The Alan Parsons Project – I Robot (1977)

FrontCover1Robot is the second studio album by the British progressive rock band The Alan Parsons Project, released on 1 June 1977 by Arista Records. The album draws conceptually on author Isaac Asimov’s science fiction Robot trilogy, exploring philosophical themes regarding artificial intelligence.

The album was intended to be based on the I, Robot stories written by Asimov, and Eric Woolfson spoke with Asimov himself, who was enthusiastic about the idea. As the rights already had been granted to a TV/movie company, the album’s title was altered slightly by removing the comma in “I,”, and the theme and lyrics were made to be more generically about robots rather than to be specific to the Asimov universe.[3][4] The cover inlay read: “I Robot… The story of the rise of the machine and the decline of man, which paradoxically coincided with his discovery of the wheel… and a warning that his brief dominance of this planet will probably end, because man tried to create robot in his own image.” The title of the final track, “Genesis Ch.1 v.32”, follows this theme by implying a continuation to the story of Creation, since the first chapter of Genesis only has 31 verses.


The album cover photo features the band members in the escalator tubes of the circular Terminal 1 building of the Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris. Over this is superimposed a painting of a robot with a stylised atom for a brain. This illustration appears in a two-dimensional form on the label of the record. The original vinyl release had a gatefold-style cover; the inside spread had printed the lyrics for the non-instrumental selections and a monochrome photograph of Parsons himself.

Three singles were released from the album: “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” went into heavy rotation on AOR stations and continues to be played on classic rock radio.

“Don’t Let It Show” was covered by Pat Benatar for her In the Heat of the Night LP. Gail Godwin describes it as “much more sentimental than the usual Alan Parsons”. “Some Other Time” was also covered by Arjen Anthony Lucassen in his 2012 album Lost in the New Real. “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” is featured in the 2013 video game Grand Theft Auto V on the fictional radio station Los Santos Rock Radio. “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” is also featured in an episode of the Netflix series Mindhunter. (by wikipedia)


Alan Parsons delivered a detailed blueprint for his Project on their 1975 debut, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, but it was on its 1977 follow-up, I Robot, that the outfit reached its true potential. Borrowing not just its title but concept from Isaac Asimov’s classic sci-fi Robot trilogy, this album 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, and so on and so forth — with enough knotty intelligence to make it a seminal text of late-’70s geeks, and while it is also true that appreciating I Robot does require a love of either sci-fi or art rock, it is also true that sci-fi art rock never came any better than this. Compare it to Jeff Wayne’s War of the ArticleWorlds, released just a year after this and demonstrating some clear influence from Parsons: that flirts voraciously with camp, but this, for all of its pomp and circumstance, for all of its overblown arrangements, this is music that’s played deadly serious. Even when the vocal choirs pile up at the end of “Breakdown” or when the Project delves into some tight, glossy white funk on “The Voice,” complete with punctuations from robotic voices and whining slide guitars, there isn’t much sense of fun, but there is a sense of mystery and a sense of drama that can be very absorbing if you’re prepared to give yourself over to it. The most fascinating thing about the album is that the music is restless, shifting from mood to mood within the course of a song, but unlike some art pop there is attention paid to hooks — most notably, of course, on the hit “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You,” a tense, paranoid neo-disco rocker that was the APP’s breakthrough. It’s also the closest thing to a concise pop song here — other tunes have plenty of hooks, but they change their tempo and feel quickly, which is what makes this an art rock album instead of a pop album. And while that may not snare in listeners who love the hit (they should turn to Eye in the Sky instead, the Project’s one true pop album), that sense of melody when married to the artistic restlessness and geeky sensibility makes for a unique, compelling album and the one record that truly captures mind and spirit of the Alan Parsons Project. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)


Ian Bairnson (guitar)
B.J. Cole (steel guitar)
John Leach (cimbalom, kantele)
Duncan Mackay (keyboards)
Alan Parsons (keyboards)
David Paton (bass, guitar)
Stuart Tosh (drums, percussion)
Eric Woolfson (keyboards)
Allan Clarke (on 04.)
Steve Harley (on 06.)
Jack Harris (on 08.)
Peter Straker & Jaki Whitren (on 03.)
Dave Townsend (vocals on 05.)
Lenny Zakatek (on 02.)
background vocals on 03.:

Tony Rivers – John Perry – Stu Calver.


01. I Robot (Parsons/Woolfson) 6.02
02. I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You (Parsons/Woolfson) 3.22
03. Some Other Time  (Parsons/Woolfson) 4.06
04. Breakdown (Parsons/Woolfson)  3:50
05. Don’t Let It Show (Parsons/Woolfson)  4.24
06. The Voice (Parsons/Woolfson) 5.24
07. Nucleus (Parsons/Woolfson) 3.31
08. Day After Day (The Show Must Go On) ( Parsons/Woolfson)  3:49
09. Total Eclipse (Powell) 3.09
10. Genesis Ch.1 V.32 (Parsons/Woolfson) 3.28
11. Boules (I Robot experiment) (Parsons/Woolfson) 1.59
12. Breakdown (early demo of backing riff) (Parsons/Woolfson) 2.09
13. I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You (backing track rough mix) (Parsons/Woolfson) 3.28
14. Day After Day (early stage rough mix) (Parsons/Woolfson) 3.40
15. The Naked Robot (Parsons/Woolfson) 10.19