Timebox

Timebox was an English rock band that released two 1967 singles on Piccadilly. With singer Mike Patto, they released six singles on Deram and scored a soul-pop hit with “Beggin’.” Patto’s songwriting partnership with guitarist–vibraphonist Ollie Halsall produced an unreleased album and the 1969 singles “Baked Jam Roll In Your Eye” and “Yellow Van.”

Musically, Timebox evolved from R&B and soul-jazz to psychedelic pop and hard rock. In 1970, they morphed into Patto.

Members: Ollie Halsall (vibraphone, guitar), “Professor” Chris Holmes (keyboards), Clive Griffiths (bass), Geoff Dean [aka Jeff Dean] (drums, 1966-67), Kevan Fogarty (guitar, vocals, 1966-67), Richard Henry (vocals, 1966-67), Andy Petre [aka Andy Peters] (drums, 1967), Mike Patto (vocals, 1967-70), John Halsey (drums, 1967-70)


Background

Timebox originated as The Take 5, a Southport R&B–beat group formed in 1965 by bassist Clive Griffiths with keyboardist ‘Professor’ Chris Holmes. The name referenced the 1959 Dave Brubeck song “Take Five” and the new band’s quintet formation, which featured drummer Geoff Dean, vibraphonist Ollie Halsall, and guitarist–singer Kevan Fogarty.

Halsall (b. Peter John Halsall; March 14, 1949) launched his career at fifteen as a drummer in a sequence of Southport beat groups (Pete & The Pawnees, The Gunslingers, The Music Students). He learned the vibraphone months before his recruitment by Griffiths and Holmes.

In early 1966, Take 5 went to London and gained a Wednesday night residency at the Whisky a Go Go on Wardour Street.> That autumn, they welcomed US singer Richard Henry and chose a new name, Timebox, an American slang term for prison. They signed with Piccadilly, a sublabel of Pye Records (billed as The Time Box) and linked with Sounds Orchestral producer John Schroeder.


Piccadilly Singles

On February 10, 1967, The Time Box released their debut single: the Spinners cover “I’ll Always Love You” backed with “Save Your Love,” a song co-written by Schroeder and fellow orchestral arranger Alan Tew.

A. “I’ll Always Love You” originated as a June 1965 Motown a-side by The Spinners, co-written by staff writers Ivy Jo Hunter and William Stevenson, the team behind “Dancing In the Street” by Martha & The Vandellas.
B. “Save Your Love” as also used as a 1967 Piccadilly b-side by the Schroeder-produced Barley Bree, an alias for Manchester beatsters The Factotums.

After the first single, Henry returned to the US and an ill-stricken Dean cleared out for drummer Andy Petre.

On April 21, The Time Box released an instrumental single: “Soul Sauce,” a Dizzie Gillespie adaptation backed with “I Wish I Could Jerk Like My Uncle Cyril,” a group original.

A. “Soul Sauce” originated as the Afro-Cuban style instrumental “Guarachi Guaro,” a 1948 RCA Victor b-side by Dizzy Gillespie & His Orchestra. Cal Tjader cut a 1954 version titled “Wachi Ware.” The title “Soul Sauce” first appeared on 1966 versions by Shirley Scott and Xavier Cugat & His Orchestra.>
B. “I Wish I Could Jerk Like My Uncle Cyril” is a clapping mid-tempo instrumental (in G) reminiscent of Stax–Volt R&B (Booker T & The MG’s, The Mar-keys), replete with a vibes solo. The title spoofs “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate,” a Dixieland standard first recorded in 1922 by the Original Memphis Five and recently adopted as a beat rocker by the Remo Four.

Schroeder produced all four sides amid 1967 Pye and Piccadilly singles by The Bystanders, David Garrick, Ferris Wheel, Floribunda Rose, and Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band.


New Lineup

In mid-1967, Petre left Timebox. He later appeared in the pop-psych DJM act Esprit De Corps. Timebox hired two new members: drummer John Halsey and singer Mike Patto.

Halsey (b. February 23, 1945) hailed from Piccadilly label-mates Felder’s Orioles, a London R&B–beat act that cut four 1965–66 singles.

