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Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

First album from Patto, a group named after its singer's surname, released on the Vertigo label, developing a complex kind of progressive blues rock, based on the multi-instrumental prowess of Ollie Hallsall (future Tempest with John Hiseman). Completing the quartet are the raspy-voiced Mike Patto, the sturdy drummer John Halsey and pedestrian bassist Clive Griiffiths. While Patto's "progressive blues rock" label is not really that appropriate, it's quite difficult to define their music accurately as it spans from straight RnR (San Antone) to bluesier rock ala Free (Goverment Man) to jazzy stuff (Money Bag). The ugly drawing on the gatefold artwork is by the same that will do Patto's other album and took care of May Blitz's just as ugly artworks.

Most of Patto"s interest lies in their leader's (Halsall) multi-instrumental virtuoso talents, but he appears to be the main songwriter as well. If the opening side bears collectively-written tracks that flirts between blues and rock (between Humble Pie and Free) with the best track being the acoustic Time To Die and great guitar solo in the aptly-named Red Glow; the flipside belongs to him alone (if you'll except Mike Patto's lyrics credits) and presents the most interesting tracks mentioned above (Money Bag and Gov't Man), but even then, it's not unique and outside one track, it's not essential for the majority of progheads. However most of the proggyness of Patto appear in the jazz-influenced incredible guitar playing from Hallsall's , as he was quite a live attraction with his very young age. Definitely their better album. .

Report this review (#258793)
Posted Friday, January 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The band Patto sprung from the ashes of sixties band Timebox who's soul tinged pop/rock was to find them little commercial success. After the departure of keyboard player Chris Holmes the remaining members took the surname of vocalist Mike Patto as the new name for the band and continued in an altogether different direction.

Although Timebox had shown signs towards the end of a more adventurous direction there was no mistaking it with Patto. They were much more of a rock band fusing powerful (sometimes) heavy rock with a good dose of jazz and a sprinkling of blues into songs with inventive structures and extended guitar workouts courtesy of their trump card, the brilliant Ollie Halsall, surely one of the most underrated guitar players to have come out of the UK. On drums John Halsey and bassist Clive Griffiths made up a fine rhythm section that could play it straight in the more rocky moments or follow the subtle twists and turns of Halsall's complex jazz excursions with ease. On top of this they had the benefit of the powerful and gritty vocals of Mike Patto who was an excellent vocalist in the classic rock tradition; another under appreciated talent.

The production of the album, courtesy of Muff Winwood is very bare and spacious and really captures the band in the raw allowing the listener to hear every little nuance.

The album gets off to a great start with the slow build of The Man. From restrained beginnings it gradually increases in intensity into a powerhouse of a song and also introduces one of Halsall's other talents; playing vibes. Hold Me Back is a much more straightforward rock song but certainly not ordinary as Halsall's fluent guitar playing weaves as it fluctuates between riffs, licks and lead runs with few overdubs with a superb solo. Time To Die sees the band in a more mellow mood. Acoustic guitar and delicate work from the rhythm section underline a fine vocal performance. Red Glow is an album highlight and another powerful rock moment. It features perhaps Halsall's greatest solo on the album which really burns.

San Antone is a lighter but more uptempo moment which really swings with jazzy overtones and Government Man is another moment of subtle restraint; both great songs. Money Bag captures the band jamming in jazz mode, Patto's vocals not arriving until late and closing track Sittin' Back Easy is another gem moving from delicately picked guitar to a powerhouse of a riff.

Patto were also known for the humour they injected in their performances, something that doesn't really come across on this album or follow up Hold Your Fire. For that you'd need to investigate their third album Roll'Em, Smoke 'Em, Put Another Line Out which however is musically inferior to this gem of a debut and its follow up. They were never a band blessed with luck either with poor album sales, Patto died of cancer in 1979, Halsall died of a drug overdose in 1992 and Griffith and Halsey were involved in a serious car crash while touring with Joe Brown which left Griffith paralysed down one side and no memory of the Patto days apparently. A truly sad story but at least we have this startlingly good debut and even better follow up to remind us what a fantastic and undiscovered gem of a band Patto were.

