Roll 'em, Smoke 'em . . .


Singing the Blues on Reds

Revisiting these recordings, I was amazed not to have realised earlier that that Mike's Flat-footed Woman in the opening track was, of course, a policewoman. [Flat-foot being a 19th century slang expression based on the perceived result of patrolling the streets].

I was also re-affirmed of the sheer magnificence of Singing the Blues on Reds [which would probably have been a better album title than the actual one, with its improbable number of commas and apostrophes].

This sheer cosmic fusion, [likened, by Randall Earl, to the spawn of James Brown, Dave Brubeck and Howlin' Wolf!] must rank amongst Ollie, Mike, John & Griff's finest achievements. Interestingly, the original US release flipped the first two tracks, presumably to promote the more commercial opener.

If Hold Your Fire was Patto's Revolver, then Roll 'em is clearly the group's Sgt. Pepper. [Let a debate, similar to that regarding the Fabs albums, ensue concerning superiority.]Whilst Roll 'em is not so heavy on the old wizzo guitar as Fire, it does include the quite extraordinary Loud Green Song - widely considered the most insane piece of guitar playing ever comitted to tape and even cited as, possibly, the genesis of Punk. Elsewhere, I Got Rhythm and Peter Abraham, are beautifully understated fretboard gems.

It is probably fair to say that Mummy and, to a lesser extent, the Pythonesque [or, more accurately, Goon-esque] Sea Biscuits, do not stand-up too well to repeated listening. Perhaps at least one of them might have been better substituted with Holy Toledo [a song from roughly the same period, preserved only as part of a BBC Radio 1 session].

What remains quite wonderful, however, is that: a) these items should have been conceived in the first place, and: b) they were actually included on the record - Contrast this with the climate just one year later, when Island Records wouldn't release the far more conventional follow-up Monkey's Bum at all.

Barry Monks, July 2006

No one knows about them, but I've been talking about them for years: this is the one with 'Loud Green Song', 'Singing The Blues On Reds'. People associate me with straightahead rock'n'roll, but this is the stuff that I liked - I couldn't play it and I didn't try to play it.

"I don't know how I heard about Patto, but they seemed like irreverent guys. The singer, Mike Patto was also in Spooky Tooth and Boxer - you have to look at Boxer's album cover - and he died of cancer. Ollie Halsall was one of the best guitarists there was, left handed and he played unbelievably.

"I always liked songs better than I liked groups. Groups will let you down, but songs stand up on their own."


Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen
pictured with the Blue Traff guitar


Whilst the music may be wonderful, the cover lacked a bit of imagination. Maybe this featuring and excerpt from one of Ollie's paintings would have been an improvement.








This is the best review I have ever seen of any album, anywhere, ever. So, after trying without success to contact it's author, I have reproduced from Julian Cope's Head Heritage simply in case the link should disappear one day:

OK, let’s cut straight to the chase. When the Blues had a baby and they named it Rock ‘n’ Roll even they, down-with-the-kids parents they were, could not have foreseen the teenage delinquency of Patto’s Loud Green Song. If you haven’t heard Patto’s Loud Green Song, YOU HAVE TO HEAR PATTO’S LOUD GREEN SONG. But wait a minute, there’s more.

As the seventies got underway in London, hippiedom was casting off its kaftans and sandals and donning an altogether scuzzier uniform. Sure there was that Jesus bloke - banging his gongs and tootling his flutes down the front at every gig you went to, although even he admitted to his own slice of dirty realism, working as a toilet cleaner for Camden Council until ‘the straights’ were ready for the second coming - HE still wore bells on his toes, but for the rest of us the three-day-week look was desert boots, crushed velvet loon pants, stripey rugby shirts with the collar ripped off and tweedy jumble sale sports jackets (Wahey!). We tucked our hair behind our ears (like Dave Gilmour), popped mandys and downed light and bitter. The suedeheads and smoothies called us freaks, thinking it was an insult, and if somebody plugged an electric guitar into an amplifier, within the area defined by the circuit diagram of the London Underground, we’d be there. Magic Michael, The Pink Fairies and Hawkwind doing a benefit for International Times? Get in. Help Yourself and Ducks Deluxe at the art school dance? I think so. Man and Patto in a little college bar off the Finchley Road! C’MON!

