In my quest for picture sleeve 7″ Singles from my favorite artist in the 70/80/90’s, I found this one from Styx. It is the 7″ Single for the song “Mr. Roboto” from the album ‘Kilroy Was Here’, the album that basically killed the band for a short time anyway. This song was released on February 23, 1983 and went all the way to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and selling over 1,000,000 copies.
The album was a concept album which Styx was not unfamiliar with and they still do them today, but this one caused a riff in the band. Dennis DeYoung wanted to really focus on the theatrics and he loved doing the soft ballads, which was against the grain for what James Young and Tommy Shaw wanted to do. It led to a short break-up, if you want to call it that. Tommy left and eventually came back but Dennis was gone by then and still gone today. But this is all for another day, let us get to the song.
The song is about…well…let’s let Wikipedia explain it as they can do a better job than I can…
The song tells part of the story of Robert Orin Charles Kilroy (ROCK), in the rock opera Kilroy Was Here. The song is performed by Kilroy (as played by keyboardist Dennis DeYoung), a rock and roll performer who was placed in a futuristic prison for “rock and roll misfits” by the anti-rock-and-roll group the Majority for Musical Morality (MMM) and its founder Dr. Everett Righteous (played by guitarist James Young). The Roboto is a model of robot which does menial jobs in the prison. Kilroy escapes the prison by overpowering a Roboto prison guard and hiding inside its emptied-out metal shell. When Jonathan Chance (played by guitarist Tommy Shaw) finally meets Kilroy at the very end of the song, Kilroy unmasks and yells “I’m Kilroy! Kilroy!”, ending the song.
My copy is the basic U.S. release and nothing special about it.
The song starts off with the robot talking with the “Dōmo arigatō misutā robotto” which was done using a vocoder which is basically a speech synthesizer. Dennis DeYoung sings and he is very over the top dramatic with his vocals as this album is basically a rock opera of sorts. The synthesizers were used a lot giving it a metallic feel to the sound. The drums seem to be programmed as they are a little flat. It is a catchy tune, but a little strange as well. The band stopped playing this live for the longest time, but on their most recent tour, they have dusted it off and started playing it again live which is cool.
The video below is the official video and not the single version I have on the 45, but that’s okay. Enjoy!!
The B-Side is the song “Snowblind” from their 1981 album ‘Paradise Theatre’. I guess they wanted people to remember their back catalog as I am not sure why they wouldn’t use a deep cut from the new album. This is the album cut and not a single version. This was a very controversial song as it was about cocaine addiction (Imagine that with that title), but the big controversy was that anti-rock activists thought the song had satanic messages and hidden backward messages. For example, the line “I try so hard to make it so” sounded like “Satan moves through our voices” when played backwards. Which we now know is utterly ridiculous.
The song is just a rock song, with great guitar playing. It goes back and forth between the despondent tone during the verses (which are sung by James Young) to the harder and edgier choruses (sung by Tommy Shaw). The back & forth represent the highs and lows of the addiction. It really is just a great rock roll song…nothing more…nothing less.
And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this brief walk through the single. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you all again real soon!!