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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Patto - Patto


Formed out of the ashes of Timebox, Patto brought the combinations between Jazz, Soul, Hard Rock, Blues, and Progressive Rock rolled into one in 1970. It’s a quite an amazing touch between some killer musicians. The late great Mike Patto just kills it on his lead vocals with his soulful arrangements. Then there’s Ollie Halsall who among supporters including XTC’s Andy Partridge, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, and Allan Holdsworth to name a few, is perhaps one of the most overlooked left-handed guitarist who never got the recognition he deserved. Not to mention drummer John Halsey and bassist Clive Griffiths into the foreplay in the rhythm section.

Their sole self-titled debut originally released on the Vertigo label in that same year, the band recorded the album with producer Muff Winwood at Island Studios in Basing Street in London, shows the power, the electricity, and the thunderous beats that Patto brings that is like volcano waiting to erupt at the right moment. You have the opening track, The Man which sounds like the could have been used in a sequence from the 1973 blaxploitation film, Black Caesar featuring Fred “The Hammer” Williamson walking towards the streets of New York as if he’s honored and shows his stamp of approval throughout the section of Harlem.

Money Bag begins with Clive’s bass leading into a winding groove followed by Halsey’s intensive grooves on his kit followed by Ollie’s off-the-wall guitar going up and down through his improvisation while Government Man which Andy Votel sampled on the 2005 Vertigo Mixed compilation, shows him more than just a guitarist, but playing the vibraphones near the end of the last 30 seconds of the piece to give a moody end as Clive’s melodic bass closes it out.

Red Glow sounds at first sounds almost like a session straight out of John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band and Imagine-era, but the engine gets all revved up to go. It begins with a reverb effect by Ollie that channels both of those two albums through his riffs, rhythm, and lead sections. He can take it up a notch whenever he would know where the band was going. It’s not just a powerful composition, but damn, Halsall is like a lightning ready to strike at any moment for the thunder at the right moment.

The three bonus tracks which are a part of a reissue done by Esoteric Recordings contains a 14-minute wildly improvisation turned into a ‘70s hard rock voyage with riffs and leads and done in the style of a heavier version between Allan Holdsworth, Blood, Sweat and Tears and Atlantis featuring Inga Rumpf on Hanging Rope. Then, there’s two live recordings done on BBC Radio One’s Sound of the ‘70s Session they did on November 3, 1970 performing Love Me and Government Man.

The 16-page booklet contains liner notes done by Sid Smith about the history about the making of their debut album, a history of the band’s formation, and an interview with John Halsey. It also contains photographs and live ads of Patto. This is an incredible reissue that just took me by surprise. I first heard about them 12 years ago on the 3-CD set of Time Machine: A Vertigo Retrospective 1969-1973 and of course the sample mix dedicated to the swirling logo done by DJ Andy Votel with Vertigo Mixed.

If you love the gems from the Vertigo releases of the golden-era of the 1970s between Clear Blue Sky, Nucleus, Colosseum, Manfred Mann’s Chapter Three, and Cressida, then dig deeper into the drive of Blues-Soul-Hard Rock sound of Patto.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Led Bib - Umbrella Weather


It’s been three years since I’ve listened to the London based quintet, Led Bib. Since their formation back in 2003, they have released five albums from 2005 to 2014 along with two live releases. They were nominated for the Mercury Prize for their third album, Sensible Shoes and received a 2005 Peter Whittingham Jazz Award for their debut, Arboretum. The quintet have never disappointed me with their essence of Experimental, Modal Jazz, and Punk Rock mixed into a giant blender and it sounds like a snarling beast ready to attack.

I first became aware of Led Bib’s music after hearing some of their music both on Prog Rock Deep Cuts with Ian Beabout and Sid Smith’s Podcasts from the Yellow Room. I can remember buying their fifth album, The People in Your Neighborhood on Wayside Music with my graduation money. And I was hooked. And then all of a sudden I completely forgotten about them....until this year.

They have released their sixth album entitled, Umbrella Weather on a new label with RareNoise Records. This is a Holy Shit release so far this year. It is a volcanic roar. And among one of those supporters is the godfather of punk himself, Iggy Pop who played their music on Iggy Confidential on BBC Radio 6. The album is like looking down the barrel of a gun and seeing if it is ready to reign hell and sweating bullets to kill.

Opener, Lobster Terror which sounds like a ‘50s Sci-Fi B-Movie (think Fiend Without a Face), kicks things off with a bang. The band channel Radiohead’s The National Anthem from the Kid A album. With its intense grooves, mid-tempo fast and exhilarating arrangements, Led Bib roars down like a flaming fire as if going into a gigantic blaze of glory. Fields of Forgetfulness is a tidal wave of destruction as if John Coltrane has hypnotized both Chris Williams and Pete Grogan’s alto saxophones while Mark Holub channels Elvin Jones with Too Many Cooks.