Patto were a wondrous live band combining genius musicianship, fully recognised by the muso cognoscente of the day, with a penchant for irreverence that had them performing their acappella version of “Strangers in the Fucking Night” in 5/4 time, the extra beat in the bar to accommodate the expletive in every line. “...exchanging fucking glances, Wonderin’ in the fucking night, What were the fucking chances...” and including twisting competitions and dwarf choruses in their phun packed stage act. Patto were seriously funny but, more importantly, seriously SERIOUSLY good musicians and this twin aspected vibe was perfectly captured on ‘Roll ’em Smoke ’em Put Another Line Out’, their third studio album, self produced with help from Muff Winwood and Richard Digby Smith.

On the big old laminated cardboard cover, below the groups name lettered in the organic funky Hobo typeface, a warm redlight drenched photo shows the Pattos cranking it up live, left to right: Clive Griffiths, well sprung high slung bass and beard. John Halsey, drums and most amusing fellow - Can do the Jaki Leibezeit funky drummer thing and plenty big John Bonham/Simon Kirke bombast. Mike Patto, gangling across the spotlight tambourine aloft, all throaty vocals and libido. And lurking in the shadows stage right with Dennis the Menace jumper, dirty sneakers and left handed white 1967 custom Gibson SG, Ollie Halsall, about whom it has been said: “Ollie may not have been the best guitarist in the world, but he was certainly among the top two", which is probably an underestimation.

There is a view (not mine) that whilst with their first two albums for Vertigo, ‘Patto’ and ‘Hold Your Fire’, the band had been - on to something - with this, their Island debut they had been merely - on something - so it’s maybe apt that the first side opens woozily, a cheesy sci-fi ham intoning “S-o-u-n-ds from the i-n-s-i-d-e” before the door gets kicked in with a drugs bust: “OK, two of you round the back”, “It’s the fuzz!” introducing FLAT FOOTED WOMAN, Mike’s song of love for an arresting police constable. “I’ve got nothing but fear for the Big Heat. I’ve got nothing but love for your flat feet.” The Roll ’em Smoke ’em big soul sound is established here with battering drums, urging bass and insistent organ behind Mike’s blues shouting and Ollie’s beautifully clear, flurrying, rolling and tumbling piano. (Typically recalcitrant - Ollie, one fret away from total number one axe hero status, elects to play piano on fifty percent of this record).

SINGING THE BLUES ON REDS has Mike recounting the relentlessness of gigging (Patto did a European tour supporting Ten Years After and went to America and Australia with Joe Cocker as well as a handful of dates in Germany with The Faces - Can you imagine?) and John, Clive and Ollie locking into a one-drop funk-stop sex machine groove that just won’t quit... until it does and the whole thang breaks and heralded by chiming guitar chords we go somewhere else completely - “Bring me the keys to the City... Stick with me holy roadie and I’ll show you the world” before crashing back in, mashing it all up and if you go with them on this track you can almost make out the man with the licking stick himself urging “Get up uh, Get on up”. Hit it and quit! Perfect.

John Halsey can contain himself no longer on MUMMY and comes over all unnecessary with an adult nursery song that begins with him calling for his mother ’cos he’s scared of the dark and ends with her losing the leather underwear and sticking her tongue down his throat. Can I just say at this point that this is NOT a comedy album. No-siree-bob! Do not file alongside Python/Bonzos/Albertos. OK so they don’t take themselves too seriously. Whadya want, The Mahavishnu bleeding Orchestra?

A shouted caution (John again?) introduces the final track on side one: “WHATEVER YOU DO!...DON’T MAKE IT SOUND!...LIKE SERGIO MENDES!” and after someone’s made a half hearted attempt at a count in, Ollie picks his moment and lets loose a graunching guitar intro and a massive punkrock riff that both predates AND obliterates the James Williamson Stooges and Steve Jones Sex Pistols. On LOUD GREEN SONG (Yep, We’re there,) Ollie Halsall picks up the gauntlet thrown down by Jeff Beck and proceeds to slap every other guitarist in the whole wired world around the face with it. Hard! Again and again and again! While Mike Patto bares his chest and gets suitably megalomaniacal with the lyrical, something about messing around in Mesopotamia and flying his jet plane round the sun, the rhythm section get their heads down and barge the whole raging thing along, just about managing to hang on to Ollie who’s skidazzling away on a flight of extreme fretboarding frenzy. This is raw power filthy dirty rock ’n’ roll that you would not want to get in the way of, and - even having said that - I still have a suspicion that this was intended as some grand piss-take of Led Zeps heavy heavy monster sound. Whatever, Signor Mendes never sued for plagiarism.

