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Articles Home » 1976 Articles » Automatic Man - 1976 Automatic Man
Automatic Man - 1976 Automatic Man

ARTIST: Automatic Man
ALBUM: Automatic Man
LABEL: Island
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: 2004, Lemon (UK), CDLEM29


LINEUP: Pat Thrall - guitars, vocals * Todd 'Bayete' Cochrane - keyboards, vocals * Doni Harvey - bass * Michael Shrieve - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Atlantis Rising Fanfare * 02 Comin' Through * 03 My Pearl * 04 One N One * 05 Newspapers * 06 Geni-Geni * 07 Right Back Down * 08 There's A Way * 09 ITD (Interstellar Tracking Device) * 10 Automatic Man * 11 Atlantis Rising Theme (Turning Of The Axis)

An interesting mid-seventies outfit who had talent to boot, but too diverse to ultimate decide which direction to go. Formed in late 1975 by the above named members, Automatic Man had the ability to mix fusion with funk and a crossover sound to make it changeable. With former Santana drummer Michael Shrieve in the mix and a versatile keyboardist in 'Bayete', this band were destined to do something in their short time together. Their debut comes off sounding like it could fit snugly into a few genres, but I think the aforementioned fusion/funk category best fits them, chuck in a few 'space prog' elements and Automatic Man have found a home. Reading some of the compiled history on this band - they would have you believe this is some sort of closet-classic, and I guess if you were a follower of this genre then it probably is. However I'm an AOR fan and this album doesn't warm my seat like other albums do.

The Songs
The instrumental lead-in 'Atlantis Rising Fanfare' kicks us off - the musicianship of all concerned a brief intro for the listener to sample. 'Comin' Through' showcases the band's fusion approach - despite the commercial chorus. The funkiness is evident on 'My Pearl' - the band changing tack with ease, Harvey's bass-lines straight out of funk city central. A track like 'Newspapers' tosses a coin at whimsical pop, whereas on 'Geni-Geni' Pat Thrall gets to show his bag of tricks - his use of tone and colour makes him one of the masters in the game. I really liked the track 'Right Back Down', where all of Automatic Man's talents are fused in the space of 6 minutes or thereabouts. 'There's A Way' is interesting to a point, the song builds up energy - maxxing out to a rock-hard climax at the end - Thrall's solo is excellent here! Take a listen to the fantastic title track 'Automatic Man' and you'll hear where Thrall got all those ideas for his future Hughes/Thrall album a few years later. The album disappears into the sunset with the closing 'Atlantis Rising Theme', combining space rock elements with Pink Floyd dynamics.

In Summary
The band lineup didn't prove to be sustainable, with Harvey and Shrieve departing after this release, and 1977's sophomore effort 'Visitors' (albeit with a similar album jacket - just different colour) would be their exit clause. Notwithstanding, Thrall hooked up for a successful run with blues rockers Pat Travers, Shrieve would go onto the band Novo Combo while 'Bayete' and Harvey would hook up gigs elsewhere. The album has since seen a CD re-release via Lemon Records, but as I understand it, this is a poor vinyl conversion job. Still, fans of the long lost 70's fusion/funk genre would do well to investigate this as a bit of history.

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#1 | sabace on April 09 2007 21:30:18
great band.
#2 | rkbluez on April 09 2007 23:27:49
Amazing album...Pat Thrall's solo alone in the title track Automatic Man is worth tracking this has to be one of my favorite solo's of all time...hard to believe he played rhythm guitar for Pat sad is that.
#3 | sabace on April 13 2007 16:57:08
The guitar work on B side of second lp VISITORS is even better. By the way Pat did some amazing work with Travers.
#4 | rkbluez on April 13 2007 20:33:03
Got both albums and it's a matter of taste...I still think the solo in Automatic Man and the s/t first album still blows Visitors away...but that's just my opinion...Visitors is a good record just a little laid back for me compared to the s/t.
#5 | sabace on December 24 2007 16:17:04
After comments from rkbluez, I decided to go back and listen to this more carefully and yes the guitar playing is superb as is the bass, keyboard & drums! Magic!
#6 | gdazegod on April 28 2008 23:33:37
Both Automatic Man albums are available on CD, courtesy of Lemon Records (UK reissue).
#7 | Nick C on August 23 2008 10:48:27
I have both the AM albums on vinyl. I think this is the strongest but Visitors is no slouch either. It has some awesome tunes and a broad (ish) base of styles. Nice!
I've also heard bad reports about the CD re-issues - apparently some really sloppy recording (a track skips back to the start or something) which has stopped me from picking them up. A decent re-issue of both is well overdue!
#8 | rkbluez on July 17 2013 22:31:30
Guess Lemon has corrected the problem with this CD and if you got a bad copy (the first pressing) you can E-mail them and ask for a replacement...I forgot what proof I needed but they did send me a corrected copy.
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