Patto (b. Michael Thomas McCarthy; September 22, 1942) launched his career in The Fretmen, a pop covers band. Amid the outbreak of Merseysound, they became The Breakaways. He then joined The Bluebottles, a Norfolk R&B act that shared stages with the Graham Bond Organization.

In January 1965, Patto acted as a compere on a package tour arranged by Robert Stigwood with a host of client acts: GBO, Long John Baldry, The Moody Blues, The Five Dimensions, and Winston G. Back in Norfolk, Patto joined The Continentals, a red-jacketed R&B band with guitarist Ivan Zagni, a future writing collaborator. They soon changed their name to The News and opened a local show by The Bo Street Runners, a band with a brief yet storied history.

In 1964, the Bo Street Runners won a competition for unsigned acts on the ITV music program Ready Steady Go! The opportunity led to three singles. They featured keyboardist Tim Hinkley and drummer Mick Fleetwood, a former member of The Cheynes with Peter Bardens. Soon after the News–Runners Norfolk bill, Bo Street lost its singer and Fleetwood, who reteamed with Bardens in The Peter B’s (a prelude to Shotgun Express with Rod Stewart).

Patto joined the Bo Street Runners, which lasted for one further single: the April 1966 Columbia release “Drive My Car,” a Beatles cover backed with “She’s So Very Woman.” Mike and Tim then formed Patto’s People with bassist Louis Cennamo and ex-Pretty Things drummer Viv Prince. Under the name Chicago Line, they cut one 1966 single: “Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop” backed with the Rufus Thomas cover “Jump Back.” Hinkley later teamed with Zagni in Jody Grind. Cennamo surfaced in the original Renaissance.

In December 1966, Mike Patto issued the Columbia solo single “Can’t Stop Talkin’ About My Baby” backed with “Love,” both originals co-written with bassist Barry Dean, a future member of Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express.

On August 12, 1967, the Patto-led Timebox played before 40,000 attendees of the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival, a three-day event at the Royal Windsor Racecourse with sets by The Alan Bown Set, Blossom Toes, Chicken Shack, Cream, DonovanEric Burdon & The Animals, Fleetwood Mac (their debut performance, billed as “Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac”), Jeff Beck Group, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Marmalade, The Move, The Pentangle, Small Faces, and Tomorrow. Timebox played Day 2 (Saturday) along with Amen Corner, The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, The Crazy World of Arthur BrownThe Nice, Paul Jones, Ten Years After, and Zoot Money.>


Deram Singles

In late 1967, Timebox signed with Decca’s Deram imprint and linked with in-house soundman Michael Aldred, whose main client, female pop singer Billie Davies, cut the first UK version of “Angel of the Morning,” a ballad by “Wild Thing” songwriter Chip Taylor that became a 1968 hit for PP Arnold, Merrilee Rush, and (in 1981) Juice Newton. On Deram, Timebox released five UK singles and a French-only a-side.

On October 20, 1967, The Timebox released their third single: “Don’t Make Promises,” a Tim Hardin cover backed with “Walking Through the Streets of My Mind,” a song recently introduced by The Beethoven Soul.

A. “Don’t Make Promises” (3:12) is a song by Oregon-born singer–songwriter Tim Hardin, premiered as the opening track on his 1966 Verve Folkways debut Tim Hardin 1.
B. “Walking Through the Streets of My Mind” (2:53) was co-written by songwriters Vic Milrose and singer–actor David Hess; first recorded on the self-titled 1967 album by The Beethoven Soul, a Californian baroque-pop sextet.

Deram issued “Don’t Make Promises” in the UK and Germany. In France, Deram later issued the single with the sides reversed. Aldred produced both sides and the next three Timebox releases.

At the tail end of 1967, Fogarty joined the Dave Davani Four, a root band of jazz-rockers One, which cut a 1969 album on Fontana. Timebox secured its classic five-piece lineup of Mike Patto, John Halsey, Clive Griffiths, Chris Holmes, and Ollie Halsall, who took up guitar.

