The Alan Parsons Project I Robot on 180g Import LP
Following the success of 1976's Tales of Mystery and Imagination: Edgar Allan Poe, the Alan Parsons Project came to the attention of Arista Records founder and president Clive Davis. He traveled to London to personally sign the group in Arista's third year of existence. Having devoted themselves to the works of Poe, Alan Parsons and his partner Eric Woolfson next turned their attention to the writings of science fiction great Isaac Asimov. The inspiration was I Robot, Asimov's 1950 book of short stories.
As they had done before on Tales..., for 1977's I Robot the APP took the unusual route of utilizing various guest lead singers to suit each composition, artists who were relatively well-known but not superstars out of the producers' reach. These guest vocalists included Lenny Zakatek of Gonzalez (on "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You"); Jaki Whitren (on "Some Other Time"); Allan Clarke of the Hollies (on "Breakdown"); Dave Townsend (on "Don't Let It Show"); Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel (on "The Voice"); and so on.
Principal musicians on I Robot comprised Pilot band members Ian Bairnson (guitars), David Paton (bass), and Stuart Tosh (drums), with Woolfson taking over for Pilot keyboardist Billy Lyall. The album employed many technical advances, such as the EMS Synthi-A 'suitcase' synth sequencer (heard on Dark Side Of The Moon), a portable electronic pipe organ, an analogue keyboard instrument called the Projectron (predecessor to '80s digital samplers), and more.
To its extreme benefit, I Robot was released just weeks after the Memorial Day holiday opening of the first Star Wars movie. It did not hurt one bit that the original LP cover's depiction of a robot – probably the only robot seen on the racks at the time! – caught the first wave of R2-D2 and C-3PO mania that summer. The album rose to #9 on the Billboard chart, hit RIAA gold in September, and platinum one year later. In many ways, the production of I Robot also set the stage for the next decade of landmark album recordings by the Alan Parsons Project.
"I have a fond memory," Parsons recalls, "of going to see the movie [Star Wars] during a promotional trip to Chicago for the album with our good friend at the label, Dennis Fine, who ran Arista's publicity department. The buzz for the movie was at its height and I remember hearing the loud and enthusiastic cheers of the crowd from inside the theatre at the end of the previous screening. It was clear that our timing was impeccable − there was a whole new generation of Sci-Fi lovers. I was right there with them − Star Wars is still in my top three all-time movies. I know it was a big favourite of Eric's too."
The Alan Parsons Project I Robot Track Listing:
1. I Robot
2. I Wouldn't Want to be Like You
3. Some Other Time
5. Don't Let It Show
6. The Voice
8. Day After Day (The Show Must Go On)
9. Total Eclipse
10. Genesis Ch.1. V.32