Friday, September 24, 2010


I thought I might have posted something about this band, and their most excellent first album from back in the seventies. I did a search and found I had not done anything about them, despite listening to their first album for over thirty years. If you like good original hard yet on the pop side of hard rock, like Bad Co., chances are that you'll like the first album of Boxer called BELOW THE BELT.

I well remember where I got my first Boxer album BELOW THE BELT. I was in Austin for a high school UIL competition and during our eating break we were browsing Dobie Mall at UT. The record store had a cut out bin, AND I found this album by Boxer, of which I had read a brief mention about in Rolling Stone, and got it for a dollar. One of the best dollars I ever spent.

Funny because at the time, the band students I was with were big jazz fusion fans, seeing themselves with far more highly developed taste and class than a mere mortal like me buying an album of some Brit band I had never heard, albeit for a buck. Might have been less than a buck back then. My drummer friends couldn't understand why the drummer in me wanted to listen to some groove drumming on a blues rock band they had never heard of.

After all, they reasoned, if THEY had not heard of a band, then undoubtedly that band was not worth listening to. In any event, I took some chiding over buying that album for some time, but I was pretty happy once it hit my turntable. I did a lot of playing my drums along with that album during high school, as their drummer had a great groove.

Some years later, in a Half Priced Book Store, I came across another LP copy of BELOW THE BELT in great shape, and snapped it up. So now I have two copies of this most excellent album, with it transferred to CD as well.

At some point in the seventies, also in a cut out bin as I recall, I bought their sophmore effort, which I didn't care for. I I think I ebay'd that second album about 10 years ago, when such things would actually sell on ebay. As I recall, it fetched a decent price, for what it was.

But back to Boxer. First of all, they were of that same Brit era of great rock and roll legend stars, just these level of guys never could hit that top tier of success it seemed. Shame, because this first album really rocked. I didn't see them live during their short tenure, but know someone credible who did, who maintains they rocked hard live and had great live chops.

Here's what Wiki says about the band...not much really...

Boxer was a rock band formed by keyboardist Mike Patto and guitarist Ollie Halsall in 1975. They signed to Virgin and three albums followed , Below the Belt (1975), Absolutely (1977) and Bloodletting (1979), which also featured Bobby Tench and Boz Burrell[1]. The band dissolved after Absolutely when Patto became ill.
The band was managed by Nigel Thomas who secured a five album deal over five years with
CBS, said to have been worth £1.2million.[2], which was never fully executed due to Patto's death on 4 March 1979. During a six year period Boxer also toured the US and Europe.

So I'd describe the music of Boxer as being in that same hard rocking yet still pop vein of Bad Company, with keyboards and often keyboard driven riffs. I had a lot of favorites on BELOW THE BELT, yet in more than 30 years of rock and blues band playing both with friends and pros, I've never been able to interest any of them in playing one meager selection from this album.

My favorites are the first four songs as listed below on the track list, with Hip Kiss being a very funky that reminds of the Red Hot Chili Pepper, but predating the Red Hots with this funky rock band tune by about 15 years or so. The Red Hots ought to do this tune.

Mike Patto, the founder and singer of the band, had a fire in his singing, at least on their first Boxer album

Here's what Wiki says about the BELOW THE BELT album and the members of Boxer:

Below the Belt (Boxer album)

Studio album by Boxer
Virgin Records, EMI
Boxer, Richard Digby-Smith
Boxer chronology
Below the Belt(1975)

Below the Belt was the debut album by Boxer, released on the Virgin label in January 1976. The album attracted less attention for its music than for its cover art.

Photographed by Alex Henderson with graphics by Richard Evans, the cover featured model Stephanie Marrian spreadeagled and naked but for a pair of shoes, with a man's arm reaching up between her legs and his boxing-gloved hand hiding her genitalia.

The back cover at first showed Stephanie in complete full-frontal nudity, but later pressings covered her up with the band's belt-styled logo. The cover was completely re-designed for the US market using the band photo from the inside of the UK gatefold cover.[1]

The lineup of this album is based around a live show quartet with keyboardist Chris Stainton brought in during the recording sessions.

Track listing, with my favorites in bold:

"Shooting Star" (Patto/Halsall)
"All the Time in the World" (Halsall)
"California Calling" (Patto/Halsall)
"Hip Kiss" (Patto/Halsall/Ellis/Newman)

"More Than Meets the Eye" (Patto)
"Waiting for a Miracle"(Halsall)
"Loony Ali" (Patto/Halsall)
"Save Me" (Patto)
"Gonna Work Out Fin" (Patto/Halsall)
"Town Drunk"(Stamp/Avery)

Keith Ellis - Bass
Ollie Halsall - Guitar and Keyboards
Tony Newman - Drums
Mike Patto - Keyboards and Vocals
Chris Stainton - Keyboards

So if you're like me, and you think that there is Blues Rock original music out there that you've never heard that could be pretty rocking, then check out Boxer's first album. You'll be glad you did.
You can go to the wiki link and see the racy UK cover. The cover of my US release albums is as shown in the picture above.

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