Instrument swapping on Automatic

I`ve always been quite fascinated with
a) who wrote what (there are several interesting topics already on that here on murmurs)
b) who played what. its especially interesting to me with automatic, because there are basically no addittional musicians (except scott litt on harmonica and clavinet on ignoreland, knox chandler on cello on sweetness follows and of course the orchestra on several tracks) and the instruments are not listed. for example on out of time and hi-fi every song has credits. yet automatic is sonically very diverse and there are a lot of instruments used, also it seems like there is quite a lot of instrument swapping. i left out michael as he does the singing everywhere and also backing vocals, as mike and bill are pretty identifiable. so its just my guesses (and some tiny bits of memory i got from somewhere) on instruments.

01 drive: the regular setup: bill drums, percussion; mike bass; peter all sorts of guitars
02 try not to breathe: the regular setup plus mike on organ and peter on dulcimer
03 sidewinder: the regular plus mike on organ, there is quite a prominent hammond part on it
04 everybody hurts: started with bill on guitar and rhythm box, but the studio version i guess has bill on drums (when they eventually come in), mike on keys and bass (?), peter on guitar
05 new orleans number 1: bill on keys? mike on double bass? peter on guitar?
06 sweetness: peter on guitar? mike on organ? bill on bass?
07 monty: regular + mike on a werid rubber-stringed small bass and peter on dulcimer
08 ignoreland: regular rock setup
09 star me kitten: mike: organ, voice loops played thru a mixer; peter guitar, bill bass (and ride cymbal i guess)
10 man on the moon: regular setup + mike on piano (actually quite prominent part again), peter on mandolin or dulcimer
11 nightswimming: mike piano
12 find the river: regular? except mike on piano, hammond and bill on bass (at least in the video; its a pretty mean bass part with some cool bends in the end).

from somewhere i read, and i have no recollection from where, that sweetness follows has no parts played by mike on it, and find the river has no parts played by peter on it. talking about studio versions.

it all is actually irrelevant as the album is great anyways, but being a musician (sort of) myself the studio doings have always interested me.


I think you’re close… but the instument on “Monty…” is a bouzouki…
Bouzouki Bouzouki - Google Search

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I recall some references of them overdubbing demos for some of the AFTP songs. REM Timeline suggests they worked on Sweetness Follows and Find the River in Atlanta in early 1992. Of the two, Sweetness Follows seems like the better candidate of being a Buck solo recording before overdubs, as the backing track sounds somewhat lo-fi.


I think you’re pretty close. As said above, it’s a bouzouki on Monty. I have a memory that Mills plays a fretless bass on Ignoreland.

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Sure, yes. My bad. Its indeed a bozouki, there is Monster tour footage on Youtube of him playing it. Basically mandolins slightly bigger and lower brother.

I found out because “Monty…” is my favorite song on Automatic…

I wouldn’t have found out, had I not looked it up. Good job on the rest. “Sweetness Follows” is my second favorite. Peters feedback “solo”* , I swear he went off the planet with that one.:yum:

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It has been reported (and confirmed by Mike on Twitter to me) that Peter didn’t play on FTR and Mike didn’t play anything on Sweetness Follows.