|Sounds November 11, 1972
By Ray Telford
AROUND three months ago when Patto were pretty well through recording their
third album, I remember Mike Patto telling me how incredibly happy he was with
what the band had put down but that he sure wasn’t going to start shouting his
mouth off at anybody who didn’t happen to dig it.
What it boils down to, quite simply, is that the Patto have mellowed in a weird kind of way. Mike recalled a time when the band got really embittered about their apparent lack of acceptance when they knew damn fine that they were playing some of the finest mixtures of rock and roll music in the country. In short, they’ve learnt you can’t grab a prospective punter by the coat collar and start screaming at him that if he’d any taste he’d be bound to get off on YOUR music.
Patto’s previous two albums were both very precise affairs. They proved, for example, that Olly Halsall was no slouch on guitar, piano and vibes, that Patto himself was an excellent singer and songwriter and that John Halsey and Clive Griffiths could play the ass off almost any other rhythm section outside of the US, but Mike agrees both records had a kind of steely hardness about them which kept you very much at arms’ length.
Part of the problem, he says, lay in the production techniques used on the first two albums: "They were technically very well produced and all the playing was a real gas," Patto began, "but there was a certain warmth, which the band have on stage, that was lacking. The new one, though ("Roll ‘Em Smoke 'Em Put Another Line Out") has that sort of warmth and that's because we more or less produced it ourselves. Everything on it is just pure Patto and nothing else."
On first listening I found the new album a vague letdown and I didn’t care for the group’s production one iota. Subsequent listenings, however, have convinced me that Patto have come up with a refreshingly unique piece of work which flows naturally from beginning to end. Mike’s alive to the fact that a lot of people may find the feel of "Roll ‘Em" a bit strange but adds that even if you’ve never heard any of the other Patto albums, this one would be a good introduction to the band and if you did get into the other two then this one has everything they lacked.
Patto have recently returned from a very heavy American schedule as support band to Joe Cocker and the Chris Stainton Band. Mike found working in the States "a mindblowing experience" and already feels that the Cocker tour, which also took in Australia and New Zealand has helped broaden the band’s outlook.
"Before we played our first gig in the States," said Mike, "we got a lot of advice from a lot of different people about what sort of things we should give the crowds. Like, we were told to cool the looning around on stage and just keep the music rocking and we did just that on the first few but it felt so unnatural for us to go on like that so we just said fuck it and went ahead and did our own thing. After that the whole thing was a gas."
Mike tells you he’s more confident about the future now than he was, say six or seven months ago, In the past Patto's progress has undoubtedly been held up through a series of management setups, who, although all had good intentions, never seemed to have the experience necessary to bring the band to a wider audience.
They’re now under the management of Nigel Thomas, the man responsible for getting Cocker back on the road, and Mike says the band are pretty well satisfied with the way things are looking.
In the meantime Patto are back on the British rock circuit only this time
they’re likely to notice they’re playing to more people than just the hard
core of fans who have always turned up at Patto’s gigs no matter what. Anyway,
the new album is a big step forward and one which, as one American Patto freak
called it, could quite truthfully be canned Patto’s "Sergeant
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