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Jeff Monk Reviews – May 2017

Jeff Monk Reviews – May 2017

Patto: Roll ‘em Smoke ‘em Put Another Line Out (Esoteric Recordings)

For their 1972 third album progressive rockers Patto pulled out all the so-called stops to try and get heard beyond their base, which in all honesty was thin on the ground. “Roll ‘em…” is a problematic album to say the least and a set that may not necessarily pull you onto the Patto bandwagon immediately. The album opens with a patently weird intro that tries very hard to be Zappa-esque but really only makes you wonder why they bothered when the song that follows is the splendid “Flat Footed Woman”. Here the band revels in their distinct sound pitched somewhere between Little Feat, The Band and early Elton John and his band. Of course vocalist Mike Patto and guitarist Ollie Halsall were always the centres of the action in this quartet with equal measure given to the raging, roll-filled kit work of drummer John Halsey. “Singing The Blues On Reds” is an ode of sorts to soul/funksters like James Brown with full debt paid to a stretched tight beat and interesting rhythm breaks showing Patto’s dynamic musical range perfectly. “Mummy” is an exasperating bit of spoken word nonsense that, if the band had any kind of direction back in the day, would have been left off the album completely. “Loud Green Song” stands as the best track here and if the band had leaned more in this almost punk rock/Social Deviants like direction one wonders how events may have turned out for them. On balance Patto on “Roll ‘Em…” is a talented band at lost tether as to a direction as they can’t settle on whether they are more about looning, lyrics or licks and in the end, this nullifies the record’s impact as a whole. Includes three 1973 vintage Peel Session bonus tracks not on the original album with 16-page full colour liner booklet.

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Patto: Monkey’s Bum (Esoteric Recordings)

While Patto’s direly titled 1973 album “Monkey’s Bum” was never officially released at the time it perhaps should have been. The awkward humour of the band has been dialed back here and what remains is an excellent set of tracks that deliver Mike Patto’s voice in a tonal range that he sounds comfortable in. The songs are less complicated and actually provide an improved sense of the bands’ strengths and don’t lose impact due to overly complicated musical arrangements. Opener “My Days Are Numbered” is a jazzy driver that leads into the solid trio of Randy Newman’s “Last Night I Had A Dream”, the radio-ready “Sugar Cube 1967” and the energetic “I Need You”. “Good Friend”, with its Elton John-like atmosphere is another track that would have suited radio well at the time and the Halsall penned and sung “Sausages” is further proof that this guy could have been at least a firm pub rock contender if the era had only been a little different for him. Three sonically dismal live 1973 Peel Session bonus tracks round out this hidden gem of an album. It made perfect sense that Patto broke up at the time of “Monkey’s…” non-release. Each of these sets shows a diverse crew ready and able to succeed yet without a method to distil what they did best into a tangible vision on vinyl.

(Roll ‘Em…:11 tracks – 60 minutes, Monkey’s Bum: 13 tracks, 52 minutes. Both remastered and expanded)

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Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow: Stranger In Us All – Expanded Edition (Cherry Red Recordings/HNE Recordings)

For this particular 1995 slice of the enormously convoluted Rainbow pie leader, Ritchie Blackmore again formed a new band and singer around himself to see what would come of it. Indeed “Stranger…” is pretty solid album when you actually disentangle it from the times that it was created and take a discerning look at its’ remaining pluses and minuses as a melodic, hard rock set. The band (Paul Morris/keyboards, Greg Smith/bass, John O’Reilly/drums and over-emotive singer Doogie White along with Blackmore squeeze Candice Night on BVs) are to be commended for working hard on these tracks and although for the entire album it does sound like the old Man In Black – U.K. Version is rather phoning in his contributions a great deal does work. Opening track “Wolf To The Moon” features plenty of fiery licks and a few informal whammy bar dive bombs by Blackmore while White sets the tone as Ronnie James Dio Mk. IV. With so-called “grunge” music floating everyone’s commercial musical boats as it were at this time there is a sense that “Cold Hearted Woman”, the Zeppelin-esque “Hunting Humans (Insatiable)” and the opening of the Kashmir-like “Ariel” could have been contenders for radio play if the band had not been under Blackmore’s complete and some would say worn-out musical vision. “Too Late For Tears” sounds like any fluffy American metal from the mid-nineties but as a polar opposite “Black Masquerade” has all the pure Rainbow elements fans would expect. Replete with economical keyboard strings effects and Blackmore’s gothic solo at the outro adding gravitas to this burner this track should be a stand-out for fans. Electric Light Orchestra and The Yardbirds recorded versions of Grieg’s “Hall Of The Mountain King” and “Still I’m Sad” better respectively but since Blackmore was inches away from going full Renaissance Fayre with his music (see: Blackmore’s Night) these songs foreshadow what was to come. The three bonus tracks are rarities for and include an originally Japan only take of “Emotional Crime”. Nicely packaged with interesting liner notes including a personal account essay by Doogie White.

(13 tracks CD – 66 minutes)

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Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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May 22, 2017 By : Category : Eyeplugs,Music,Reviews,Rock Tags:, , , ,
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