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

I ROBOT

The Alan Parsons Project

 

Crossover Prog

3.81 | 570 ratings

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TCat
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars I Robot is Alan Parsons Project's 2nd album. Like their first album, I Robot was originally going to be based around the stories of another famous author, this time being Isaac Asimov. That's how it was conceived originally at least. Asimov was even going to be a part of the album, reading certain selections throughout the album. The songs were going to be based upon scenes from the series. Asimov was actually quite excited about participating. However, that plan unfortunately got squashed. Whether it was Parsons or the record label that discouraged that idea is unclear. What we ended up with instead is a loosely based concept with songs about robots in general, not the sci-fi universe of Asimov. This is really too bad because we probably would have ended up with an amazing album like their debut album "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" was.

However, the end result was still pretty good. Yes the prog ended up being quite lite compared to the previous album, but it still managed to be excellently produced with a pristine sound and a good variety of songs. The things that did stay consistent with their debut album is that the songs were sung by several different vocalists (this, of course, would be the usual formula for The APP), there were a couple of instrumental tracks, and the music was high quality. Yet, the album would also feature more accessible music and no epic tracks. There would be a more minimal use of orchestra this time, but there would also be more use of two chorale style groups.

"I Robot" is one of the band's best instrumentals and utilizes The English Chorale to give it an effectively sweeping sound. It does somewhat harken back to the atmospheric feel of "The Raven" from the debut album. This is followed with a somewhat mediocre track "I Wouldn't Want to Be Like You" which was released as a single, but "Some Other Time" is a bit better and also reflects the sound that fans would fall in love with, a slower ballad with a nice symphonic feel. Even though "Breakdown" wasn't released as a single, it still managed to become the most famous song on the album, and rightfully so as it is a heavier rocker, though it doesn't approach the heaviness of "Dr Tarr & Professor Feather" from the previous album. The use of the choir at the end of "Breakdown" is an excellent touch and really helps with the final payoff of the track. "Don't Let it Show" is a nice ballad, but feels a bit schmaltzy, but it's still nice to hear once in a while.

"The Voice" is another of the best tracks on the album, and probably the closest thing to a progressive rock track on the album with the dark feel during the verses and the sudden change in tempo and meter with the addition of orchestra in the rousing middle section. "Nucleus" is a nice, atmospheric and mostly electronic instrumental that sounds a bit futuristic. "Day After Day (The Show Must Go On)" is a much more satisfying ballad which might remind you a bit of the band's big hit "Time" that would come a few years later. That segues into the most experimental track on the album "Total Eclipse" which is a thick, dark and dissonant wordless chorale piece with orchestra done again by The English Chorale. This one is very spooky and almost disturbing with it's strong dissonant sung chords and ominous orchestra and tense atmosphere. This finally resolves into the lovely (mostly) instrumental epilogue "Genesis Ch. 1 V. 32" which ends with a melodic theme accented by The New Philharmonia Chorus and ends the album with a nice, yet satisfying ending.

This album wins more because of the production and the overall layout of the tracks and the presentation of the material. Yes, it might not be strong with the progressive aspect, but it is still a favorite of mine. The album would end up inspiring other bands to explore art-pop. It would also be a template for many APP albums to come. In the end, you can hear the quality of the production that also has some echoes of "Dark Side of the Moon" which Parsons helped with earlier. This is still an album that I consider essential at least for my own record collection even if it doesn't reach the heights of the projects first album.

TCat | 4/5 |

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