AUTOMATICS - Old River Thames / Trash / Wonderful Day (Dork UR10)

Regular visitors to the site will already know how highly I rate The Automatics album Britannia. Old River Thames has been chosen as a single, a decision sure to please former BBC Radio 1 DJ Mike Read who has cited it as one of his "Desert Island Discs". It's built around a haunting melody with clear vocals delivering lyrics rich in River Thames imagery. Automatics main man Dave Philp, has an impressive array of friends to call upon, and has written this song with Mick Rossi (Slaughter & The Dogs). It's not a balls-to-the-wall rocker, it's a mid-paced swaggering affair that matches the feeling it conveys.

The second track, Trash featuring Steve Jones, IS a balls-to-the-wall rocker. Not to be confused with the New York Dolls song, it's a statement about the state of radio, who, well, play trash. The original version of the track appeared on the hard to find 2004 album Forty Virgins in the Afterlife, but has been re-mixed to give a more powerful, cleaner sound. This is definitely one for playing loud for the total Jones experience.

The third track, Wonderful Day has another of Dave Philp's mates, Paul McCartney`s current guitarist, Brian Ray in evidence. Perhaps it is my imagination but I detected some Abbey Road period Beatles moves tucked in there. This track is closer in style to Dave's Britannia work than Forty Virgins..., and like Britannia, is a passionate uplifting song.

So c'mon, grab a slice of Steve Jones action and experience the awesome Automatics into the bargain. They may have released their first record back in 1978, but The Automatics are my 'discovery' of the year.

Review by Phil Singleton
1st December 2006

AUTOMATICS - BRITANNIA (Promo E.P.): England Expects / Britannia / British Beat / Rule Britannia (UR PROMO 1)

The Automatics are being reviewed on Kick Down The Doors because Steve makes a rare appearance on the track British Beat. The four tracks are taken from the forthcoming album, Britannia. The titles, along with the excellent sleeve, let us know the theme of the material. Songs steeped in British history, with sharp lyrics reflecting the multifaceted beast that is Great Britain.

Let's start with British Beat, with guitars by Steve. We all know the boy can deliver, but every time I hear a new song I never fail to experience that thrill only Steve's guitar can produce. The track is a tribute to 60s British Beat: "All bleeding hearts and plastic flowers, mods and rockers and high-rise towers, when you hear those old 45s, you can see that distant look in Lennon`s eyes." Think summery sound, think Hollies, think Glam Rock, think punk rock, and top it with a lavishing of Jonesy. Add an infectious melody and memorable chorus, and a production reminiscent of Chinn & Chapman at their peak. It's that good. You think this sounds over the top? I've only just started; this is the best song of the summer.

It doesn't end there. All four tracks took me totally by surprise. If it wasn't for Steve's involvement I wouldn't have given any of this a listen, but I'm so glad I have. It's not heads down and let's rock on show here, but a mix of different genres woven together with some style. Take the barber shop harmonies on Rule Britannia, almost hymn like, which dominate the opening couple of minutes of the song before the meaty guitar comes in dragging the song from the Cathedral onto the streets. And it's no piss take, it's a class and rousing piece of music that you can't get out of your head.

England Expects delivers a history lesson from a 21st Century perspective, "From Africa to India to Singapore and back." It's smart, and soaked in an energetic melody which is clearly a hallmark of The Automatics and songwriter Dave Philp. By contrast, title track Britannia features the Haslingden and Helmshore Brass Band, and has a Chumbawamba folk vibe. Another mighty anthem (there's 4 anthems on here, yes 4).

I cannot recommend this highly enough. The album is due next week. Be one of the first, get Britannia blasting out this summer and keep those England flags flying to the sound of The Automatics. This is the best set of songs I've heard this year.

Here British Beat and England Expects at

Review by Phil Singleton
4th June 2006

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