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Music / I, Robot

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I don't care what you do, I wouldn't want to be like you.

"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 liner notes
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I Robot is a 1977 album by The Alan Parsons Project, the second album in their catalogue. As implied by the title it's loosely inspired by the Science Fiction novels I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. The band also spoke with the author, who was enthusiastic about the idea, but since the rights of the story had been granted to a TV/film company all to direct references to the novels were eventually removed from the album, including the title which was subtly changed from I, Robot to I Robot.

The album is best remembered for the epic instrumental track "I Robot" and the songs "Breakdown", "Some Other Time", "Don't Let It Show" and "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You".

Side One

  1. "I Robot" (6:02)
  2. "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You" (3:22)
  3. "Some Other Time" (4:06)
  4. "Breakdown" (3:50)
  5. "Don't Let It Show" (4:24)

Side Two

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  1. "The Voice" (5:24)
  2. "Nucleus" (3:31)
  3. "Day After Day (The Show Must Go On)" (3:49)
  4. "Total Eclipse" (3:09)
  5. "Genesis Ch. 1. V32" (3:28)

Personnel

  • Lenny Zakatek, Allan Clarke, Steve Harley, Jack Harris, Peter Straker, Jaki Whitren, Steve Davies and Dave Townsend: vocals
  • David Paton: bass, acoustic guitars
  • Stuart Tosh: drums, percussion
  • Ian Bairnson: electric and acoustic guitars
  • Eric Woolfson, Alan Parsons, Duncan Mackay: keyboards
  • B.J. Cole: steel guitar
  • John Leach: cimbalom and kantele

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I Wouldn't Want To Trope Like You

  • Artificial Intelligence: The robot is intelligent enough to wish he didn't have a human mind, as implied in "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You"
    If I had a mind to
    I wouldn't want to think like you.
    And if I had time to
    I wouldn't want to talk to you.
    I don't care what you do,
    I wouldn't want to be like you.
  • Artistic License – Religion: Deliberately invoked. As noted below, "Genesis, Ch. 1 v32" is an instrumental invocation of what happens after Genesis Chapter 1.
  • As the Good Book Says...: "Genesis, Ch. 1 v32", is inspired by the Book of Genesis, which only has 31 verses.
  • Concept Album: The album is based on Isaac Asimov's I, Robot, but follows a more general theme too about the relationship between man and robot.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover, designed by Hipgnosis, shows the band members at the Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris, with a superimposed image of a robot (drawn by Hipgnosis' frequent collaborator George Hardie). The escalators still exist, but you won't necessarily see them if you go through the airport; they're part of Terminal 1, which used to be the whole airport but is now something of a backwater, only operating flights for airlines not connected to Air France. It's rather a weird experience, whether or not you've seen the I Robot cover art.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "I Robot", which slowly comes fading in and evolves into an epic robotic sound accompanied by an ethereal choir.
  • Ethereal Choir: Halfway between "I Robot" and "Breakdown" a heavenly choir starts singing. A more haunting chant accompanies "Total Eclipse".
  • Face on the Cover: The band is seen on the cover, but from a far distance.
  • Instrumental: "I Robot", "Nucleus", "Total Eclipse" and "Genesis Ch. 1 V.32"
  • "I Want" Song: Averted with "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You".
  • Machine Monotone: The robotic sounds of "I Robot".
  • Neo Classical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: "Don't Let It Show" is played on a pipe organ.
  • One-Word Title: "Breakdown" and "Nucleus".
  • Properly Paranoid: "The Voice"
    Jumping at shadows that come up from behind
    Scared of the darkness that's there in your mind
    You're frightened to move because of what you might find
    Someone is watching you... (he's gonna get you)
  • Retraux: A lot of past-meets-future-type-tropes, just from the cover. There's the retro-futuristic-looking robot, but also 1950s fashions for the men on the escalators (fedoras and suits), and the escalators are very clearly those of Charles de Gaulle Airport in Parisnote  which was designed in the late 1960s and didn't open until 1974 (i.e. long after fedoras were out of style).
  • Robo Speak: The title track seems to mimick this, without actually pronouncing words.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "Breakdown"
    I breakdown in the middle and lose my thread
    No one can understand a word that I say
    When I breakdown just a little and lose my head
    Nothing I try to do can work the same way
  • Shout-Out:
    Any time it happened, I'd get over it
    With a little help from all my friends
  • Title Track: "I Robot".
  • Turned Against Their Masters: See the page quote.

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