In March 1968, the French branch of Deram released the intended fourth Timebox single: “Come On Up,” a Rascals cover backed with “A Woman That’s Waiting,” which Patto co-wrote with Continentals colleague Ivan Zagni.

A. “Come On Up” (3:10) originated on the January 1967 Atlantic release Collections, the second album by The Rascals, written by their singer–keyboardist Felix Cavaliere.
B. “A Woman That’s Waiting” (2:58)

“Come On Up” is their final release as ‘The Timebox’; they dropped the definitive article on subsequent singles. The a-side remained unissued in the UK.

Timebox appear in the opening scene of the April 1968 film The Big Switch (aka Strip Poker), a British crime drama by sexploitation director Pete Walker (For Men Only, School for Sex) and starring Sebastian Breaks, Virginia Wetherell, and Ned Kelly actor Jack Allen.

On May 31, 1968, Timebox released “Beggin’,” a Four Seasons cover backed with the recycled French b-side “A Woman That’s Waiting.”

A. “Beggin’” (2:52) originated as a February 1967 Philips a-side by the Four Seasons, co-written by the group’s pianist–arranger Bob Gaudio with lyrics by Angels singer Margaret Santiglia (credited as “Peggy Farina”). Timebox renders “Beggin'” with strings by orchestral arranger (and onetime Manfred Mann guitarist) Mike Vicars.

In July, “Beggin’,” peaked at No. 38 on the UK Singles Chart. Its chart placement prompted Deram to issue the single in five international territories: Australia, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and the Philippines.

This marked the only UK chart entry of Timebox and the much-covered “Beggin’,” a No. 16 Billboard hit for the Four Seasons that also inspired covers in French (“Reste”), Italian (“Prega”), and Spanish (“Ruega”).

“Beggin'” appears on The World of Hits Vol. 3, a 1969 UK Decca compilation with cuts by The Casuals (“Jesamine”), Cat Stevens (“I’m Gonna Get Me a Gun”), The Moody Blues (“Boulevard de la Madelaine”), The Move (“Night of Fear”), Savoy Brown (“Train to Nowhere”), Small Faces (“What’cha Gonna Do About It?”), Twinkle (“Terry”), and Billie’s “Angel of the Morning.”

On November 22, 1968, Timebox released their sixth single: “Girl Don’t Make Me Wait,” a Bunny Sigler cover backed with “Gone Is the Sad Man,” the first-released song of the Patto–Halsall songwriting partnership.

A. “Girl Don’t Make Me Wait” (2:34) originated as a December 1966 Parkway a-side by Philly soul singer Bunny Sigler; written by Leon Huff just before he joined the team of Gamble & Ross (which spawned the PIR partnership Gamble & Huff).
B. “Gone Is the Sad Man” (3:46)

Deram pressed “Girl Don’t Make Me Wait” in the UK and Benelux. This was the last Timebox single with producer Michael Aldred. “Gone Is the Sad Man” fueled rumors of an in-progress Timebox studio album of all original material.

Timebox appeared on the December 7, 1968, broadcast of Colour Me Pop, a music program that ran for 53 episodes (June 1968—August 1969) on BBC 2, which scrubbed most of the show’s segments from the channel archives.

In 1986, “Gone Is the Sad Man” reappeared on Staircase to Nowhere, Volume 12 in the Rubble series from Bam-Caruso Records. The thirteen-track compilation also features cuts by 23rd Turnoff, Bulldog Breed, East of Eden, The Human Instinct, The Outer Limits, Tintern Abbey, Warm Sounds, and World of Oz.

On March 14, 1969, Timebox released “Baked Jam Roll In Your Eye,” a psychedelic pop song backed with “Poor Little Heartbreaker,” both co-written and self-produced by the Patto–Halsall team.

A. “Baked Jam Roll In Your Eye” (3:24)
B. “Poor Little Heartbreaker” (2:47)

Deram issued “Baked Jam Roll In Your Eye” in the UK, Benelux, and Denmark.

