I was lucky enough to see Patto play in the early 70’s on a double~bill with Argent. It was Argent who were the headlining act because of their current hit single ‘ Hold Your Head Up ‘ but it was Patto who stole the show for me even though they were plagued with a bad sound system on the night. The reason that they stole the show was because all members of the band were outstanding players with plenty of backbeat and they seemed to not take themselves too seriously on stage laughing and joking all the way through their performance. Their humour was to also come across on the vinyl releases.
The band put out three great albums which were ‘ Patto ‘ (1970) and ‘ Hold Your Fire ‘ (1971) on the new Vertigo label and the classic ‘ Roll ’em Smoke ’em Put Another Line Out ‘ which was released on Island Records in 1972.
Their producer on all three albums and a big supporter of the band was Muff Winwood, the brother of Stevie Winwood and the original bass player in the Spencer Davis Group who went on to be the head of A&R at Island Records and the producer of the first Dire Straits album. An all round music man.
In the late 60’s the band started out as a 5 piece named Timebox and dented the charts slightly with their single “Beggin” before dropping down to a 4 piece and changing their name to Patto after the singer’s name.
Their first self~titled album Patto starts off with the song “The Man” and straight away on the first track you know you are going to be in for something good as the song builds and then leads into a vibraphone solo from guitarist Ollie Halsall. This band can rock with a slightly jazzy feel and all four parts are equally brilliant! but in Ollie they had an outstanding guitar slinger who would be in my top ten all time favourites for sure ~ just listen to the solo on ” Red Glow ” and “Hold Me Back ‘ with the rest of the band pushing him along and also the great overlooked Mike Patto on vocals.
Sales were poor on the first album but they were back in the studio and on tour with Ten Years After so things looked rosy!. ” Hold Your Fire ” starts off with the eight minute epic title track with the band in great form but once again the sales were not there and as Muff Winwood became head of A&R at Island the boys moved to the label with him.
Roll ’em Smoke ’em was released in 72 and what an album it is with every track being great ~ slightly different from the previous two with Ollie playing more piano and keyboards on this one but this band had come of age and if you know any guitar players that are into metal or rock playing then I think they should have a listen to ” Loud Green Song ” on this album and then think again about what they are playing! ROCK ON OLLIE!
Sadly this was it for the band as their sound fell on deaf ears and the band turned turtle but they have left behind them three beauties and all of them are a valuable addition to any collection.
Members of the band were :
Mike Patto on Vocals : Mike went off to join Spooky Tooth after trying to hold Patto together for so long, then got back together with Ollie Halsall in Boxer before being diagnosed with Leukemia and this fighter passed away on the 4th of March 1979, and he is still singing the blues on red. A great loss!
Ollie Halsall on Guitar : Ollie played with Allan Holdsworth and Jon Hiseman in Tempest for a while before becoming Kevin Ayers sidekick touring and playing some great guitar on his albums before moving to Spain where he passed away in 1992 from a heroin overdose. What a waste!
Clive Griffiths on Bass : I met Clive one evening at Kings Cross station in the mid 70’s and he was driving a taxi to make ends meet and was playing in Joe Brown’s band but tragedy was to strike the Patto’s again! Both Clive and drummer John were on their way home from a gig with Joe’s band~ one minute they were driving the next they were in intensive care. The driver of an on coming car had slipped into sleep and hit them head on with Clive now being paralysed and suffers from memory loss and can’t even remember the Patto’s.
John “Admiral” Halsey on Drums: After Patto John joined Neil Innes in Grimm’s before becoming a member of the highly successful Rutles project. John also along with Clive suffered bad injuries from the car accident but has recovered with his sense of humour intact
For flat footed women everywhere!