Thursday, 31 July 2014

Robot Man : Connie Francis

Olden goldies, golden oldies, olden goolies... whatever you want to call them, they take some beating! This B-side from Connie Francis' 1960 single Mama went down well with fans, but Robot Man didn't go down quite so well with the singer. In an interview Connie Francis is quoted as saying:
I thought it was the dumbest song I ever recorded. [sings] "I'd just have to wind him with a Robot key ... I'd have a steady date seven nights a week, and he would never cheat, 'cause it would be impossible for him to see." ...What a dumb song!
It is kind of dumb but most pop music is, and Stupid Cupid can hardly claim the intellectual high ground here. Like it or not, Robot Man evokes a number of 1950s clichés, from doe eyed girls in voluminous petticoats to those menacing yet maudlin movie robots. It could do without the squawking backing singers, but maybe they too are part of Robot Man's charm.

This is not to be confused with Robot Man by the Scorpions, or Robot Man by The Aliens, or even Robot Man by The Vindictives (which is a Scorpions cover). The Gymslips did however do a cover of Connie Francis' Robot Man, and the song also features in the comedy/musical, or 'comical'... (no that doesn't work) ... the musical comedy, Return to the Forbidden Planet.  I think Robot Man is an absolute cracker of a robot song. But what about you lot?  Leave a comment and/or cast your vote to secure or deny Robot Man a place in the top 101 Songs About Robots.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

I'm Seein' Robots : Kool Keith

There's a bit of a pattern going on here (apart from the obvious one)... Jerry Butler attempts to sweet talk a lover by proposing to be her mechanical man if she simply 'turns him on' (ooh yeah baby), David Zed seems convinced that he is a robot, Marina Diamandis makes it perfectly clear that she isn't a robot, and Sheila Ward claims she owns a robot, so it should come as no surprise that Kool Keith appears to be seeing robots... passing him by, everyday!

I'm Seein' Robots is taken from the 1999 LP 'Lost in Space' and the first to be recorded under the alias Black Elvis... however it didn't perform too well and Keith blamed this on his label not being pro-active enough in promoting the album. Maybe if he'd chosen not to adopt the wank-tastic 'Black Elvis' alias, things might have been better. After all he could have chosen one of his many other aliases which include Dr Octagon, Dr Dooom, Dr Ultra or maybe even Poppa Large... or just stuck with Kool Keith, a name that in my mind, fits his talent and lyrical prowess perfectly.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

I've Got A Robot : Sheila Margaret Ward

Whilst David Zed thinks he is a robot and Marina Diamandis is certain she's not a robot, Sheila Margaret Ward has got a robot, and she's making a real song and dance about it!  A cracking little song here, perfect for kids of all ages (even my age) and an essential addition to any robot party playlist.

I'm going by the details on YouTube to put a year to this song, but Sheila, please correct me if I'm wrong.  :)

Monday, 28 July 2014

I Am Not A Robot : Marina & The Diamonds

Whilst David Zed seems pretty damn certain that he is a robot, Marina Diamandis appears to be fairly confident that she's not a robot. Better known under the moniker Marina and the Diamonds, this Welsh singer/songwriter first released the video for I Am Not A Robot on YouTube in 2009, followed by the official single release in early 2010 where it peaked at number 26 in the UK singles chart. My only problem with this song is that it repeatedly states 'I am not a robot' which makes me wonder if it qualifies for 101 Songs About Robots at all... either way, here it is.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

I Am A Robot : David Zed

Full time mime artist, part time pop star Davis Zed was something of a one trick pony. Possibly inspired by Carl Douglas' fruitful career performing kung-fu themed songs, David Zed's first single I am a Robot was released in 1980. This was closely followed by his second single, R.O.B.O.T. and his third, Balla Robot, both also released in 1980. One could argue that he over did it a tad, but it was 1980 and being the year the future began, robots were common place. David's fourth single came in 1983, titled Ballarobot is not to be confused with 1980's Balla Robot, which is two words, not one, and therefore is obviously a completely different song... OK, it is the same song... but this was clearly re-recorded after he'd read the instruction manuals for his synthesisers and vocoder (a task which seemingly took three years). I've no idea why I'm waffling on about Balla Robot because today we're going to listen to David Zed's first single, I am a Robot.

Thankfully yesterday's traumatic panic over my hard drive has resolved itself. Typical machine.. after hours of stress trying to suss out what was wrong, it just decided to start working again and won't even give me the credit for fixing it.

