Fusion, March 1973


"Roll ‘Em Smoke ‘Em
Put Another Line Out"
(Island 9322)

By Ken Barnes

Patto: from a Four Seasons cover to singing the blues on reds, sleeping in hotel beds.
Patto’s third album is something different. Not different than their last release, Hold Your Fire, which is fairly similar stylistically, but very distinctive indeed in comparison with the general run of present-day musical product. Songs like "Singing the Blues On Reds" and "I Got Rhythm" are unique; seldom have such bizarre musical/lyrical creations seen the vinyl light (in the case of tracks like "Mummy" and the bulk of "Cap’n P and the Atto’s," seldom have such thoroughly unlistenable nonmusical creations blighted the vinyl scene, but you can skip those after maybe one audition).

Wondrous and mystifying aural delights abound within the rest of the LP; you’ll find weird rhythms apparently equally derivative of James Brown and Captain Beefheart plus some heavy rock and a bit of jazz thrown in for good measure. There are frequent interludes of the most aggravating instrumental doodling, as well as recurrent flashes of offbeat but dazzling guitar and keyboard wizardry (by Olly Halsall). Lyrically the standout tracks are probably the presumably autobiographical "Singing the Blues On Reds" (by title alone an instant classic) and the ominously deadpan "I Got Rhythm." From a musical standpoint I’d nominate the crypto-heavy metal "Loud Green Song"; "Flat-Footed Woman," with its wheezing Mott the Hoople organ flourishes, neat background vocals, and coruscating pianistics; and the amazing "Turn Turtle," a complex commentary on sexual frigidity which actually possesses a poignant melody and positively ethereal harmonies (at times most reminiscent of B. Bumble and The Stingers with vocals).

And there’s much more as yet unplumbed; I expect to be bemusedly deciphering this album for the next dozen listenings (which may take a year or more, ‘cause you’ve got to be careful you don’t overplay this stuff for fear of irrevocable damage to the anterior lobe regions). Patto’s come a long way since they covered the Four Seasons’ "Beggin’" in their Timebox days, and you could do worse than check out what they’re up to. You won’t be indifferent, that’s for sure.

Ken Barnes
Fusion 51

Note:  Thanks to Gordon Jackson for providing this article!


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