Los Angeles-born vibraphone meister Roy Ayers is still going strong at the age of 71 but back during the 1970s and early 1980s, he was a key figure in the evolution of jazz-funk with a string of groundbreaking albums for Polydor. In 1984, he moved to Columbia and updated his sound by embracing new studio technology that included synthesizers and drum machines. ‘I’m The One’ was first issued in 1987 and followed in the wake of the Columbia LPs ‘In The Dark’ and ‘You Might Be Surprised.’ Unlike those albums it failed to dent the US R&B albums chart and couldn’t yield a hit single – perhaps it’s for those reasons that the album has been neglected by the reissue companies in the digital age.
Well the good news for Roy Ayers and jazz-funk devotees is that the album’s finally been reissued, though to this writer’s ears, it hasn’t dated too well – that’s principally due to the brash ’80s production values that Ayers adheres to, where pounding mechanised drum machines and tinny Yamaha DX7 synthesizers rule and render the music devoid of any real soul. Sonically, the redeeming factors are Ayers’ crystalline vibes and his idiosyncratic vocals. Highlights include the title track – there’s an extended dance mix of it bolted on to this reissue as a bonus track – ‘Don’t You Ever Turn Away’ and the mellow ballad, ‘I Once Had Your Love.’ From the funky side of town come ‘I Really Want To Be With You’ and the anti-drug diatribe ‘Crack Attack,’ both of which are served up with weird voiceovers and a smidgeon of Ayers’ zany humour. An essential purchase for Roy Ayers’ completists only.