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Colosseum - Daughter of Time CD (album) cover

DAUGHTER OF TIME

Colosseum

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.62 | 98 ratings

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TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review 26, Daughter Of Time, Colosseum, 1970

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An excellent album from this majestic blues/jazz-rock band. There are two real characteristics for the album 1) Sometimes the size of the line-up (a daunting sextet/septet plus the occasional string arrangement) pays off perfectly (see Time Lament for an example), whereas in some tracks it lumbers a little, with Farlowe's very powerful voice or a generically-used sax not merging very well. 2) It's interesting to have a very strong and individual vocalist, and even if Farlowe's additions of 'baby' in some songs seems out of place, and his voice occasionally seems a little too strong, he really does add to the album and pull off some powerful emotional performances. In the end, we come out with some stunning moments, especially the unforgettable 'Time Lament' and 'Downhill and Shadows', even if the predecessor, Valentyne Suite, was a little stronger overall.

Threescore And Ten (Amen). The album kicks off pompously with hymnal vocals standing behind a thick organ and a powerful, prominent rhythm section. We get an interesting combination of Farlowe and a very intricate bass part shadowing him to the smallest note. Jon Hiseman throws out some more unusual percussion into the mix, adding a slightly ferric, spiritual feel to the song. As superb as the instrumental section showcasing the talents of Clem Clempson as a guitarist is, it feels very out of place. The saxophonists (and Greenslade on vibes) contribute a little towards the end of the piece, with its dramatic, cheese-bordering spoken part, though they are mostly backing the strength of Farlowe's vocals. An appropriate introduction, even if the jazz-fueled urge to show off doesn't merge too neatly with the piece's spiritual/vocal base.

Time Lament is the raging high for this album, in my opinion, showcasing some . The song begins with the saxes showing off both more traditional humming and unusual arrangements and an amazing screeching violin (and other strings), backed up by Greenslade's piano. As the verse comes in with its stunning drum patterns, wandering bass and vibes, Chris Farlowe delivers stunning vocals. This leads into a less serious-sounding section, allowing everyone (especially Dick Heckstall Smith on saxophone) to display their ability as soloists. I'd thought of this as a step down for a long time, but have come to appreciate the opportunities it affords the players and the return of the vocals. The strings throughout build a slightly twisted feel into the song. It escalates back into the amazing drums and Chris Farlowe vocals. One of my favourite drum-performances (and songs) ever. Absolutely unforgettable.

Take Me Back To Doomsday begins with an interesting chord-based piano that continues throughout the piece, adding something small in the background behind some stunning guitar from Clem Clempson and excellent vocals (by the same, even if he didn't think of himself as a singer). A great flute-saxophone duet from Heckstall-Smith and Barbara Thompson leads back with some more trademark Hiseman direction-drumming and some small guitar soloing. This flute-saxophone duet remains for the rest of the song.

I like the whimsy of the start of Daughter Of Time, with the juxtaposition of the upbeat, flowing sound (especially the whinnying Clempson guitar and Heckstall-Smith sax) and the massive drum crescendo and pompous Farlowe vocals. Another really strong drum performance, and a the sax duet hums along behind it effortlessly. The blues-style ending, with amazing Clemson guitar, works perfectly.

The cover of Theme For An Imaginary Western is a more cohesive piece than most of the album, with everyone fusing into each other in between their showing off rather than simply continuing each others' lines (as happens in some other places). We get great bass and guitar performances from Mark Clarke and Clempson, and a more prominent Greenslade organ and chorus part. Even though the sax additions feel a little redundant to me, it's a refreshing break from the minor chaos of the album as a whole.

Bring Out Your Dead is a schizophrenic quirky instrumental which contrasts a foot-tapping sax-organ with some tragic vibes, aggressive guitar and rapidly changing drumming. The ending is plainly weird, escalating to an indefinite conclusion, and maybe building a little tension for Downhill And Shadows to launch off from. Some repetition, some superb ideas. An interesting little piece, but I'm never really quite sure what it's trying to do.

Downhill And Shadows is (don't believe the lyrics sheet) a pessimistic, dark, brooding blues-at-its-finest. Everything, from Hiseman's gloomy lyrics to Chris Farlowe's deliberate vocal, to the opening, lamenting saxes to a load of dazzling mini-solos from Clem Clempson is handled well. A very good bass performance and the pygmy brass section exchange and share ideas with Clarke's bass neatly. Definitely Clemson's high point on the album, and some of the best guitar-soloing I've heard.

Time Machine is an extended drum solo, which means that I can't really comment on it. To appreciate a drum solo like this fully, I'd guess you need to understand what the guy's doing, which I don't. It's enjoyable enough for me, and a good listen anyway, but the real highlight of the track is when everything comes together majestically at the end, blaring away to one of the most powerful conclusions I've ever heard.

This album has three really outstanding performers, Hiseman, Clemson and Farlowe, and anyone who either likes one of those or wants to hear some superb drumming, strong vocals or blues guitar should put this album on their wish list. Don't expect to be overwhelmed with awe on the first listen, since it's really a grower, and you need to pay some attention to get the small, but significant background additions of the bass, sax and keys. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys blues, though those not familiar with Colosseum should perhaps try the more consistent and better-arranged Valentyne Suite before moving on to this more difficult album.

Rating: Four Stars,

Favourite Track: Time Lament

TGM: Orb | 4/5 |

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