Esoteric Records, a Cherry Red Records label, have released yet another box set of albums. As per usual with Cherry Red, the label have assembled the work of an obscure artist. In the case of Give It All Away, this set is devoted to UK prog/blues/jazz rock band Patto. The four-CD box set consists of the band’s entire discography, along with a plethora of liner notes. Give It All Away is another impressive box set and arguably the definitive intro to Patto’s music.
A little history
Patto were formed around 1970 from the ashes of psychedelic pop band Timebox. The band consisted of singer Mike Patto, guitarist Ollie Halsall, bassist Clive Griffiths and drummer John Halsey. The band were eventually signed to Vertigo Records, releasing their debut in 1970. In their career, Patto would record four albums- with three of them being released between 1970 to 1972. The fourth album, recorded in 1973, was shelved until 1995 as an unauthorized release.
Given that this is a set of albums, I will be writing the rest of this review album by album.
From its raw energy to its heavy riffs, Patto’s debut album is a fun album to listen to. According to the liner notes, the band recorded this in a short amount of time given that they didn’t have enough money to stay in the recording studio for very long. The guitar riffs from Ollie Halsall really make this album what it is, with singer Mike Patto lending his blues-laden vocals to each tune. While an enjoyable album, it does veer off from time to time into some jazz rock noodling- which gets old quickly. Still, the rawness of this album makes this worth a spin.
Highlights: Hold Me Back, Red Glow, San Antone, Sittin’ Back Easy
Hold Your Fire (1971)
By the time the band recorded their sophomore effort, Patto had become a tighter band musically. This tightness is captured on Hold Your Fire, which is yet another solid album from the band. Once again, Halsall and Patto deliver the goods in terms of guitar riffs and vocals. Even some of the lyrics are surprisingly humorous. While a slick sounding album, the raw and heavy sounds found on the debut album are missing on here. Even then, Hold Your Fire manages to be a fine album.
Highlights: Hold Your Fire, You You Point Your Finger, Magic Door, Give It All Away
Roll ‘Em, Smoke ‘Em, Put Another Line Out (1972)
Despite the solid production, Patto’s third effort isn’t as strong as the first two albums. The album’s first half is really good, with their blues rock sound now branching out to R&B and funk. Picking up where they left off on Hold Your Fire, the band sound really tight. Mike Patto’s voice is once again a highlight while Halsall plays some tasty guitar riffs. Had the album been more of that, I’d probably think better of this album. However, it’s the second side of the album where thing fall apart, with really middle-of-the-road blues tunes and weird “comedic” tracks. Despite the weak second half, Roll ‘Em is okay at best.
Highlights: Flat Footed Woman, Singing the Blues on Reds, Loud Green Song, Turn Turtle
Monkey’s Bum (recorded 1973, released 2017)
During the recording sessions for their fourth album, Ollie Halsall left the band. Despite this, the band finished the album. When no labels were interested, the album was shelved. Prior to being official released in 2017, bootleg copies of Monkey’s Bum are said to have been going around since 1994. Given that this is a somewhat incomplete/unfinished album, I don’t really think of this as a proper album. There’s some good music on here but after hearing the album a few times, I can barely remember any of the songs. If anything, there’s more of a commercial feel to these songs while still maintaining their bluesy sound. Other than that, this isn’t anything special.
Highlights: Last Night I Had a Dream, Sausages, Hedyob, General Custer
After Patto’s split in 1973, the members of the band continued their careers in music. Mike Patto and Ollie Halsall would work together again in 1975 in a new band called Boxer. Halsall left the band after the release of the debut while the band would continue until Patto’s untimely death in 1979 to lymphatic leukemia. Halsall and drummer John Halsey were involved in Eric Idle’s Beatles parody band the Rutles. Halsey played the role of drummer Barry Wom while Halsall provided the bass/vocals for Idle character Dirk McQuickly. With Halsall’s death in 1992 and bassist Clive Griffith’s serious injuries sustained in a car accident in the 1980s, Halsey is the lone member of the band interviewed for the liner notes in this box set.
Give It All Away is another solid set from Cherry Red Records. While I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of all of the music here, the thought and care the label puts into these releases is impressive. Similar to this year’s Curved Air box set, this set seems to be a set of reissues: these albums were reissued and remastered by Cherry Red within the last few years. For this release, all of the albums have been housed in the familiar clamshell packaging from Cherry Red, along with a booklet filled with liners notes for each album. The liner notes give some good insights into the band’s history, despite John Halsey being the lone band member interviewed. If you owned any of these albums before and/or what to get into the music of Patto, look no further: this set has it all.
I'm a writer/journalist with a passion for music and pop culture. Having graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2014, I've been looking for a platform in which I can share my passions. Since 2009, I've been posting to my own blog- The Walrus' Music Blog- via Blogger. I'm also the author of two self-published books, "The Camp: Stories from the Summer" and "The College: Stories from King's." Together, the two books cover the story of my life from 2004 to 2014. I've been lucky enough to interview several of my favorite musicians over the years and go to concerts from time to time. I'm also very devoted to the CBS reality TV show Survivor, which I started watching in 2002 when its fourth season started. I currently live in New Jersey.