|Sounds August 12, 1972
By Ray Telford
FOLLOWING A comparatively dormant past three months Patto are be ginning to feel the adrenalin flow more freely again.
Not that the band have been THAT quiet of late but it just seems to be that Patto going through a quiet spell still play with as much charge and energy that other bands only have when they’re peaking – if you see what I mean.
MIKE PATTO: madness in the music
Mike Patto, the band’s gargantuan singer (and more recently piano player), was talking at Island Studios last week about the two things uppermost in his mind at the moment…namely the release of the band’s third album and their forthcoming tour of America, Australia and Japan with Joe Cocker and The Chris Stainton Band.
Cocker’s manager Nigel Thomas apparently heard them play a couple of gigs and heard the tapes of the new album and as a result offered them the tour with Joe and also, as things weren’t going too well management-wise for the band, Thomas also offered to become their manager. Mike says they accepted because Nigel Thomas had a reputation for getting things done and it had been such a long time since anyone had really worked at getting Patto really moving.
The album, after sneaking a listen at a couple of completed tracks, sounds even wilder than anything they’ve put down. Mike says there’s a lot of madness in the music which has been a sort of overflow from their stage act, which has of late been featuring more of Patto’s very own brand of weird humour.
Observing my comments of Patto on stage, Mike says: "The amount of comedy we put across depends on how well the gig’s going. Naturally, if everybody’s getting on with us, you know, when we blow well and everything’s spontaneous then the comedy just pours out. But, you know, it all depends on how the mood takes you."
Musically, I have yet to hear Patto play a duff gig. Mike, too, says the band have never played so badly that its brought him down and that is quite a claim in anybody’s book: "You know what we’re gonna do some day," Mike said through one of those ambiguous smiles where you don’t know whether he’s serious or is about to come out with the most outrageous of untruths, "we're going to get into a Grateful Dead thing inasmuch as we’d play a monster set and just go through everything we know. That’d be a f--kin’ gas.
"Course we’re not in the position to do anything like that at the moment but it’ll come because we feel there’s a good buzz going for us right now. There’s so much we think we should be doing."
Patto have been playing together, Mike announces in the proudest of tones, for the past five years – first as Timebox then as Patto from around the summer of 1970. So after five years blowing together they have attained a kind of rock solid togetherness…just the kind you’d expect after five years.
Guitar player Ollie Halsall is most definitely THE most under-rated guitar player in the country at present (he is also no slouch on any kind of keyboard) and Clive Griffiths (bass) and John Halsey (drums) are ever hard at work pushing Patto’s voice constantly to its limit.
"Playing with the band," Mike says, "is a unique experience every night. Like Ollie is a unique guitar player but it doesn’t matter how involved he might get with his own playing the rest of the band just following him – naturally."
In the studio, too, things run so smoothly for Patto and the lads. Most of the tracks on the new album were all done in two takes each: "We get a feel in the studio straight off. We never have any problems about doing hundreds of takes."
By the end of this year Patto will be on the lips of considerably more people than they are at present and no one deserves it more than Patto. Lucky old Patto.
– RAY TELFORD
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