ROCK Magazine, 12-18-72


"Roll ‘Em Smoke ‘Em
Put Another Line Out"

"….a successful exercise in restrained surrealism"

By John Swenson

Patto is one of the few really good English groups that haven’t been hyped to death in the U.S. As a result, they’ve built up a pretty solid underground following here, mainly on the strength of their last album, Hold Your Fire, which featured a rather bizarre approach to songwriting and a greased lightning delivery from lead guitarist Ollie Halsall.

Taken as a whole, the new Patto album, Roll ‘Em Smoke ‘Em Put Another Line Out, is less impressive than Hold Your Fire, but the individual songs on this album that work surpass anything the group has done in the studio. The first cut, "Singin The Blues on Reds," is probably the best song this group has recorded, a successful exercise in restrained surrealism vaguely centered around life on the road. When you hear the lyrics, it’s easy to see why Mike Patto describes the group as a combination of "a little smack of anarchy and a sad, realistic insanity."

"Flat Footed Woman" is an R&B tune done Patto style, wherein Mike Patto gets a chance to show off his stuff. His is a good voice, with just enough rasp to give him style and enough slur to enable him to honk free. His phrasing technique makes seeming nonsense lines ("I’m like a deaf mute who’s told he’s got bad breath") work very well.

But the album is not without its bad moments. "Mummy," drummer John Halsey’s rather flat attempt at comedy, really grates, and must be skipped over in order to appreciate an otherwise fine side.

"Whatever you do, don’t make it sound like Sergio Mendes," someone screams at the start of "Loud Green Song." This is a real goodie with a dominant guitar part for Halsall, the only full-fledged guitar song on the side. Producer Muff Winwood, outdoes himself here, finding a great tone for Halsall’s guitar.

As good as side one (with the exception of "Mummy") is, side two is not. "Turn Turtle" and "I Got Rhythm" are both good songs, but "Peter Abraham" is less than great and "Cap’n ‘P’ and the Attos (Sea Biscuits parts 1 & 2)" is a pretty pointless track that really seems to be there just to fill space. John Halsey had a hand in that one as well, and I hope the group keeps him from such indulgences in the future. Still, the album is worth hearing for the few gems it contains, even though they’re not the type you’d choose for a friendship ring.

John Swenson


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