And just in case you're wondering...
David Zed's other robot songs will be posted here on 101 Songs About Robots before too long.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

I'm Your Mechanical Man : Jerry Butler

I think I must have invoked Sod's Law in yesterday's post because I seem to have suffered another hard drive failure on my PC, so I'm posting from an ancient laptop and it's painfully slow... so I'll keep it brief.

Today's robot song comes from Jerry Butler. Never heard of him? Neither had I until I started searching for robot songs... and I'm glad I did. He delivers a classic 70s smooth funk groove in his awesome I'm Your Mechanical Man.

I'll sort out the labels and stuff when I'm on a more responsive machine... some days I hate technology.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Everyday Robots : Damon Albarn

When I started thinking about making a compilation titled 101 Songs About Robots, I could think of maybe ten or twelve robot themed songs that included Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by the Flaming Lips, Robot by Hawkwind, The Robots & Man Machine by Kraftwerk, Sy-Borg by Frank Zappa, a handful of songs from Mother Gong's Robot Woman trilogy, Goldie Lookin' Chain's rap-tastic Half Man, Half Machine and of course Black Sabbath's Iron Man.

Then after a lot of digging and searching on Soulseek the list grew to over 250 tracks, but once I'd whittled out the instrumentals (I, Robot - Alan Parsons), the tenuous (Electric Youth - Debbie Gibson) and the songs with a robotesque title but nothing in the lyrics to back it up (Bionic - Placebo)... my big list was quickly whittled down to about 60-70 songs about robots. I'd occasionally do a new search to try to unearth another song or two about robots and each search usually did unearth something... but I still felt I was a long way from my target of 101 'good' songs about robots.

After a couple of years in the doldrums and a catastrophic hard drive failure, the project was well and truly on the back burner. Then I heard Damon Albarn's beautiful and haunting Everyday Robots on the radio earlier this year and was inspired to reboot my search. I only expected to dig up another two or three tracks worthy of inclusion, when all of a sudden my list went from around 75-80 half decent songs about robots back to around the 200 mark in the space of a couple of days! Only this time the list was bang on topic with no instrumentals and nothing too tenuous.  This left me wondering how I was going to whittle the list down to 101 songs about robots as I now have more than enough, and searching the likes of Grooveshark the list is only getting larger.

That's when I decided to do a blog instead of a personal compilation. Not only does this give me an online archive in case I suffer another hard drive failure, but also means others can listen to the archive, rate each song and send me their own suggestions via the comments. I've no plans of stopping when I've posted 101 songs about robots as this is going to be a huge ever growing pulsating blog that rules from the centre of the roboverse!   "But what about the music!?" you may shout. Well, today it's the song that rekindled my love of robot songs: Damon Albarn's Everyday Robots... Mr Albarn, I thank you.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Automatic : Pointer Sisters

Super deep vocals from Ruth Pointer in 1983s Automatic by the Pointer Sisters might have some of you questioning her true gender... but I can assure you she's all robot!  At first I thought Automatic might be a bit too tenuous to include, but a perusal of the lyrics confirmed that the song, just like Ruth, is all robot. It's not the best song the Pointer Sisters have ever recorded or performed, but it's got to be their best robot song.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Robots : Clokworx

A lovely bit of mellow rap-hop (or whatever you kids call it these days), and one of several songs I'll be posting that is simply titled 'Robots' (original eh?). I don't think this is strictly about robots in the traditional mechanical circuits and wires sense of the word, but more about us humans acting like robots... doing what we're told, when we're told, never questioning, never faltering in our obedience... whilst the corporations run the governments and the CIA run the corporations and the Illuminati runs the CIA and the Druids nick into Stonehenge twice a year without paying... it's a conspiracy I tell you!!

But enough of my ramblings... rap-hop rebels Clokworx can explain the whole conspiracy thingy far more eloquently than I.

Regardless of whether you take the conspiracy theory subject matter seriously or not, it's a beautifully crafted piece of work and one of my favourite robot rap-hop songs. However I'm not sure about the date of this track as the YouTube uploaders state it's from their 2002 LP 'Microchips', but a couple of the comments claim it's from 1997. Maybe it took five years for the LP to come out? For the time being I'm going to assume it is from '97, but if anyone can clarify, please let me know.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Criminal Robots : Fingathing

I've been in two minds as to whether this track should be included in 101 Songs About Robots or not. It's mostly an instrumental tune with a robotic sample, which on its own wouldn't normally be enough to qualify as a 'song'. But it's scraped through by the skin of its teeth for two reasons.  1: I've been a fan of Fingathing since I heard Just Practice back in the distant future... the year 2000, so am proud to include them on my blog. 2: The YouTube uploader (youcycloptictube) produced a great accompanying video that works perfectly with the tune, so I'm proud to include their work on my blog too.

