Disc  December 9, 1972


By Peter Erskine

"TO BE quite honest we had a tough job. In the States it was Joe Cocker, with the Chris Stainton Band, Mark Almond – they’re very big there now – and Patto opening the bill for 20 minutes or half an hour. It was a tough gig man, and we knew it."

Mike Patto, singer with the band, freelance lunatic and man of letters – reclines with budding superstar ease on a sofa that his London publicist claims once supported the weight of latter day hero Andrew Loog Oldham.

Patto have just completed a huge Australian/American tour with the Cocker band and are back here in time to resume their one-nighters to help promote their very excellent and tasteful new album "Roll ‘Em, Smoke ‘Em, Put Another Line Out."

"I dig it, anyway," says Mr Patto, looking just a little blown out. "I came home after not hearing it for a long time, played it, and I was really knocked out, to be quite honest. I thought, Yeah, that’s all right. Usually you get a few winces off your own stuff y’know.

"Out of the three albums we’ve put down, the first one was just blunt, the second one was produced a bit more, and the third one’s changed again. It's a more natural Patto album than the others – and Olly’s playing much more keyboards. We haven’t cut and edited neat little tunes. We left weird little beginnings and endings on it, as it was in the studio – that was more directed at people like you who knew the band anyway.

"The faults that were given to as about our other albums were that they weren’t anything like we come across on stage."

The new album sold 2,500 on the first day it was released, whereas, the first album, "Patto", only did 5,000 copies altogether, so it looks, at long last, as if the band is going to start emerging from its four years of poverty and depravity; well, perhaps only poverty.

They have new and high powered management – Nigel Thomas, Cocker’s manager, who signed them after having seen them support Cocker at The Rainbow early this year. Chrysalis is their agency, and Island their record company.

"It takes time to see where you’re at" mumbles Mike, "but I’m certainly aware that we’re much better off than we have been in the past. It’s much better; much easier on the pocket, equipment-wise...

"And I think we’ve owned up to the fact that Patto is something you can’t take as your latest pop singles group. It’s very hard to digest Patto in some ways, because, especially onstage, we take terrible liberties. We’re told that we present a "show," and I don’t know whether they think it’s a rehearsed routine thing or what. It isn’t, and that’s the big chance we take. It’s serious madness…"

Although that tour was a hard one to start with, it resolved itself in the end; the last few sets in the deep south had audiences standing on their seats, but, as Mike will tell you, the band would simply starve if they had to fend for themselves over there:

"It’s unhealthy for new bands over there. Like it’s a known thing you always lose money on your first tour. Fair enough, but I’m not speaking for us. In this country you can work our way up in stages - £10, £15, £30 a night and so on until you get the band off the ground. You’ve less area to cover, so by the time you’ve been around the circuit a few times, your band’s together.

"Back there there’s so many really good musicians raving away. You meet them and say: What’s your band doing? Oh, we got a garage; we’ve been playing about two years now. You say: Why aren’t you gigging then? And they’ll always tell you the same thing: There’s only bar room gigs, and we don’t fancy that because you have to play what the management want, and keep the volume down.

"All the clubs are gone; the only way is for them to get on tours. To do that they must find a guy with enough bread and enough action to get an album together or present a demo to a record company, who’ll then, perhaps, allow them to make an album. The chance is 100-1 against, though.

The big tours are killing the music at its roots.

In the near future Patto may be augmenting their sound with a guy called Pete, whose surname nobody can remember. He plays tenor, alto, soprano-sax, flute and tuba and baritone. "He’s a freak," says Mike simply, "He plays a bit like Olly on horn if you can imagine that." There are others in mind too, but they can’t be disclosed, but Mike will confirm that later they want to add a percussionist or two to fatten out the sound. Should be amazing; they’re not exactly dull now, y’know.

Note:  The horn player had already played live with the band at least once when this article was published.  His name is Pete Davey, according to a concert review in the November 25, 1972 issue of Melody Maker.


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