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The Popstream: The Alan Parsons Project, "I Wouldn't Want to Be Like You"

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pictured: The Alan Parsons Project (cf. H. J. Simpson); photograph by andyc20050

So, 1977: it's the year that critics everywhere officially and finally christened punk the savior of rock music and the default counterculture for anyone who even considered rebelling against something, which means that maybe it is not the most hospitable environment for the man who engineered Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon to record a concept record. Yet Parsons' I Robot -- a carefully-constructed, studio-shiny concept album about the nature of being and consciousness in relation to the polarized relationship between nature and civilization, as interpreted through the poetry of William Blake robots -- did pretty well for itself. Sure, most critics of the time thought it was schlock, but tracks from this album have been sampled by both Divine Styler (the title track in "Make It Plain") and DJ Shadow ("Nucleus" in "What Does Your Soul Look Like, Pt. 1"), so there: I have just proven it is a good album. Now, on to the clip.

Parsons was also prescient when it came to the impact of promotional, vaguely plot-driven mini-films, since this clip predates the music industry's mandatory and deliberate marketing to MTV by a few years. I'd like to think that Alan could've been a bit more prescient and realized that a television network devoted entirely to music videos would be more likely to feature a clip if its special effects were a bit better -- maybe not just have the robot blink out of existence in that cheap "stop the camera, stand still and get the guy in the costume out of here" effect, and also maybe make the robot costume something more detailed than a dude in Ray-Bans with chalk-dusted pantyhose over his head. Still, you get some old-school UNIVAC computer porn for nostalgic tech geeks, some nifty shots of '70s-chic Brutalist concrete architecture, and a perfectly good "top this, Bee Gees" piece of disco pop.

 

WARNING: this video contains graphic depictions of neckbeards and acts of mindless robot-perpetrated vandalism. Viewer discretion is advised.

 

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