It's arguably not really a 'song' about a robot, but it's certainly not the most tenuous robot song that will be found on these pages. Feel free to comment, discuss, rant, argue or be plain abusive as to whether or not Fingathing's Criminal Robots' is an acceptable robot song.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Six Million Dollar Man : Dusty Springfield

Here's an odd little curio... and it's certainly not a high point in the late great Dusty Springfield's career. This ill fated attempt at giving The Six Million Dollar Man a theme song featured in two of the three TV movies which aired in late 1973, a few months prior to the weekly show that had its début in early '74.

As mentioned, it's not exactly one of Dusty's best recordings and not surprisingly, was dropped in favour of the far superior instrumental theme we all know and love. Here it is...

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Fembot : Robyn

Everybody loves a fembot...

...'nuf said. 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

School for Robots : Bruce Haack

Quite possibly my favourite robot song so far is School for Robots by one of the unsung pioneers of electronic music; Bruce Haack. Taken from his 1968 LP, The Way Out Record for Children, this is a dance along song, so listen carefully and move to the music.

This is only one of a number of songs about robots by Bruce Haack that I'll be posting. I could waffle on at length about the man himself and his pioneering work with electronic music, but for those who are interested, here's a wiki link. There's also a DVD documentary called HAACK: The King of Techno, which is well worth a look if you're interested in early electronic music.

Friday, 18 July 2014

If I Only Had a Heart : The Tin Man

Quite possibly the oldest* of all robot songs and celebrating its 75th Anniversary is If I Only Had a Heart from The Wizard of Oz. The pedants out there might argue that the tin man is not a robot, but a mere tin man. However since I've already included the wonderful Country Robot by The Incredible Moses Leroy, then there's got to be a place for Tin Man's If I Only Had a Heart...

*If any readers can point me in the direction of an even older song about a robot, please don't be shy :)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Robots Dance : Classix Nouveaux

How come music from the 80s sounds much more futuristic than modern pop music? Well I guess the simple answer is that the 80s are the future (not 'were'). We may look back and baulk at some of the clothes and hairstyles... and don't forget those shoulder pads!  Fact is, we just weren't ready for the future of fashion in which gender trends collided in resplendent glory. Boys wearing lipstick and blusher should have been a marketing dream for the cosmetics companies, but sadly, the 80 were too far ahead of the times, and still are. What's all that got to do with robots? Not much... but this piece of throbbing gristle from Classix Nouveaux has everything to do with robots... wah ha hah hahahaah!

This live recording is by far the best sounding version of Classix Nouveaux's first single I can find.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Robot Song : Dooby Wop & the Polkadots

It's about time I posted something for the kiddies... because kiddies love playing at robots. This is not the only kid's song I'll be posting, and it's certainly not the best... but it's plenty of fun. Why not cover yourself in tinfoil, stick a colander on your head and dance along... there's no upper age limit!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Eighth Day : Hazel O'Connor

I loved this song when I was a kid, but didn't really pick up on its robotic connection until a couple of weeks ago. Taken from the film Breaking Glass and released in 1980 (the year the future began), the song Eighth Day presents another of those dystopic scenarios in which man makes machine then machine breaks man. However the film itself is not about robots. It's about a pop stars sudden rise to fame and her inability to cope with it. It'll seem quite dated these days I guess but worth a re-watch one day. Anyway, enough about the film and on with the song...

Monday, 14 July 2014

Robot Riot : Frenzy

Right, I think I've got the voting up and running... so if you feel inclined to rate the songs about robots featured in my daily posts, you can. If it's not already blatantly obvious, I'm going to be strict about not including any instrumentals, so unfortunately I won't be posting the wonderful Robot by the twangtastic Tornados. On the upside I won't be posting the durgeful din that is I, Robot by the Alan Parsons' Project either... so it's not all bad!

With that little technicality explained, on with the songs. This little nugget of post-punk packs a lot of punch in three and-a-half minutes. As far as I can tell, Frenzy hail from Bristol down in that the'er west country, and this is their début single from 1984.

