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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Alan Parsons

Project – I Robot

Review by Gary Hill

This was the second album from The Alan Parsons Project. The intent was to base it on Sir Isaac Asimov’s “I, Robot." Asimov was on board, but the rights to the book were tied up in contracts. So, Parsons opted to remove the comma in the title and make it a more general album about robots. It’s really a great disc, no matter the background, though. It should be noted that I reviewed a couple of these songs before on a best of album review. For the sake of consistency, those song reviews have been copied or adapted for use here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
I Robot

This rises up very gradually from pure atmospherics. Some operatic voices are heard over the top of the arrangement as this builds. A rhythm sections enters to carry it forward. Then some great musical changes are heard as this becomes much more of a pure prog rocker in the Parsons tradition. Some different voices come over the top later. This instrumental is classic Parsons, really.

I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You
With a dramatic and mysterious opening segment this rocks out quite well as it gets going. I think you could think of it as a more soulful Pink Floyd in a lot of ways. The guitar solo on this is especially tasty.
Some Other Time
This starts as a pretty ballad. It builds out from there into with section of symphonic bombast to punctuate the first, understated verse. It drops back down for the start of the second verse. It works out from there quite quickly into a more powered up AOR styled melodic prog sound. There are bits of guitar on this that make me think of George Harrison. It drops way down again after that powered up section, though. Then more symphonic elements herald the return of more powered up sounds for a short time. It drops back down for more of those understated vocals before we get back to the rocking vocal section.
Breakdown
The rhythm section leads this off with a great bass line. The cut powers up quickly from that. This is actually one of my all-time favorites from the Alan Parsons Project. There are a number of shifts and changes here. Parts of this are more symphonic. Parts rock, while others are a bit mellower. It really gets into some powerful stuff when the chorale vocals enter later. We get some serious symphonic bombast in that section, too.
Don't Let It Show
A dramatic ballad, this is a great song. It is another of my favorites from Parsons. It’s quite mellow, but also very emotional and powerful.
The Voice
I’ve always loved the bass line on this track, too. It’s simple, but driving, and it has a great sound. The keyboard elements that come over the top are playful, but also very cool. The vocal sections are cool, particularly with the robot-like voice added into the mix. The whole piece is great, too. It works out into an almost disco type section mid-track. It’s very much like something ELO might do in some ways. It has a cool funky bass line. Some radio traffic segues this into the next piece.
Nucleus
Continuing with the radio traffic from the end of the last number, some textural elements rise up and ebb and flow like waves hitting a beach and receding. This instrumental is really built on surges which get more insistent, over the top of drumming that comes up after a while.
Day After Day (The Show Must Go On)
The waves of sound from the previous piece start this off, but it quickly shifts gears to a different, dreamy, mellow arrangement. The vocals bring a psychedelic vibe that seems to combine Pink Floyd and The Beatles. This is a pretty song that has some great textures and hooks. It’s mellow, but also compelling.
Total Eclipse
This is the strangest piece here. It has weird, operatic type vocals, more like instrumentation than anything else. It reminds me a lot of something from the soundtrack to “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Genesis Ch. 1. V. 32
Another instrumental, this is a powerful piece of symphonic progressive rock. It has some great vocals used as instrumentation and some wonderful textures and overtones.

 

 
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