- An outstanding early UK pressing of I Robot with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
- The overall sound is clean, clear and transparent – many copies tend to be overly smooth, but this one has the kind of clarity that allows the natural textures of the instruments to come through
- 4 1/2 stars: “. . . that sense of melody when married to the artistic restlessness and geeky sensibility makes for a unique, compelling album and the one record that truly captures mind and spirit of the Alan Parsons Project.”
If you’re a fan of this album who has been playing a typical copy, or — even worse — one of the MoFi versions, you are sure to be impressed with the kind of sound this superb copy delivers. You get a strong, solid bottom end setting the foundation, which is exactly what you need to make a funky tune like I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You come to life.
This vintage Arista pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the Best Sides of I Robot Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1977
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
We put both the standard MoFi pressing and the UHQR version in our Hall Of Shame back in the day, two more phony sounding “audiophile” records to add to the very long list of bad Half-Speeds that impressed most audiophiles back in the day (not us I hasten to add).
The MoFi is a textbook example of their ridiculous affinity for boosted top end, not to mention the extra kick they put in the kick drum, great for mid-fi but a serious distraction on a high-end system with proper low end reproduction.
Even the UHQR sucks. Don’t kid yourself. They’re still mastered by Stan Ricker, and he likes plenty of top-end. As the old saying goes, if it’s worth doing it’s worth overdoing.
What We’re Listening For on I Robot
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You
Some Other Time
Don’t Let It Show
Day After Day (The Show Must Go On)
Genesis Ch.1 V.32
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Alan Parsons delivered a detailed blueprint for his Project on their 1975 debut, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, but it was on its 1977 follow-up, I Robot, that the outfit reached its true potential. Borrowing not just its title but concept from Isaac Asimov’s classic sci-fi Robot trilogy, this album explores many of the philosophies regarding artificial intelligence — will it overtake man, what does it mean to be man, what responsibilities do mechanical beings have to their creators, and so on and so forth — with enough knotty intelligence to make it a seminal text of late-’70s geeks, and while it is also true that appreciating I Robot does require a love of either sci-fi or art rock, it is also true that sci-fi art rock never came any better than this. Compare it to Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds, released just a year after this and demonstrating some clear influence from Parsons: that flirts voraciously with camp, but this, for all of its pomp and circumstance, for all of its overblown arrangements, this is music that’s played deadly serious.
Even when the vocal choirs pile up at the end of “Breakdown” or when the Project delves into some tight, glossy white funk on “The Voice,” complete with punctuations from robotic voices and whining slide guitars, there isn’t much sense of fun, but there is a sense of mystery and a sense of drama that can be very absorbing if you’re prepared to give yourself over to it. The most fascinating thing about the album is that the music is restless, shifting from mood to mood within the course of a song, but unlike some art pop there is attention paid to hooks — most notably, of course, on the hit “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You,” a tense, paranoid neo-disco rocker that was the APP’s breakthrough. It’s also the closest thing to a concise pop song here — other tunes have plenty of hooks, but they change their tempo and feel quickly, which is what makes this an art rock album instead of a pop album. And while that may not snare in listeners who love the hit (they should turn to Eye in the Sky instead, the Project’s one true pop album), that sense of melody when married to the artistic restlessness and geeky sensibility makes for a unique, compelling album and the one record that truly captures mind and spirit of the Alan Parsons Project.