Side Two opens with B. Bumble/Jerry Lee pianoFORTE and rollicks along with an ebbing and flowing melody as, supported by la-la-la-la falsetto backing, an increasingly agitated Mike moans his tale of sexual frustration on the self-explanotarily titled TURN TURTLE. “Don’t ever let me catch you lyin’ on yer back, or messin’ with your nightie on.” “You never lose your grip. You’re always in command. I’m telling you I’m losing control.” The rest of the band feel his pain and Ollie and John end up stroppilly seeing who can hit the keys/skins hardest. Mike Patto’s a great soul singer like Stevie Marriot, Chris Farlow or Roger Chapman even, are great soul singers, and he has a warmth, a really personable way with a lyric where he draws you into the character of a song. And the songs on here are songs you WANT to hear. I GOT RHYTHM is a fantastic song, Randy Newmanesque in the way Patto takes the role of insulter and insultee: “Grandfather A-Fri-Can, Big Lips, Heap Suntan.” “I got rhythm, Yeah yeah yeah. Why d’ya call me names?” and, namechecking Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, Paul Robeson and James Brown, challenges the lazy patronising racism that limits black achievement to athleticism and musicianship. A critic at the time of this record’s release wrote of bassist Clive Griffiths playing with a power and funkiness more akin to “our black brothers’’ and Mike singing “like a spade”. So there you go. This track has a sassy, bluesy vocal and Ollie’s lovely fluid guitar soloing (being an ex jazz viber his scales are more Coltrane than Hendrix) suspended over a snappy snaggy groove.

The Pattos lift Elvis’s spoken interuption to Milkcow Blues Boogie to launch Ollie’s song PETER ABRAHAM: “OK fellas, This thing don’t move. Let’s get r-e-a-l, r-e-a-l goin’ for a change”. And going they get with a stop start arrangement that has a whole heap of changes in pace and rhythm and style while Ollie relates the tale of a world traveller and the petty jealousies of those less fortunate left back home. Winds up with a doowopshowaddywaddy...wopshowaddywaddy chorus and a typically inventive bit of guitar and vocal improvisation by Halsall upon which whatever-he-plays-he-sings. Pushy, edgy, brilliant.

Right, 5 minutes of tape left, What have you got? A sea shanty? Why not?

I’ve been listening to this record for over 30 years and it still feels fresh. Warm jazzbluesfunksoulrockin’ with a big stoned grin. There’s no embarrassing lyrical mysticism or leaden boogie on here and po-faced it aint. Just a lovely bunch of blokes having a gas (Think The Faces kicking a ball around on Top of the Pops or The Fairies DOING IT! on the back of a truck down Portobello Road), so like I say, 30 years and counting for me. Now it’s your turn.

Reviewed by Valve , 27/10/2004

Head Heritage



I Got Rhythm

Jump high, swing low. Ready steady go man go
Work hard, wag my tail
Bare chest I'm a virile male
Six foot one son of a gun
Say my prayers when the day is done
Grandfather African. Big lips, heap sun tan
I love my dog, I love my dog
Ride the bus back in the cars
No more place to keep my face
When it's time it's still alright
I got rhythm, yeah yeah I got rhythm
Yeah yeah yeah
Why d'you call me names?
Why d'you call me names?

Levi suit, buckskin shoes
Yeah I dig jazz, I love my blues
I get stoned. I love to wail
Wam, tote that barge and lift that bail
Showbiz coon singing 'Big White Moon'
Dumb brothers doing easy in the afternoon
Got a dream all come true
Nobody's coming after you
Yes Sir, Boss. Yes Sir, Boss
Hit the hay. Lord Almighty
Look surprised I'm looking alright
Once on the job it's plain to see
I got rhythm, yeah yeah I got rhythm
Yeah yeah yeah
Why d'you call me names?
Why d'you call me names?

Joe Louis, Jesse Owen
sure had a good thing going
Liberal drunk, says he loves all niggers
Digs Paul Robeson singing 'Old Man River'
Looks concerned when I start to jive-ass
Ain't I glad to be alive
Shakes his head and starts to quiver, says: "Look here, boy, I played you 'Old Man River' "
I dig James Brown. I dig James Brown
Look to the left. Look to the right
Look on the black side if you like
When you ask me to stop I continue to buy
I got rhythm, yeah yeah I got rhythm.
Yeah yeah yeah
Why d'you call me names?
Why d'you call me names?

