Fusion, July 1972


"Hold Your Fire" 

Vertigo 1008

by Jon Tiven

First off, the typical Vertigo heavy they ain’t. Muff Winwood, ex-Spencer Davis guitarist and Stevie’s brother, is ace man on production and that’s a signal that this is no ordinary album. But the second you hear Olly’s flash lead guitar you are made aware of the fact that this is no neo-Cream imitation or anything of that kind, but an English rock band with distinctions far beyond those of mortal Americans. This, my friend, is Patto. Not just another band.

So you’ve got lead singer Mike Patto and the multi-talented Olly Halsall who plays guitar, vibes, and touches upon the magical eighty-eight a few times. Not just the leaders/composers of the group, but masters of their respective instruments of expression, may it be bronchial pipes or the pearl-guilded fretboard. Patto’s singing is on par with fellow countrymen Roger Chapman, Joe Cocker, Rod Stewart and Roger Daltrey; Halsall’s jazz-based finger-string acrobatics provide some friendly competition for Peter Frampton, who’s been running away with all the honors in that particular category for eons. But we can’t forget the precision rhythm section of Clive Griffiths (bass) and John Halsey (drums), who keep things funk-filled without stepping all over Patto/Halsall. Griffiths combines the complicated lines of Jack Bruce with the straightforwardness of Greg Ridley, and Halsey’s delicate percussion and wondrous use of the tom-tom for accentuation fits magnificently.

The songs are, most accordingly, highly inspired works of musical and lyrical madness lopped into a jazz/rock circus. Speaking strictly chord-wise, they are much more complicated than those on their first album, yet come off with a sense of ease and smoothness. In short, nothing like it has ever reached my ears – Hold Your Fire is every bit the innovation that Pink Floyd’s Piper At the Gates of Dawn was, and is an album that will be able to stand on its own in the years to come. But there’s no need to wait that long – I suggest you pick up this record immediately, if you please.

Jon Tiven

Note:  Thanks to Gordon Jackson for providing this article!


[Return to Top of Page]