Melody Maker, November 13, 1971

by Michael Watts

GOSH, it‘s good to see a band which, as yet, has not been invested with importance. Like, there was the alternative press, and Zoot Money and various other musicians bopping and lurching to the music that was spattering off the walls of Hampstead, London, Country Club last Wednesday. Notwithstanding the real audience, of course, who probably paid to get in. All there to see Mike Patto and his band of the same name (nee Timebox) do it to you with the evergreen "Shakin’ All Over," and the barber shop harmonies (impeccably trimmed) of "Stairway Of Love," let alone the uncommonly vibrant strains of self-penned "San Antone" – and many more from the pen of Michael Patrick McGrath, ex-Moody Blues compere and occasional cabaret star, and Peter "Ollie" Halsall, singular figure of the vibes and guitar.

It seems to be an established tradition among rock music journalists that one has to proselytise about favourite artists and bands and then justify the propaganda. All I can say in explanation of Patto’s personal appeal is that they get me off, probably because that appeal is on a root level, communicating to the rock listener’s natural centre of energy i.e. his feet.

If Patto ever make it big, which is perfectly feasible, they will be one of those overnight successes who wake up to a dawn of fame fortune and super-groupies after a nighttime lasting roughly seven years.

Which is to say they have grafted – no cheapo cheapo instant blood, sweat and tears, cock. Back in ‘66 Chris Welch, that maker and breaker extraordinaire forecasted – with not a touch of arrogance, I may add – that one Timebox, a group of five, would ere long be so hot that mere mention of them would set the hare krishna jasmin incense smouldering in its holder – statuette of Buddha in the Lotus. Five years later, and less idealistic, the world still waits. But Patto, with the member down but four rarin’ to go, can still make one snort with delight.

Whether Patto ever becomes a household name and figure big on tours promoted by John and Tony Smith, is irrelevant, really. If we have to play the rock academician, their basic flaw is that they lack distinctive style musically, although Halsall is truly a most underrated guitarist and Patto himself has outsize personality (potentially one of rock‘s greatest personalities, says his newly-acquired publicist). They‘re most successful playing it straight down the line and looning. In fact, they can play The Faces at that game any day. Anyway, stories have it that Rikki Farr has recently taken a great interest in their welfare and well-being, and he always thinks big, after all — MICHAEL WATTS.

Note: Review is for November 3, 1971 (W), Country Club, Belsize Park, London

Nitpicking: Mike’s surname was McCarthy, not McGrath.


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