork is pefectly restored and printed on a heavy-quality sleeve, while the audio pressing is on 180g virgin vinyl (ie. not recycled) for superior quality. If you have any of the Arista LPs, you can seriously hear the difference.
As for the musical content, "I Robot" is rightly heralded as one of The Project's finest and I am inclined to agree. I personally rate the opening instrumental as second only to the 1979 classic "Lucifer", while songs like "Some Other Time", "The Voice" and the two closing instrumentals round off an almost flawless.
It's always nice to have a collectable edition of any classic album, and "I Robot" certainly ranks as one. So hurry - buy this classic now!
As well as reviewing an album which is brilliant even by the lofty standards of the Alan Parsons Project, I'm going to point out that there exists a version of this CD which surpasses even the remastered version generally available in the UK and the US. More on this later............
On a briefly personal note, I discovered APP in 1982 when I bought 'Pyramid' - and was so staggered that I went straight back out and bought the five other albums available at that time. In my amazement at this discovery, I tended to under-rate 'I Robot'. Now - and I'm not alone in this amongst Project fans in saying this - I rather think it's their best effort, and it's certainly the Project album that I find myself playing most often.
The Project seemed then, and remains to this day, the absolute zenith where progressive rock is concerned. In the late 1970s, as disco and then punk began to take over the music scene, the Project carried on regardless - with this kind of talent, you can afford to ignore trends in the broader spectrum.
As anyone reading this probably knows, the Project was the first "producer's band" - the main man, Alan Parsons, didn't even appear on the albums in the early days. Parsons, whose studio credits included 'Abbey Road', 'Dark Side of the Moon', 'Year of the Cat', 'Modern Times'.......(the list goes on)........teamed up with the multi-talented Eric Woolfson to produce a supposedly one-off concept album ('Tales of Mystery and Imagination') using the very best session artists available. In fact, the title wasn't meant to be the name of the band - it was the record company's shorthand for the first project (and, to be strictly fair, it should really have been called 'The Parsons-Woolfson Project').
The name stuck, the Project moved to a new label (Arista) and a follow-up album was planned - 'I Robot'. Parsons and Woolfson were inspired by the book 'I, Robot', but that title couldn't be used because the Asimov classic was contracted. No matter - drop the comma, broaden the subject to a general look at the possibility that robots could one day dominate mankind, and press ahead. (Given recent reported experiments by the military, the idea that robots could take over seems chillingly less implausible now than it did back in 1977).
As was to become the Project's pattern thereafter, the album kicks off with the instrumental title track, a superb if gradual opener. Then we move into rock mode with 'I wouldn't want to be like you', with new discovery (and future Project stalwart) Lenny Zakatek on vocals. The mellower (but still forceful) 'Some other time' is followed by 'Breakdown', to which Allan Clarke (of the Hollies) lends his vocal talents.
After the beautiful and wistful 'Don't let it show', we're on to one of the real highlights of an all-highlights album - 'The voice', sung by the incomparable Steve Harley (whose Cockney Rebel was yet another Parsons' studio credit). The excellent instrumental 'Nucleus' gives way to the outstanding 'Day after day'. Next comes the haunting choral-instrumental 'Total Eclipse', and then another superb instrumental, the menacing 'Gensis Ch.1 V. 32'. And that's where this superb album ended............
........until the reissue programme, that is, because the nicely-remastered CD provides five bonus tracks, including the lengthy 'The naked robot'. These tracks are a bonus in the truest sense of the word, not least because they illustrate the painstakingly meticulous way in which the albums were honed from initial inspiration through to crafted perfection. Throughout, the instrumentals are a match for the galaxy of vocal talent on display - it's almost invidious to single anyone out, but I must mention wonderfully talented guitarist Ian Bairnson.
I said, at the start, that the best could be even better, and here's how. After enjoying the conventional reissue, I discovered SHM, a recent Japanese technical development which uses advanced materials to produce even greater musical clarity yet is fully compatible with standard CD players. SHM albums - which usually come in exact replicas of the original album sleeve, which means gatefold in this instance - are seldom inexpensive, but if you want to savour 'I Robot' in even higher fidelity, the extra outlay is very worthwhile.
And that's it - a brilliant, even better for remastering, better still on SHM......
on 19 May 2006
Alan Parsons Project leaped onto the rock-n-roll scene in 1976 with the release of the album Tales of Mystery & Imagination, which was actually inspired by the works of Edgar Allen Poe! Clearly, here was a group that would not produce the cookie cutter pop that was all the rage at the time. In 1977, APP released I Robot, which was inspired by the science fiction works of Isaac Asimov, features futuristic sounding instrumentals couple with dark, brooding tunes.
I first acquired this album back in my college days, and it was one of my favorites. For reasons I never could fathom, the album wasn't as popular with my friends as it was with me, but I figured that that was their loss. Eventually, the tape wore out, and it passed into my history. Well, lately I realized that I had to have the album again, so I went out and got it, and boy am I pleased!