Jumpy, punky and a real ear worm, Robot Riot will get any party started, and if this doesn't get your foot tapping, you must've blown a fuse. Either that or you need reprogramming. It's worth noting that this is not the same song as Robot Riot from the Phineas & Ferb cartoon, which will be posted at some point in the future.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Love Machine : The Miracles

What's with all these 'on topic' robot songs?! You may ask. Well, it is a blog dedicated to songs about robots, so what did you expect? But surely there's a place for James Brown's Sex Machine or the Jackson Five's Dancing Machine, maybe even Goldfrapp's Strict Machine... I hear you yell. They're all good tunes and they're all vaguely on topic... and who knows, one day they may all find a place on 101 Songs About Robots!

Ladies and gentlemen, robots and robettes, please put your limbs together for... The Miracles. "Oughoughoughough Yeah!"

I guess there's also a place for Girls Aloud's different song of the same name, Love Machine... but let's save that for another day.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Electric Lady Land : Fantastic Plastic Machine

A wonderful robot song by a wonderful band... in fact Electric Lady Land by the Fantastic Plastic Machine is so good I have to post it twice. First off, we have the Foreign version:

Followed by the English version, which retains the infectious up-tempo easy listening vibe yet allows those of us not programmed to understand Foreign to fully enjoy the song:

Now all we need is a binary version for the older robots.

Friday, 11 July 2014

We're in Business : Andrew Thompson

Anyone reading this blog may well be thinking 'Where's Kraftwerk?', 'No Daft Punk!', 'What about Radiohead?' There's plenty of classic robot songs, and in time they will be posted... but what really makes my day is coming across a little gem like this: (it doesn't even have 'robot' in the title)

Andrew Thompson, whoever you are... thank you! Whilst the robots of Earth are busy listening to The Man Machine, Robot Rock or Paranoid Android, those of us who are programmed to dig a little deeper are blessed with We're in Business; a nightmare vision in which our robot friends aren't quite as friendly as they should be. Remember kids... never trust robots!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Rock 'n' Roll Robot

Two versions of Rock 'n' Roll Robot for your listening pleasure. The first, which I assume is the original is sung almost entirely in Foreign, apart from the words 'rock' and 'roll'... and 'robot' (and of course 'and'). I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise for the cover of the single that features strongly in the 'video'... you might think you're 'eye candy' Alberto, but you're not... in fact, looking at you makes me love the eighties a little bit less. Nice robot song though.

The second is a cover version by Ustmamo', released in 2003*. I know nothing about this band/artist other than the fact they've turned Alberto Camerini's camp pop-lemon into a smooth and slinky slice of synthesised bliss cake. It's even got a nice video too. It'd be handy to know what the lyrics are, but that's my own fault for not paying enough attention in language class.

* This song appears on their 2003 compilation album UstBestMamo and was their final release before the group split. Their version of Rock 'n' Roll Robot may well be earlier than 2003, but I'm yet to find any evidence... please let me know if I've got my facts wrong :)

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Country Robot : The Incredible Moses Leroy

Beautiful song by The Incredible Moses Leroy...

There's very little I can say about this song, and even less about The Incredible Moses Leroy. I discovered it many years ago when I first started putting together a collection of robot themed songs and was instantly hooked. Sung from the perspective of The Tin Man character from The Wizard of Oz, and set seemingly long after the events of the story, Country Robot/A Letter to Dorothy reveals our Tin Man to be lost, empty and melancholic... wondering where his future will take him and reminiscing of a much happier past that shall remain forever lost... the miserable sod!  Cheer up and count your blessings Tin Man!! I don't see The Incredible Moses Leroy writing songs about the scarecrow or the lion, or Dorothy for that matter... and even if he did, I wouldn't be blogging about it!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Robot : Hawkwind

Starting with the mighty Hawkwind from their PXR5 album, released in 1979...

This isn't the official video by the way.

Robot is not the only Hawkwind song that will appear on this blog. Lyrically, Robot comes across as a song that is more of a critique on contemporary culture than pure sci-fi... but then again, who knows?  Musically it's space rock at its best. Dave Brock's edgy guitar, what's 'is face on bass and thingy on drums backing up Bob Calvert's emotive delivery of the lyrics. Like much of Hawkwind's music, Robot throbs its way through nine minutes of relentless rhythm in which cacophony and melody meander and collide... it's not one for the Cliff Richard fans!   I wonder if Wired for Sound qualifies as a robot song?