Patto – one of the truly underrated and criminally overlooked bands of the 70s – at least as far as the U.S. was concerned. Formed in 1970 from the remains of Timebox, a band which consisted of Mike Patto on vocals, Ollie Halsall on Guitar, Clive Griffiths, bass and John Halsey on drums, who were together from 1967-1969 and had five singles out on Deram before calling it quits. Mike Patto reformed the band and renamed it Patto. They were initially signed to the newly formed Philips imprint Vertigo, where the band released two albums, under the guidance of Muff Winwood, A&R exec, as well as brother of Steve Winwood and former member of the Spencer Davis Group.
Going from guitar-based blues-rock and transitioning into Prog-Rock, they had moderate success via their same-titled debut album, Patto which was recorded live in the studio. After their second album Hold Your Fire was issued, amid disappointing sales, the band was dropped from Vertigo, but Winwood, closely associated with Island Records via brother Steve, got the band signed there in 1972, where they issued Roll ’em, Smoke ’em, Put Another Line Out, which made a slight dent in the U.S. via FM Underground and prompted a tour (where they played the Whiskey and yours truly caught them one night). It was no secret that Ollie Halsall was one of the great guitarists on the scene – as is evidenced by this concert gig just before their breakup. He has been cited as a major influence among a number of guitarists at the time. But like so many bands from this period – it was a matter of timing and label support – and even though Island did their level best, the playing field was jammed with bands and eyes were looking in the direction of Glam as the next big genre, and they quietly dissolved at the end of 1973. Mike Patto and Ollie Halsall did resurface as Boxer, a group along similar lines, but heading more in a Glam direction.
Sadly, both Mike Patto and Ollie Halsall are gone – Mike Patto died in 1979 and Ollie Halsall died in 1992.
This concert, a rare recording done for BBC Radio 1’s In Concert Series, gives you an idea that this wasn’t your typical rock band – they were extraordinary talents. But as is the case with so many bands throughout the Rock era, they just weren’t heard by enough people. Lucky for everyone there is evidence.