Trouser Press November 1977


Epic PE 34812

The lineup looks pretty good on the sleeve: Mike Patto (Timebox/Patto) on vocals, Chris Stainton (Grease Band/Mad Dogs/Spooky Tooth/sessions) on keyboards, Adrian Fisher (Andy Fraser’s Toby/Sparks) on guitar, Tim Bogert (Vanilla Fudge/Cactus/Beck Bogert & Appice) on bass, and Eddie Tuduri (Beach Boys/sessions) on drums. Not a bad lot of seasoned pros.

The genesis of Boxer goes back to 1975 when Patto and ace guitarist Ollie Halsall (see TP 15 for details) formed Boxer, along with Keith Ellis (Van der Graaf/Juicy Lucy) and Tony Newman (May Blitz/Jeff Beck Group). The group was signed to Virgin and released their debut LP (Below the Belt) amid quite a bit of critical excitement and moral outrage (at a sleeve which, on the British version, showed quite a bit of a naked lady). Despite its failure to ignite the world, Boxer was a promising group, one which ought to have a survived a bit longer than it did. After some personnel shifting they recorded a second album (never released), Bloodletting. Thanks to Boxer’s on-again-off-again existence that album will probably never appear, as the group is no longer signed to Virgin. One song, "Rich Man’s Daughter", has been salvaged from that album and appears on Absolutely, but I imagine it’s not the same take.

Patto is the only member remaining from the original Boxer, a shame considering that Ollie is a truly talented musician (despite his somewhat bland contribution to Below the Belt). Wonder what he’s up to now. In any case, the group now contains a full complement of songwriters, none of whom can provide a really good song. A pity.

Absolutely is a competent rock album; a bit boozy perhaps, but well done in terms of chops and arrangements. No complaints are in order except that the whole thing has about as much character as loaf of pumpernickel, a longtime Patto predicament. Without someone distinctive like Halsall the band flounders around, lacking nothing so much as an identity. Oh well. Perhaps they’ll break up again. Maybe the next Boxer’ll be better.

-- Ira Robbins



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