Trouser Press April/May 1976

Below The Belt
Virgin PZ 34039

Boxer looked real good on paper. The extraordinary duo of Mike Patto and Ollie Halsall, leather lungs and flying fingers matched up in two seasoned teammates, should bode good things for any band. With the added strength of Tony Newman (whose drum credits include Beck, Bowie and, last but least, May Blitz) and Keith Ellis (who goes back with Van der Graaf Generator and way back with the Koobas), the advance word held out the promise of this yearís brightest new hope. All ears were attuned and prepared for some extravagant new pleasure to issue forth from tired speakers.

Come the LP, and it still looks good. In fact, the album cover, replete with an extremely nude young lady, looks very good, and our excitement builds with each passing moment. Then the music begins...and oh, well. Not meaning to sound too unhappy, the recordís pretty good. It rocks hard, features some spiffing guitar seizures from Ollie and mucho hollering in the proper key from Patto, but it just isnít up there. Thereís nothing especially unique about Boxer, and thatís too bad. Some of the songs really cut through, but not enough of them to hold the album up.

On a truly mundane level, Boxerís debut sounds like an energized version of Badco, with lyrics that beat the pants off of Paul Rodgers, but not too much else. The mix is trebly and AM-sounding, which is certainly nothing to be against; however, not much else stands out. Ollieís best playing was with the Soporifics (listen to June 1, 1974) and Patto hit his peak with his old band that carried his name. This should have been the band for them to go over the top with, and maybe it is, but this isnít the album. Like I said, it looked good on paper.

-- Ira Robbins



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