New Musical Express February 7, 1976



By John Tobler

BOXER’S WARM-up gig, one of a few, prior to their major tour which starts shortly and the hall was about a third of the size which would have been appropriate for their P.A. The result was a volume sufficient to stun elephants. Of course, you get used to it after a few numbers, but the ringing in my ears was loud enough to wake my wife when I got home.

Inevitably, the set was composed mainly of the songs from Boxer’s just released album – the one with the controversial sleeve, as you’ll no doubt be aware. But since the sleeve has very little to do with the music, I shall forget it forthwith.

All of the first side of the new LP was played, including the single, "All The Time In The World", which was slightly reminiscent of The Who.

One was also left with a slight feeling of deja vu because this group is not really so different from Patto, in which Patto himself and Ollie Halsall were the leading lights. Admittedly, a different rhythm section of Tony Newman on drums and Keith Ellis on bass is used in Boxer, but several of the familiar, and I might say pleasing, facets of Mike Patto’s previous group were still visible.

Of the material played which was not self composed, "Hey Bulldog" from the "Yellow Submarine" album, which I confess I didn’t recognise, came off very well, as did a pair of songs by the urban guerilla songwriting team of Terry Stamp and Jim Pitman-Avery, "Dinah Low" and "Town Drunk", the latter of which is on Boxer’s album.

The connection here is presumably that Halsall and Newman played on Stamp’s recent neglected LP "Fatsticks". At any rate, their violence quotient fits in well with the kind of frantic image which Patto and Halsall put over so well.

There was one original, "The Teacher", which is not on the album, and which provided both the highlights and the low points of the set. It’s a number on which Halsall, Newman and Ellis do their solo bits, and the guitar and drum solos were excellent, Halsall’s predictably so.

On the other hand, Ellis proved little during his bass solo, although perhaps I should be charitable and blame the sound equipment for the holocaust that occurred when his turn came. Even so, using a mike stand as an enormous bottleneck and finally throwing it to the floor is something I could have well done without.

With that one exception, the standard of playing was high. Both Patto and Halsall played some keyboards, Patto played some guitar on a couple of numbers, and there is no question of the group’s potential. They were called back for an encore of "I Don’t Know Why" (Stevie Wonder) and "Jumping Jack Flash", and despite the volume problems, were well received by an audience who I imagine considered themselves lucky to get such a fine band, even allowing for the fact that the band considered the gig as a preliminary to the main part of their tour.

I’m looking forward to seeing them again, but in a place equipped for this band. Now I must try and turn my ears off.

John Tobler

This issue of NME had another Boxer-related bits...

From the NEWSDESK page:


BOXER, Mike Patto’s new band, begin a six-week British tour in the middle of this month. It has been timed to tie in with the release of their debut album "Below The Belt", which comes out this weekend. Distribution of the album will, however, be restricted due to the controversial nude pictures on the sleeve. Despite the "offending zones" having been covered up by Virgin’s artists, some multiple stores are adamantly refusing to stock the LP, and it has also been banned in America.

Confirmed tour dates are at Northampton County Ground (February 14), London Chalk Farm Roundhouse (15), Cambridge Students’ Union (17), Norwich East Anglia University (25), London Chelsea College (28), Birmingham Barbarella’s (March 2), Leeds University (3), Manchester Polytechnic (4), Newcastle Polytechnic (5), Loughborough University (6). Swansea University (10), Bromley Stockwell College (11), Guildford Civic Hall (16), Plymouth Fiesta (18). Exeter St. Luke’s College (19), St. Alban’s City Hall (27) and Huddersfield Ivanhoe’s (30).

Nitpicking:  "Teachers" was not written by Boxer -- it is a Leonard Cohen song.  The LP was released in January, so I assume the News Desk article refers to the re-release with the new LP cover that covers up Stephanie's  naughty bits.  

Here's an ad for their February 15th show at the Roundhouse in London with Brand X.  Read the concert review for this concert taken from the February 21st, 1976 issue of Sounds magazine.
Full-page ad from the back page of the issue.



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