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Patto: Patto

Album Notes

Criminally underrated at the time, but borne into legend by the unspeakable tragedies that awaited its makers, the debut album by Patto can safely be described among the finest jazz-rock fusion albums ever cut by a British band. Mike Patto's vocals certainly match that billing, a throaty, emotive sound that puts one in mind of the effect that Steve Winwood spent much of his career pursuing, while first lieutenant Ollie Halsall's reputation as one of the era's hottest guitarists is revealed as only one of the strings to his bow -- early into the opening "The Man," he unleashes a mean vibraphone solo as well. However, "Hold Me Back" quickly restates his lead duty and, though the song itself is little more than a crude rewrite of the Rolling Stones' "Stray Cat Blues," the riffs that scythe through the brew are sparkling enough to camouflage any lyrical redundancies. "Money Bag," too, offers up a showcase that is difficult to shake, dueling with a scat rhythm section that is tasteful enough to eat, but never overwhelming the mood. The passing of time has not preserved all of Patto's joys -- like so much of the fusion of the age, there are elements that sound preposterously overwrought today. At its best, however, it re-establishes all the glories for which Patto was renowned at the time; at its very best, it occasionally even overpowers the group. ~ Dave Thompson


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