Friday, March 12, 2010

Rediscovering Automatic Man and Pat Thrall

 am a child of the 1970's. I grew up listening to what is now called Classic Rock. I liked all the big bands of the day - Nugent, Styx, Yes, Rush, Santana, Heart, and so on. I was a musical sponge, absorbing all I could to try learn techniques I could apply on the guitar.  I also was a fan of music on the fringe. Groups that never made it big and maybe had a few albums before breaking up.

AUTOMAIC MAN was one of them.  From Amazon music site:

Automatic Man came out of nowhere in 1976. The front cover of their debut album had a simple yet eye-catching blue alien staring out from space. A close look at the four-man lineup on the back sleeve, however, shows highly-respected ex-Santana drummer Michael Shrieve. But the brains and chief songwriter behind Automatic Man was keyboardist Bayete, whose real name is Todd Cochrane.

Cochrane was a graduate of Oxford University and had recorded two unsuccessful albums on the Fantasy label in the early '70s. He teamed up with Shrieve soon after Shrieve had departed Steve Winwood and Stomu Yamashta's Go project. These two were joined by two other Bay Area musicians who had also played with Go, guitarist Pat Thrall and bassist Doni Harvey. The debut album by this assemblage reveals a strange and eclectic mixture of space rock, funk, and Jimi Hendrix-inspired guitar, powered mainly by Bayete's dreamy keyboards and vocals. It was a promising debut, but after Shrieve quit (he later formed Novo Combo), the band lost its way. The second release had a pink alien on the front sleeve; unfortunately, the music revealed more funk but less imagination. Thrall later joined the Pat Travers Band and guested on a Narada Michael Walden album. Bayete and Harvey seemingly disappeared from view. ~ Peter Kurtz, All Music Guide.

I knew of their guitarist, Pat Thrall, from the Improvising Rock Guitar instructional book. He provided the music.  Micheal Shreive, probably my favorite drummer in the world, provided the drums. He was all of 17 when he perfomed with Santana at Woodstock.

Pat Thrall is just a monster on the guitar on the song "Automatic Man". A fan was kind enough to post it to YoutTube. Please listen and tell me if you think that Pat just takes the guitar to a new level.

See, I told you. He just is fantastic here.  Ok, here is the song "Theres a Way". Stick with to hear Pat solo in the middle.

Here is Pat with Stomu Yamashita's GO on a live album with Steve Winwood on vocals. Incredible!

I am going to try real hard to find these on CD.  I used to own the second LP, but its long gone and I don't remember much about it.

I have to say I love finding a group from the past that blows me away.  Please listen to these and comment if you think this is great stuff. I realize it is not everybodys type of music.

Pat Thrall went on to play for Pat Travers and formed The Hughes/Thrall band with Glen Hughes in the 1980s. He is still around.  In my opinion, he is one of the greats who doesn't get the attention he deserves.

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