At first pass, “Automated Man” sounds like psychedelia. Maybe it’s the weird wrench sound effects or the eerie high backing vocals, or the dude clearly just shaking a bucket of nuts and bolts into the microphone.
But as you settle into it on later listens, there’s an R&B groove that emerges too. This is a tight rhythm section, buried deep in the pocket while a rhythm guitar boogies around the beat. It’s so good that it’s easy to ignore the lyrics for a good long while, which is fine; the “automated man” is just a dude who’s too uptight, and the singer is angling to get the object of his affection away from his carbon-copy world and onto his bike, where there’s room for two.
Artie Wayne is a classic old-school music industry gadabout; he’s written hit songs (“Little Christmas Tree” for Michael Jackson), discovered Sissy Spacek as a singer for his record label, and helped pitch Jesus Christ Superstar to an underground audience as it released in the US, helping cement its popularity. No less a songwriting superstar than Diane Warren attended his Artie Wayne Songwriter Motivational Course in 1983!
Like a commenter on YouTube, you may notice a passing resemblance between the verses on “Automated Man” and the Hollies’ “Bus Stop.” You’re not wrong, but does it matter? Just fall into the groove. Let it bop you away.
Never heard THAT before! Veddddy interesting! Also didn't know Artie Wayne had been a recording artist! He popped up recently in one of my recent "Inside Tracks," where we took a look at Ned Doheny's 1974 song, "Get it Up For Love," not recorded by Ned until on his "Hard Candy" album on Columbia, two years later!
I'd leave a link to the article, but that'd be bad form on your post! I'm taking up too much room, already, with this!
In fact, Ned was the 7th artist to record his own song (we're getting to Artie...there IS a point to all this, despite how it looks!)---THAT doesn't happen very often! Anyway, as you know (and your readers may not), Front Row & Backstage contributor, Stephen Michael Schwartz, was the first to record the song, on his '74 debut solo LP, followed by Johnny Rivers and David Cassidy (and a couple others).
Stephen recalls it was Artie Wayne, who had just landed, apparently, at Warner Music Publishing in '74, who was assigned Ned's catalog of songs to push for recording. Warners had just acquired Benchmark Music from David Geffen, on whose Asylum Records Ned had recorded in '72.
Anyway, Artie offered "Get it Up For Love" to Stephen, giving him sheet music and an acetate of a demo recording/guide vocal (again, as no one had yet recorded the song). So, seems like your "classic old-school music industry gadabout" to describe Artie is right on target! And, that's why we Go-Go, to fill in musical gaps no one knew were there! Very cool, Matt.....thanks, and thanks, too, for your hospitality in housing all my words of minutiae here!