This 2-CD set consists of Patto’s second album, Hold Your Fire which was originally released in December of 1971 on the Vertigo label, and now reissued by Esoteric Recordings. After the release of their sole self-titled debut album in 1970, the album didn’t do that well and Vertigo wanted the band to do another album as Muff Winwood was brought back to the studio to produce their next album.
The album was recorded at Island Studios in Basing Street as the band decided that it was time to show some improvements of what they could have done on their debut. What that meant was that it gave them time on both of the arrangements and overdubs while it showed a self-confidential side to them and building up their sound with both of the blues, jazz, and soul in their roots.
Ollie channels his improvisations of Jazz Rock to keep the essence flowing of Holdsworth’s technique like a train going at full speed with the Air Raid Shelter while You, You Point Your Finger deals with the struggle with fame and the price that is paid with it. With its haunting melodies and social commentary, Mike pours his soul on the issue for its powerful composition as Ollie’s melodic/harder edge, makes you feel as if he is taking you to the dark side of the music industry.
See You At The Dance Tonight is a mid-tempo piano blues rockin’ number. Not only that, but I could tell it is an essence of Rod Stewart and the Faces almost as if they could have written this song for them during the sessions for Ooh La La as Ollie shreds through the midsection as John Halsey’s drumming follows beside him. The two bonus tracks on the first CD features Beat the Drum which at first starts off with a jazzy improvisation.
The first few minutes gives Clive Griffiths a chance to come forward as his bass line brings it in. As he and John follow Ollie’s vibes, the stop-and-go moments gives Mike’s vocals delve into some of the issues of what was happening during that time period while Bad News shows more of Ollie’s virtuosity. It shows that he’s more than just a guitar player. He and Bernie Holland share together on their instruments in the lead and rhythm guitar structures.
The second CD contains two performances that Patto did for the BBC sessions including BBC Radio One’s In Concert introduced by John Peel and the other three for a summer session for Sounds of the 70s along with alternate mixes of the last three tracks from the sessions at Island Studios. Listening to these sessions, makes you want to close your eyes and imagine yourself being in the audience watching this band going into town to deliver the goods during the time they were promoting their debut album.
When Hold Your Fire was released in December of that year, the album didn’t sell. And Vertigo dropped the band. And soon they were still on the road for supporting acts including Stackridge, Genesis, Bell & Arc, May Blitz, Van Der Graaf Generator, and Genesis for a festival. Listening to their second album, it shows that this was a band that was so far ahead of their time and often overlooked in the history of the progressive rock genre.
The 20-page booklet contains liner notes done by Sid Smith which included an interview with John Halsey about the making of the album. It also contains posters, promos, reviews, including a picture of Centipede which Mike Patto participated with Keith Tippett for the Septober Energy album and performances they did in London and Europe. Pictures of the band, and of course the Lyceum Easter Festival they did with some of the progressive bands they were on the bill with as I’ve mentioned a second ago.
The band would later be with another label on Island Records due to Muff’s connection with them as they would release their next album in 1972 entitled; Roll ‘em Smoke ‘em Put Another Line Out.