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The Alan Parsons Project - I Robot CD (album) cover


The Alan Parsons Project


Crossover Prog

3.79 | 509 ratings

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4 stars On "I Robot", APP's tribute to Isaac Asimov's great prescient work, the rough edges of the debut album are largely smoothed out. This is a much slicker effort that fits snugly in the late 1970s even as punk hammered away at anything remotely establishment. On the surface, one might cry "sell out" and move on to the next new thing, but "I Robot" is triumphant on so many fronts that it succeeds in partly overshadowing its predecessor.

Back in the old LP days, side 1 was as nearly flawless as 5 tracks could be. Beginning with the engaging instrumental title cut, it shows virtually every facet of the Project, and is notable for several stunning tracks, in particularly the back to back impact of "Some Other Time", with a reflective beginning, slow and fitful buildup to its masterful climax, and "Breakdown", where Alan Clarke simply gives himself over to forces beyond his control, played by the ominous choir. On the surface, these are just 2 well crafted pop songs, but beneath lie layers of sensitivity and complexity.

On Side 2 the inspiration flags somewhat, although "The Voice" is the quintessential vocoder song, in which singer and instrument meld in a way that would have left Peter Frampton writhing on the floor. It's atmospheric and haunting, with a beat to boot. "Day After Day" is a decent Floydian styled ballad. Elsewhere, the instrumentals come off mostly as halfhearted spacey forays, the best of these being the closer. Nothing as seminal as "Fall of the House of Usher" here.

While not as generally consistent as "Tales of Mystery..", "I Robot" hits some highs for accessible progressive rock that made it the record du jour in 1977, and a deserving commercial windfall for APP. Leagues ahead of the superficial claptrap of QUEEN and ELO, it was also more humanist, dystopian themes notwithstanding.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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