Screeching vibrations on one of their shortest compositions, the quintet delve into a haywire effect. On The Roundabout is a Brazilian-Swing Spacey Jazz Rock adventure. Donin’s intriguing bass lines and Toby’s chilling keyboards sets a scenario before Holub’s drums and the alto saxophones delve into the essence of King Crimson’s Lizard-era as the intense pulsating beats reach climax for the last three minutes in a trippy finale.

Toby’s keyboards takes you beyond the stratosphere and through the outer limits with Insect Invasion. This is another spaced and freak-out adventure thanks to the reverb and delay effects that he brings. He shows no sign of stopping. It’s almost as if he’s the new commander of the starship enterprise and telling his bandmates to make the jump to light speed as it ends in the styles of the New Orleans Jazz groove a-la Preservation Hall style!

Led Bib creates maximum volume and unexpected territories they bring to the Umbrella Weather. They are like a battering ram ready to swing down and bring the sever and extreme brilliance to the Jazz sound and I can imagine they are giving Kenny G the big giant middle finger to show real Jazz is supposed to sound. And they delivered it well. Play this bad-boy really, really, really Loud!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Magenta - We Are Legend


It’s been four years since we’ve heard from Magenta after the release of their 2013 album, The Twenty-Seven Club. The band have been very, very, very busy lately. Robert Reed has been doing work with Kompendium and his Sanctuary albums released in 2014 and a new one released last year, Christina Booth has released two solo albums from 2010 to 2015, and both of them appeared together on the Spectral Mornings EP release with Nick Beggs, Adam Hodgson, and Steve Hackett to name a few.

So it’s been a good while since we’ve heard some good music from them. This year, they’ve released their new studio album on the TigerMoth label entitled We Are Legend. There are three songs including one clocking in at 26-minutes! But it is a welcoming return for the trio and letting the fans know they are still here and never giving up on them. And Christina’s voice, will bring you to tears when she sings.

I first became aware of Magenta’s music nine years ago when I watched a live performance of them doing Demons from their Home album on YouTube. And I was completely blown away and I became a fan since then. 49 minutes of amazing music and astounding beauty. And added members including bassist Dan Nelson and drummer Jon Griffiths, you are about to be prepared to embark on a journey with the music of Magenta.

The opening track, Trojan begins with an eerie introduction done by Reed’s keyboards setting this post-apocalyptic wasteland that gives you the background what has happened before Chris Fry’s eruptive lead guitar roar. It reminisces between Steve Hackett’s playing and Muse’s Absolution-era a-la Matt Bellamy style that Chris does with those textures by bringing the two combinations as one.

Christina comes in to give you the story of Robots coming out of the sea as it’s inspired by some of the Japanese animated series. You can imagine this as an episodic rock opera done in the styles between Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, The Vision of Escaflowne, or Galaxy Express 999. It is a powerful and strong composition. Fry delivers well and I was completely surprised how he and Robert, who does his moog-like battle or floating to another scenario.

With orchestral sounds that made my arm-hairs go up, a mid-section haunting background with its Floydian vibe, Christina’s character in the song talks to the robot and knowing that both love and peace will happen one day. I love also that homage to Dark Side of the Moon with both the major and minor chords to honor the album that refuses to die.

Now for me, again I was surprised this piece clocked in at 26-minutes, but listening to this again and again, I fell in love with it and I was completely on the edge of my seat listening to this. Colours begins with an eerie lullaby with a toy piano-sque sound as it volcanically erupts between Reed, Fry, Nelson, and Griffiths. Fry delves into the blues whilst dipping his toe into the water on the delay/reverb effects.

The bluesy sections bring a different side to Magenta. Booth nearly goes into a style for a brief bit of the late great Janis Joplin. I can imagine them honoring the song Ball & Chain from Big Brother & the Holding Company’s second album, Cheap Thrills.

The piece is almost describing the listener of almost letting go of the past and present while moving on. Not to mention that little nod to Marillion’s Clutching at Straws-era in the last 3-minutes of the composition. The closing track, Legend which make listeners jump with that nod to the chilling classical nod to the alarming sound effect of THX, begins with a scenario of a battle that’s coming to an end.

It’s a sombering piece as Booth gives her force and energy by pouring it out as I can imagine her fighting back tears in the song as the piece staggers and shines brightly as you can the survivors are ready to have their own tomorrow’s for a new beginning and a new day. We Are Legend is a thrilling release this year.

And it makes us welcome Magenta back with open arms. Alongside their Symphonic and Orchestral side, Magenta bring the torch to life and as I’ve always said in some of the bands about the fires burning, Magenta makes sure that the flames never, ever, ever, ever burn out.