Report this review (#264337)
Posted Friday, February 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Upon it's initial release, this curious blend of jazz and rock(which is not, as is the norm with jazz-rock, in the Bitches Brew/Mahavishnu Orchestra style) sold just an estimated 5,000 copies on it's initial 1970 debut. Released by the famous old Vertigo Label(them of the 'spiral')with a special-edition-style textured sleeve, original vinyl copies have become highly-sought items for collectors, with some editions changing hands for up to £500! As has become their style, Germany's Repertoire Records has released 'Patto' on a special edition original vinyl-replica CD - complete with the yellow, textured cover - and have once again captured the mystique of the original album for those rock-enthusiasts who can't find or afford original vinyl copies. The band themselves formed from the ashes of the 1960's singles group Timebox, and was built around vocalist Mike Patto and the hugely-talented guitarist Ollie Halsall, who's eccentric personalities seem to dominate the album. The sound is very much jazz-scaled rock, with the guitars and basses very much to the fore, with catchy rock-soul numbers interspersed with smoky jazz tunes and quirky, improvisational experimentation. Whilst 'Patto' does retain a certain mythical affection from some record collectors, it's not an essential prog-or-jazz album, but nevertheless is a highly-original and enjoyable one. The cool jazz-pop of 'Government Man' is possibly the best indicator of group's prediliction for combining catchy-choruses with proggy guitar-jazz, if not for the song's slight commercial potential that comes in the form of a catchy chorus built upon solid rock foundations, then for the crisp guitar-and-bass interplay that bristles with a funky gusto that gives 'Government Man' a unique, low-slung vibe. Later tracks tend to doodle a bit, especially the ten minute 'Money Bag', but on the whole this is a nicely-judged debut. It would, however, prove to be the peak of the group's recorded output. Follow-up 'Hold Your Fire' failed to re-produce the jazz-gustom and low-slung-rock of it's predecessor, whilst later efforts tended towards a sillier, less-progressive form of strange rock that saw the band incorporate a feature of their popular live show, known as 'Looning'(don't ask) into their already leftfield music. A minor band they may have been, but for one piece of vinyl Patto became, to some, genuine stars, thanks to their unique brand of chameleonic jazz-soul-rock and their sensational live shows. The hit-single or million-selling album may have aluded them, but they have at least contributed an impressiev album to the overall canon of prog, and genuine cult item as well. ST
Report this review (#268230)
Posted Thursday, February 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Patto - st (1970)

Often listed as progressive rock, I would rather call it an early hard rock record with jazz influences and very inventive rock musicianship. This doesn't sound like other progressive rock acts at all.

The record has amazing musicianship. The drummer (John Halsey) is brilliant in his subtleties and his jazz-influenced style is extremely rare in rock of this age. The guitar (Ollie Halsal) is played full and inventive, hiding the fact that this is an album with only four instruments. On the second side the free-jazz Money bag runs a bit too long, but the guitar solo's are amazing! The vocals of Mike Patto are among the better of it's day and it makes one wonder why this record wasn't picked up by the mainstream rock audiance. It was probably a bit too sophisticated.

Perhaps the songs on the first side are a bit catchier then some on the second side, but this is a very interesting record nontheless. The performances are very exciting! The recording quality is very good as well. Four stars for now. Perhaps more in the near future. Recommended to listeners of hard rock - progressive crossovers, jazz-rock, strong vocal performances and brilliant musicianship.

Report this review (#1509867)
Posted Sunday, January 10, 2016 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is an album that seems to be universally loved. Well except for yours truly because Bluesy rock that is listener friendly just doesn't do much for me. Of course there's much more here than that but this sounds like so many bands from back in the day. PATTO is named after it's vocalist Mike Patto who has a rough bluesy voice but we also get some players here in drummer John Halsey and especially guitarist Peter "Ollie" Halsall. The inventive moments are so impressive but then there's that commercial sounding bluesy stuff that does nothing for me. Love the cover art.

"The Man" is a surprisingly laid back opener with tasteful guitar, a beat and reserved vocals. Some vibes around 2 1/2 minutes as the vocals and guitar step aside and they return just before 4 minutes. It does turn fuller and we get more passionate vocals with active drumming late. "Hold Me Back" has more energy to it but it's still a straight forward song with the focus on the vocals mostly. Some really nice guitar from around 2 minutes in to before 3 1/2 minutes when the vocals return. It's okay.

"Time To Die" has these acoustic guitar melodies and fragile vocals but drums and bass join in quickly. A folky tune. "Red Glow" has this sixties sounding guitar intro as the bass and drums support and vocals join in. The vocals stop at 1 1/2 minutes as the guitar lets it rip for about a minute. This happens again 4 minutes in. "San Antone" opens with guitar, bass and drums as they sort of stutter along as vocals join in and man this sounds lame. Commercial drivel.

"Government Man" is a song where the focus is on the story. "Money Bag" really comes across as Free Jazz the way we get such an unmelodic soundscape, especially the relentless guitar that is so annoying. This goes on unmercifully until it ends just before 6 1/2 minutes! The vocals and calm take over at this point. This is somewhat jazzy and whimsical really the rest of the way. "Sittin' Back Easy" ends it and we get a folky vibe here until it turns fuller with more passionate vocals. Contrasts continue until we get some nice guitar work after 3 minutes.

