Rolling Stone Magazine, 11/23/72
Roll ‘em Smoke ‘em
BY JON TIVEN
|Although Patto has exhibited a penchant for
eccentricity in their previous efforts, not even from a bunch of loonies
such as they could one expect an album as bizarre as this. Once a group
noted for recording covers of Four Seasons hits and cutting demo tapes
while under the influence of cough syrup, Patto (nee Timebox) have
graduated to the school of album-as-a-singular-concept. Roll ‘em
Smoke ‘em Put Another Line Out is, although it may sound absurd,
the missing link between Abbey Road and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Patto consists of Olly Halsall (guitarist/pianist), Mike Patto (vocal/piano), John Halsey (percussion/speaking voice) and Clive Griffiths (bass guitar). They’ve been playing together for five long years and are virtuosos all. This, coupled with the Halsall/Patto song writing team’s block-busting ability of combining unusual chord structures with exceptionally witty lyrics, makes Patto one of my personal faves.
The album kicks off with their latest single, "Singing the, Blues on Reds," a funky number wish words intended, I suppose, to provide a sequel to "So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star." Patto continues with a love song to a sweetie with a paw impediment, "Flat Footed Woman," a keen little tune which starts off rather slowly but picks up after some fooling around on the 88's. John Halsey’s song "Mummy" might easily go down as the farthest thing from a drum solo that a percussionist has ever written, and giving this particular track a listen is twice as necessary as solving the Riddle of the Sphinx. Side one closes with Patto indulging themselves in a heap of rock & roll noise, spotlighting on Olly Halsall’s ludicrous guitar wailing above the electrical commotion.
Side two continues in a similar vein, commencing with "Turn Turtle," an invigorating and woeful tale of a poor lad whose object of affection has a touch of frigidity—"When I touch you, you scream/ You turn turtle, play dead." Next comes the low point of the album, "I Got Rhythm," a dragged-out number which wouldn’t rate at all if it weren’t for Olly’s fluid and furious guitar runs. Patto closes the side with a two-part oceanic tale, the first segment being an infectious ditty from Olly, and part two tying up the loose ends, a crazed studio excursion capable of making both the Bonzo Dog Band and the Firesign Theatre pee in their trousers with delight.
Patto has succeeded in the pass with writing tunes capable of stopping the human heart and soloing in such a way that the tune is continuously interesting. With this new one, however, the band has cut a disc which ties together perfectly without sacrificing song quality, and they deserve fame, fortune and critical acclaim.
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