“Baked Jam Roll In Your Eye” first reappeared on The British Psychedelic Trip 1966-1969, a 1986 compilation on See For Miles Records with pop-psych rubbles by The Accent (“Red Sky at Night”), The Attack (“Created By Clive”), The End (“Shades of Orange”), Fire (“Father’s Name Is Dad”), Ice (“Ice Man”), The Poets (“In Your Tower”), Toby Twirl (“Romeo and Juliet”), Turquoise (“Tales of Flossie Fillett”), and the Virgin Sleep (“Love”).

On October 3, 1969, Timebox released their eighth and final single: “Yellow Van” backed with “You’ve Got the Chance,” both Patto–Halsall originals produced by incoming Deram soundman Wayne Bickerton.

A. “Yellow Van” (2:52)
B. “You’ve Got the Chance” (3:53)

Deram issued “Yellow Van” in the UK and the Netherlands. Bickerton’s credits from 1968 (his first year as soundman) also include singles by Dana Gillespie, The Flirtations, Focal Point, Granny’s Intentions, Toby Twirl, and the singular Deram album by Giles Giles & Fripp, the forerunner to King Crimson.

Timebox recorded further material with Bickerton for a proposed studio album, tentatively titled Moose On the Loose, but the contents wound up vaulted for three decades. In September 1969, they previewed one song from the sessions (“Stay There”) during a BBC sessions.


Patto

By late autumn, Chris Holmes left Timebox. He later resurfaced in Babe Ruth.

The four remaining members — Mike Patto, Ollie Halsall, John Halsey, and Clive Griffiths — continued as Timebox and developed a new repertoire far removed from the soul-pop of their singles. They considered multiple new names (Tarzan, Nazrat) before March 1970, when they renamed their act Patto. However, they retained their Timebox identity for select gigs and BBC sessions until November 1970, when Vertigo issued the first of three Patto albums.


Compilations

The 1967–69 Timebox singles account for roughly half the band’s recorded work. After they retired the name, Timebox’s pre-existing output slipped into rarity until the 1976 release of The Original Moose On the Loose, a ten track compilation on Peters International that gathers their Deram sides (minus “Come On Up”). Despite its title, the compilation includes nothing from the vaulted 1969 album.

After their appearance on Staircase to Nowhere and The British Psychedelic Trip, Timebox became a staple of sixties multi-artist comps.

In 1998, Deram issued The Deram Anthology, a 24-track CD that gathers the eleven Patto-era singles sides with thirteen unreleased tracks, including the Patto–Halsall original “Leave Me to Cry” and the Hoagy Carmichael adaptation “Misty,” a mellow vibe-laden instrumental in the vein of the Modern Jazz Quartet.

4. “Leave Me to Cry” (3:19)
24. “Misty” (4:40)

In 2008, RPM Records issued Beggin’, a 27-track CD (78:08) that gathers all fifteen singles sides (including the pre-Patto Piccadilly material) and the unearthed material from the Deram Anthology (minus “Leave Me to Cry” and “Misty”). Beggin’ divides its single-disc contents into “Side One” (1967–68) and “Side Two” (1969). The twelve unearthed songs are all Patto–Halsall originals apart from the Ollie lone-write “Country Dan and City Lil” and the Stax cover “Your Real Good Thing’s About to Come to an End.”

4. “Waiting For the End” (2:24)
6. “Your Real Good Thing’s About to Come to an End” (3:12) is a blues ballad first released as a May 1966 Stax a-side by Mable John; co-written by label staff writers David Porter and Isaac Hayes. Timebox recorded their version ahead of covers by Lou Rawls (1969) and Cold Blood (1970). (The Deram Anthology lists the title as “Real Good Thing” and erroneously credits the song to Nina Simone).
14. “Gone Is the Sad Man” (3:46)
15. “Eddie McHenry” (2:46)
16. “Barnabus Swain” (2:49)
19. “Stay There” (2:50)
20. “Country Dan and City Lil” (2:17)
21. “Love the Girl” (2:22)
22. “Tree House” (2:56)
24. “Black Dog” (3:01)
26. “Promises” (2:06)
27. “Timebox” (3:13)


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