Should get some hate mail over this one but I really don't get the appeal and no they shouldn't have been more popular than they were.

Report this review (#1872734)
Posted Tuesday, February 6, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars PATTO were a London-based Jazz-Rock band led by Mike Patto on vocals. They released three albums in the early 1970's:- "Patto" (1970); "Hold Your Fire" (1971); and "Roll 'em Smoke 'em, Put Another Line Out" (1972). Patto recorded a fourth album in 1973 "Monkey's Bum", but that album wouldn't see release until the 1990's, long after the band had broken up due to poor record sales. Their first self-titled album - reviewed here - with it's very bizarre and ghoulish cover, featured eight songs on the original album, with three bonus tracks added for the 2017 CD reissue.

Alright Now, it's time to meet "The Man" for our opening song. It's a slow tempo heavy blues number with the gravelly-voiced soulful singer Mike Patto sounding like he regularly eats sandpaper for breakfast. The music is nicely laid-back, with a similar sound to some of the slower gutsy songs by Paul Rodgers and Free. The song also has the added bonus of a Jazzy instrumental interlude featuring the lustrous sound of the vibraphone, which glides softly over the listener like gossamer caresses. If you were to throw a coin in the Wishing Well and hope for a soulful and bluesy Free-like number to open a Jazz- Rock album, then "The Man" is exactly what you would get. The second song "Hold Me Back" is a storming Blues-Rock song with a punchy rhythm section but without any of the Jazzy elements heard in the opening song. There's no holding back the electric guitarist on this bluesy number, as he demonstrates some frenetic finger-licking prowess on the fretboard. Onto Song No. 3 now and "It's all behind, it's time to rest, it's time to die" ..... Those are the opening lyrics to "Time To Die", so this song isn't exactly bursting with joyous optimism and happiness. The long-haired singer Mike Patto looks and sounds not unlike soulful David Coverdale of Deep Purple in the YouTube video that accompanies the song. If you're in the mood for some mean and moody British blues, then the raw and earthy "Time To Die" might be just your cup of tea (taken without milk and sugar). Get ready for some red-hot duelling guitars in "Red Glow", a song which brings to mind the classic dual guitar leads of Wishbone Ash. The guitarist with Patto might not have an awesome "Flying V" guitar like Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, but he can still make it perform virtual aerobatics with some stunning Stratocaster guitar licks.

Having found a YT video for "Time To Die" on Side One, we're doubly-blessed with a Live YouTube video for "San Antone", the opening song on Side Two. This song is an all-out raucous rocker with a pile-driving rhythm which barrels along relentlessly for three minutes with barely enough time for the band to come up for air. This group of London guys sound just like a bunch of good old boys from San Antonio, Texas in this pounding Southern Rock number. The only thing missing in the YT video are the long beards of ZZ Top, forever remembered as the hirsute Texas trio whose drummer Frank Beard is the only member without a beard! The 6th song "Government Man" is a fairly routine bluesy number with a laid-back mellow groove. The song is nothing to do with a G-Man from the F.B.I. though. No, it's a sad and sorry tale of a family about to lose their home to the government man of the title. The song might be back-to-basics British blues, but it still beats most of what passes for popular music on the radio these days. Forget Bieber Fever - this is what REAL music sounds like! The next song "Money Bag" is the longest piece of music on the album, running at around ten minutes long. It's also the Jazziest tune on the album, where the extended running time allows ample time for some wild improvisational experimentation. The first six minutes is one of those Love/Hate pieces of music, where you'll either love it for the technical wizardry to be heard from a group of accomplished musicians at the top of their game, or you'll hate it for what sounds to your ears like "a tuneless mess". Either way, the last four minutes is a return to some sense of normality for the standard double-four-time British blues formula to be heard on earlier songs. Are you sitting comfortably? We're "Sittin' Back Easy" (with no "g") now for the final song from Patto's debut. It's a two-part piece of music with a deceptively quiet opening to put one in a relaxed and mellow frame of mind. There's no time to rest on our laurels though, as the opening just serves as a prelude for some powerful Blues-Rock which slowly gathers in pace, exploding out into a storming crescendo of sound for the magnificent finale. It's a four-minute-long album highlight.

Patto have stormed onto the Jazz-Rock stage in impressive style with this powerful bluesy debut which packs a mighty punch!

Report this review (#2344124)
Posted Sunday, March 22, 2020 | Review Permalink

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