Alan Parsons Project's I Robot: Legacy Edition Celebrates 35 Years Of A Rock Album Classic
Sony Music Entertainment - 07/15/2013
NEW YORK, July 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The art of the concept album, as developed and refined by the Alan Parsons Project over the course of their 10 albums released between 1976 and 1987, is celebrated with the release of I Robot: Legacy Edition (35th Anniversary). The title arrives in stores September 17, 2013 on Arista/Legacy, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. Pre-order now at http://smarturl.it/irobot_amzn.
The first CD of this commemorative package will comprise a newly remastered version of the APP's first classic RIAA-platinum Arista album, which has generated multi-platinum worldwide sales, and included the U.S. Top 40 single, "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You." The second CD features 14 tracks of bonus tracks from the Sony Music archives, nine of which are previously unreleased.
The release follows up tour dates by Parsons through Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, and Austria, running from July 19th through August 6th. (Please see all tour dates below.)
The production of I Robot: Legacy Edition (35th Anniversary) has been personally overseen by Alan Parsons and Sally Woolfson, the daughter of APP songwriter, manager, lead singer and musician, the late Eric Woolfson (1945-2009). The accompanying 20-page booklet will include a new liner notes essay by Alan Parsons, plus the lyrics as published in the original LP, rare archival photography, and other memorabilia.
I Robot: Legacy Edition (35th Anniversary) is also the prelude to the early 2014 release of The Alan Parsons Project Complete Album Collection. This upcoming 11-CD package marks the first time that all 10 of the original albums by the APP have been issued together in a box set, including the 1976 debut, Tales of Mystery and Imagination: Edgar Allan Poe (from 20th Century/Mercury/Universal). The 11th CD, The Sicilian Defence, was originally intended as the fourth Arista LP, circa 1979-80, but went unreleased (and unheard) until this box set appearance.
Parsons and Woolfson met in the mid-1970s at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London where Parsons had been employed since the end of the '60s as an assistant engineer when the Beatles recorded Let It Be and Abbey Road. Parsons went on to become renowned as the engineer on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon, and became a successful producer working with Cockney Rebel, Pilot, Al Stewart, John Miles, Ambrosia, and others.
Woolfson was a talented Glasgow-based composer who had been recruited by Andrew Loog Oldham in London. It is ingrained in rock history that Oldham sent Woolfson into a room with a piano, and told him not to come out until he'd written a song for every artist in the Top 10. Woolfson did exactly that, and went on to amass credits for hits by Marianne Faithfull, the Tremeloes, Marmalade and many others. Woolfson would go on to become principal songwriter and lyricist (and often keyboard player and lead vocalist) for the Alan Parsons Project, as well as acting as Manager. When the group had run its course he moved on to a career in musical theatre around the world.
But when they initially met, Parsons had asked Woolfson to manage his budding new career as a producer, and Woolfson agreed. He then shared with Parsons his research into the works of Edgar Allen Poe. Parsons' engineering and production skills complemented Woolfson's lyrical depth, and he submitted the outline of a 'project' to 20th Century Records in the U.S. The office staff informally began to refer to the so-called 'Alan Parsons Project.' The name stuck (destined for revival in 1999 as the name of Doctor Evil's laser in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me).
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, Woolfson and Parsons 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. The book was optioned to a television/film company, hence the deletion of the copyrighted comma in the APP's title. Nonetheless, Asimov encouraged the musicians with their concept. The album, as the new liner notes explain, "to some extent looks at the questions and the extent to which, as human beings, we may or may not be pre-programmed and act in a robotic fashion, as well as the dangers of uncontrolled development of artificial intelligence."
As they had done before on Tales..., for 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 (who had become terminally ill). 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.
The bonus tracks on the second disc of I Robot: Legacy Edition (35th Anniversary) include such exotica as the sounds of the French version of metal pool balls on "Boules (I Robot Experiment)." An early demo of a slower backing riff for "Breakdown" is heard, as well as a backing track rough mix of "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You," before Ian Bairnson's explosive guitar solo was added. Another early stage rough mix is unearthed for "Day After Day." Finally, "The Naked Robot" is a ten-minute medley of early stage mixes of instrumental pieces on the album.
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 in his liner notes, "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."
I Robot: Legacy Edition (35th Anniversary)
(Arista/Legacy 88883 71865 2)
CD One: (original album issued July 1977, as Arista 4180) Selections: 1. I Robot (2nd single B-side) • 2. I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You (1st single, Hot 100 #36) • 3. Some Other Time • 4. Breakdown • 5. Don't Let It Show (2nd single, Hot 100 #92) • 6. The Voice • 7. Nucleus (1st single B-side) • 8. Day After Day (The Show Must Go On) • 9. Total Eclipse • 10. Genesis Ch.1 V.32.
CD Two: (bonus material) Selections: 1. U.S Radio Commercial for I Robot • 2. Boules (I Robot Experiment) • 3. Hilary Western Soprano Vocal Rehearsal • 4. Extract 1 from The Alan Parsons Project Audio Guide • 5. Extract 2 from The Alan Parsons Project Audio Guide • 6. I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You (Backing Track Rough Mix) • 7. Some Other Time - Complete vocal by Jaki Whitren • 8. Breakdown (Early demo of backing riff) • 9. Extract 3 from The Alan Parsons Project Audio Guide • 10. Breakdown - The Choir • 11. Don't Let It Show (Eric Woolfson demo) • 12. Day After Day (Early Stage Rough Mix) • 13. Genesis Ch. 1 V. 32 - Choir Session • 14. The Naked Robot. (All tracks previously unreleased except tracks 2, 6, 8, 12, and 14.)
Alan Parsons tour dates (go to http://www.alanparsonsmusic.com/):
July 19, 2013 Gruliasco, Italy - GruVillage
July 20, 2013 Verona, Italy - Castello Scaligero
July 23, 2013 Roma, Italy - Campo Centrale
July 26, 2013 Seebronn, Germany - Rock of Ages Festival
July 28, 2013 Beaufort, Luxembourg - Chateau Beaufort
July 30, 2013 Cologne, Germany - Musical Dome
July 31, 2013 Leipzig, Germany - Haus Auensee
August 2, 2013 Bad Krozingen, Germany - Open Air Festival
August 3, 2013 Salzburg, Austria - Congresszentrum
August 4, 2013 Worthersee-Bühne, Austria - Open Air
August 6, 2013 Erlangen, Germany - BD Radltour
SOURCE Legacy Recordings