I love sounds on this album, from the electronic I Robot, through the soulful Some Other Time, to the dark and brooding Genesis Ch. 1 V. 32. (Wouldn't Genesis Ch. 1 V. 32 make a great tune for a horror flick?) So, if you are looking for a great rock album, one that eschews popular sounds and forms, then buy I Robot, it is one of the greatest albums ever made!
on 4 January 2004
The Alan Parsons Project really came at the wrong time. When the music industry was desperate to sign up punk bands who could barely play a few chords, here was a collective of skilled musicians, sublimating their own identities in support of a producer with prog-rock leanings. And by the time CD technology arrived, the Alan Parsons Project had already cut most of their best work, and the problem was that, when it came to replacing our favourite LPs with the CD version, APP albums weren't typically top of our list.
So I will be the first to admit that I've neglected APP over the years. It is over 20 years since I heard this album and, having just bought it on CD, it is sheer joy to hear so many high-quality tracks that I'd had nagging in the back of my mind over the years and I'd been unable to place. I'd previously bought an APP compilation on CD, but classics such as 'Some Other Time' and 'The Voice' seem to have been excluded from all his 'Best of' collections.
This CD is AAD and not remastered, but it sounds pretty good, all the same. (Parsons gave its predecessor, 'Tales of Mystery', a thorough re-working for CD, not only remastering it but also getting Ian Bairnson to lay down new guitar tracks.)
When 'Tales of Mystery' came out in 1976, there was a certain amount of hype about it, much of it related to Parsons' work on DARK SIDE OF THE MOON. The album even got favourably reviewed by Derek Jewell on Radio 3's 'Sounds Interesting'. But some buyers, myself included, were disappointed at the time, because of the 'difficult' side two, which was largely classical. It therefore came as a great relief that the follow-up 'I Robot' wasted none of its tracks on classical pretensions.
I first heard the single 'I wouldn't want to be like you' when visiting the US for the first time. I was spending up to eight hours a day on a Trekamerica minibus, going from NY to LA, fed an unbroken diet of pop radio, which at the time seemed to revolve around endless repetitions of 'Easy' by the Commodores, 'Nobody does it better' by Carly Simon, and the disco version of the 'Star Wars' theme. Suddenly, towards the end of the holiday, stations started playing 'I wouldn't want to be like you', and it was both a relief and a joy to discover that APP had cut a second album and made a decent single. I just had to buy the LP as soon as I returned to Britain.
This album is rather more consistent than its predecessor. Gone as vocalists are Arthur Brown and John Miles, but in their place are a strong team headed by Lenny Zakatek and a remarkably ego-free Steve Harley.
In summary, the only thing preventing this from being a 5-star rating is that it's not remastered. Strongly recommended nevertheless -- you'll be surprised how many tunes you remember! This team will only have achieved the long-term recognition they deserve as pop composers when a student on Fame Academy chooses to sing 'Some Other Time'!
on 7 February 2011
It is easy to see why The Alan Parsons Project took off in America, the sound is very slick with songs that are easy to sing along to and stay in your head for quite a while after a listenning, especially I Wouldn't Want to be Like You. Steve Harley contributes for the fine song: The Voice and is probably among his best work (seeing as how he irritates me the rest of the time), but where the album comes alive is the instrumental tracks, which after the cheese of Day After Day (weakest track on the album) tunes like Nucleus, Total Eclipse and Genesis Chp 1. V.32 are excellent.
Where I think this album really benefits is from the extra tracks that have been added in the remastering, especially The Naked Robot which is a blending of several of the backing tracks into one 10 minute track. It is really good and worth buying the album just for that.
As prog rock goes, Alan Parsons Project were a little tame, not the edge of Yes, Jethro Tull, ELP or early Genesis, but if you like well produced and crafted music, they bare easy to listen to.
on 21 May 2015
From the first arpeggios in I, Robot to the suspiciously "Let it Go" echo of Don't Let It Show - there's an Alan Parsons fan in Disney somewhere - this is wonderful, delicious, diverse prog-rock at its best. A journey across genres and styles, whether orchestral or electronic floats your boat, immerse yourself.
on 12 December 2013
Always like Alan Parsons work and bought many of their ASlbums.This and the excellent Pyramid are my two personal favourites and although far more melodic than the newer edged prog of say Riverside I do feel quality songs and writing still stand the test of time Try it for yourself and see
on 29 November 2013
Great album bought the original on Vinyl years ago so I had to get this for my digital collection. I personally could do without all the extra tracks but for true aficionados then I suppose this renews the experience.
on 9 April 2014
The old saying goes that they don't make records like this any more and in my view they don't....This is an outstanding album from the Project.....full of great tracks both vocally and instrumentally....It's just fall short of the classic 'A Turn Of A Friendly Card' but it runs it very close to being the best album APP ever made......highly recommended and at such a great price