I, Assassin is the sixth studio album, and fourth under his own name, by Gary Numan. Released in 1982, it reached no. 8 on the UK charts.
Three songs; "Music for Chameleons", "We Take Mystery (To Bed)" and "White Boys and Heroes" were released as singles from the album and all reached the UK Top 20 ("We Take Mystery" reached no. 9, and was Numan's last top 10 single to date).
Numan's previous album, Dance, was an experimental effort that explored and incorporated different musical elements such as jazz. I, Assassin operates in a similar vein. Although the fretless bass and some of the jazz elements of Dance are still in place, Numan went further with I, Assassin, exploring funk music and blending it together with heavier percussion and his own familiar electronic sound. Numan recalled that an important factor during the album's recording was the contribution made by bassist Pino Paladino:
He was brilliant. I had never heard playing like it...He came up with stunning bass lines, song after song. I leaned on him heavily during the making of the album. I pushed his playing to the forefront of the tracks and, inadvertently, created a new style. It was one of the first times that the fretless bass had been used as the lead melody instrument, allowing the album to be atmospheric, dreamy and funky.
At the time I, Assassin was released, Numan believed it was the best album he had made. Although it was unsurprisingly slated by the majority of the British music press (which had had a strong dislike for Numan and his music ever since his meteoric rise to fame), the album did garner some praise. Numan was given credit for changing his sound by shifting from synth-heavy music to a more bass-led, electro-dance approach. Numan argued that he wanted to shift away from a lot of electronic artists during this period because he felt they were stuck in an interchangeable and simplistic rut that they could never break. Numan wanted to be ahead of the pack and was interested in experimenting with other genres. For the album's cover sleeve, Numan retained the "Fedora" hat from Dance, with the trenchcoat and alley background representing I, Assassin's 1930s gangster motif. The album cover of I, Assassin was influenced by that of Frank Sinatra's 1954 album Songs for Young Lovers.
Before the release of I, Assassin, Numan left Britain to live as a tax exile in the United States. He supported the new album with an 18-date concert tour in America in October-November 1982 (his first series of live shows since his "farewell" shows at Wembley Stadium in 1981). No official live albums or videos have been released from Numan's 1982 tour. Numan recorded a second video for "We Take Mystery (To Bed)" during his stay in Los Angeles, before heading to live in Jersey where he began writing the material for his next album, Warriors (1983).
The track "Bridge? What Bridge?" is an improvisational piece and includes David Van Day and Thereza Bazar from the group Dollar. Bazar also contributes backing vocals, and Van Day handclaps, to the song "Noise Noise".