Mike Patto 1972

Loud Green Song

My black eye is too black to worry
My shoes is all covered in mud
there's a smile on my face for the whole human race
I'm as happy as a cow chewing cud
I've been messin' 'round in Mesopotamia
And I done it like a good boy does
I've been flying 'round the sun in my jet plane, baby
And I just came back to start another fuss

I've been staring in from outside your window
I've been talking to the morning dew
I've been breaking my back staring in through the cracks
I've been tryin' to catch a sight of you
I've been speeding round the floor of the ocean
I was pointed out and chased by the fuzz
I've been flying round the world in my jet plane, baby
And I just came back to start another fuss

Time was pressing me to put things right
But now in the law[?] just can't be beat
I began to wear pearls in my hair
Now I know I'll always end up on my feet

Mike Patto 1972


Singing' the Blues on Reds

When you move how your tambourine jangles
When you finish your song, you're in tangles
As you talk, everyone strains to hear you
They're hanging all around the walls for a clear view
From the floor open mouthed fascination
You stop everyone's hip conversation
You get paid far too much, so you tell them
But they roar with delight, so you just grin
Heh heh

Singing the blues on reds, sleeping in hotel beds
Singing the blues on reds, keeping an eye on the Feds
Singing the blues on reds, sleeping in hotel beds
Singing the blues on reds, keeping an eye on the Feds

If they heard it before, they go ape shit
A stoned chick burns her bra to your big hit
You shout "Joy to the world" and you wave
And you wonder if they're hip to Brother Dave

Then you slow it right down with a blueser
A Blind Man Sonny Howlin' Methuselah
As the guitar roars into his solo
They spotlight the bass, but it's all dough

Singing the blues on reds, sleeping in hotel beds
Singing the blues on reds, keeping an eye on the Feds
Singing the blues on reds, screwing in hotel beds
Singing the blues on reds, keeping an eye on the Feds

Blind with sweat, around the bend with emotion
You bring the band to a stop with a motion
As you rock to and fro, your head's shaking
You tell 'em "This one's the last", you ain't faking

You rock harder and louder each encore
You wave peace to the crowd, then there's no more
You sit dripping backstage feeling half dead
But you went a storm, and, man, you made so much bread

Singing the blues on reds, sleeping in hotel beds
Singing the blues on reds, keeping an eye on the Feds
Singing the blues on reds, screwing in hotel beds
Singing the blues on reds, keeping an eye on the Feds
They'll get ya

Hand me my golden overcoat
Give me my key to the city
Signal my trained rhinoceros for a quick getaway
Excuse me, would you hand me all that money?
Stick with me Holy Roadie, I'm gonna show you the world

Mike Patto 1972

Transcribed by Ken Thornton and
Colin Johnson

Turn Turtle

Don’t ever let me catch you lying on your back,
Or messin’ with your nightie on,
You’re always hot when I’m sleepin, you say,
But you blush if I just mention a bed,
And if I don’t come on just how you like it,
You turn turtle. Play dead.

Do you remember the time you first said you’d be mine,
I went and bought a diamond ring,
I’ve put the ring on your finger,
Bright lights flashed in my head,
You gave me the eye and you gave a big sigh,
You turn turtle. Play dead.

You never lose your grip; you’re always in command,
I’m telling you I’m losing control,
I’m always walking home aching,
My legs feel just like lead,
Cos’ just as I think that I’m getting somewhere,
You turn turtle. Play dead.

You dress so sexy makes me weak at the knees,
You look just like a movie star,
Yeah I’m always dying to be with you,
Everybody turns their head[s]
Just the thought makes me moan, but when I get you alone,
You turn turtle. Play dead.

You never let me inside when there’s no one in your house,
You tell me that it isn’t right,
Sometimes I think that I’m crazy,
I see you stretched out there on the bed,
Bathing in dreams, when I touch you, you scream,
You turn turtle. Play dead.

You kiss me dirty then expect me to stop,
You move away and leave me weak,
You say you’ll let down your family,
You tell me what your mama said,
But your mama’s alright, she’s getting hers every night,
Turn turtle. Play dead.

I tried so many times to tell how I feel
But it just don’t come out right,
I start out saying I love you,
You kiss me and you stroke my head,
My legs start to tremble and I grab you,
You turn turtle. Play dead.

Don’t ever let me catch you lying on your back,
I might just go insane,
You got the key to my one desire,
My love can’t wait to be fed,
But as we slip to the floor and I beg you once more,
You turn turtle. Play dead.

Mike Patto 1973

Transcribed by Duccio Dal Monte

Roll 'em on the PattoFan ste