|Melody Maker August 7, 1971
CAUGHT IN THE ACT: PATTO
|HOW FAST things move in the pop business. When
I saw Patto last at Londonís Marquee the place was barely a third full
and there was room for one to lift oneís elbow without knocking the
drink out of someone elseís hand.
Slipping into the Wardour Street club on Friday, however, after little more than a month, I had to squeeze in among a nearly capacity audience there to see the group.
The word has gone out about Patto, and not before time, too. The band has been around for years, initially as Timebox and for the past 18 months under its present name. Although there has always been a hard core of enthusiasts, both among the general public and fellow musicians (Bob Fripp is a notable admirer), they have been bedevilled by a lack of publicity from their record company (Philips) and also by a certain cynicism about and lack of faith in the consistency of the publicís taste. No one could possibly level against them the accusation that they have come on too quickly.
The music is a curious mixture. Without guitarist Ollie Halsall, they could probably be termed a straightforward R and B band. Mike Patto sings tough as nails and stomps around the stage, just like they did in the good old days of the British blues boom; bassist Clive Griffiths is rock steady at the back, and drummer John Halsey swings without becoming too involuted (heís not "ricky ticky," to quote Ringo Starr).
Ollie Halsall, I suspect, is the one that many kids in the audience go along to see, and thatís not detrimental to the rest of the band; itís his gift that without being flash and playing to the gallery he naturally draws the attention to himself. He seems to be attracting the sort of guitar-freak cult that has surrounded people like Rory Gallagher and Alvin Lee in the past.
On Friday he played, as usual, with superfast liquidity, eschewing riffs and soaring into long spiralling breaks. He used to have a habit of playing twee phrases, sort of "Tea For Two," at one time, but his playing has now become much more to the point and does not meander all over the place. I can think of no other guitarist in Britain who plays anything at all like him.
The band as a whole has noticeably improved in the last few months, probably because they are gaining from the experience of making their second album. While they are not the greatest composers in the world, they are now making more concessions to melody and moving away from songs that stop and start all over the place -- that sort of ersatz jazz feel that was on their first album.
Theyíre a good band. Pick up on them sometime. -- MICHAEL WATTS.
[Return to Top of Page]