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Colosseum - Daughter Of Time CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.68 | 169 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars The Blues had a baby and they called it Progressive Jazz Rock

Although I can find no direct references in any of the lyrics I am able to decipher, this album may be based upon the 1951 novel of the same name by Josephine Tey. The plot of this book is concerned with whether Richard III, King of England actually murdered his nephews, the 'Princes in the Tower' The latter's claims to the throne were negated by being deemed illegitimate under a document titled the Titulus Regius published in 1483.

(Yeah so? get on with it you long winded rodent)

'Three Score and Ten Amen' - The incongruous spectre of Ennio Morricone pops his head over the parapet here on the choral intro for this teleologically inclined rumination on our all too brief mortality. Thereafter, Farlowe proves once again that despite his much documented and rather paradoxical obsession with Nazi memorabilia, he was really christened Christopher 'Tyrone' Farlowe. We are in the presence of perhaps the only man without a perennial suntan capable of flicking wet towels at that rather redundant cliche that 'honky' can't sing da blooz. Clemson's playing I don't really much care for as large swathes of the classic double Live album are sullied by his 'Blues Rock for Dummies' soloing. He is somewhat more restrained here however, and apart from the odd wah wah drenched cold shower in places, is mercifully consigned to the 'shallow end of the gene pool' for the most part. The horns have an unmistakable 'Jazz with a British accent' inflection and prevents much of this record from degenerating into a pale take on the similarly minded early 'Chicago' or 'Blood Sweat and Tears' from across the pond. This is a great opening song with a bristling delivery from Farlowe over a delicious chord progression apportioned very imaginatively between Greenslade, Clemson, Heckstall-Smith, Clark and Hiseman. The brief narrative that appears however, unless tackled by someone like Lou Reed, Mark E. Smith or William Burroughs, ends up as rather trite and mawkish and does spoil an otherwise sublime track accordingly. Chris Farlowe's declamatory vocal stylings are often considered OTT but hey, this is 'Prog' baby! and understatement has never really been on the menu at the 'Bombastic Takeaway'. The song ends on a particularly memorable note with stabbing horns on an unresolved dissonant chord. Very unsettling and powerful.

'Time Lament' - Some very neurotic brass and string writing introduces this and takes on the mantle of a rather disquieting chamber music as realized by someone like Zappa. Things settle down quickly with gorgeous shimmering organ chords and tasteful breathy sax injections. The sung section has a very stately and tenuously hymnal style and as you would expect, Farlowe milks this pious atmosphere for all it's worth with another larynx flexing delivery sufficient to snuff out liturgical candles. The pace then quickens with a lovely bubbling organ motif before we embark on a very tightly disciplined stop/start section which also carries a trace of the staccato writing style of Zappa circa Orchestral Favourites Heckstall-Smith lends some signature wailing sax to a quieter section and together with Mel Collins, these two are probably the only credible jazz sax players on a rock record I have heard. The nervy strings and brass get reprised briefly before the band kick into a syncopated riff with shades of America by the Nice. The whole song never sits still for long and this ever changing structure lends it a schizophrenic feel throughout. For the ending we meet some heavy brass chording dragged inexorably downwards by the magnetic pull of the descending harmonic progression. Two belters to start with. Things are looking good*.

'Take Me Back to Doomsday' - (*I knew I would rue those badly chosen words) The witty gallows humour in the title is unfortunately one of the few redeeming factors in this track. Dave Greenslade's rippling piano is very attractive and even the reviled Clemson is tasteful here, but the 60's harmony vocals over a chugging Deep Purple type groove is hopelessly dated and without a memorable tune this really ain't going to win any friends 'round these parts. There is an extended instrumental passage with some nice flute but some rather aimless sax squawking and noodling redolent of the 'OFF your face' while the red bulb is ON which Crimson were guilty of on both Islands and Lizard

'The Daughter of Time' - Comes across fleetingly on the intro as a parody of lounge lizard jazz as explored by Zappa (the irreverent moustachioed one is quite a palpable influence on much of this album) before we transition into more staccato writing featuring a very arresting sax put through a chorus effect a la VDGG. As tantalizing as this may appear, when we do encounter Farlowe again, the melody alas, is a portentous dirge that makes Lamonte Young sound positively capricious by comparison. Very disappointing

'Theme For an Imaginary Western' - the Pete Brown and Jack Bruce penned classic is beautifully read by Farlowe and suits his soulful delivery perfectly. Given the wretchedness of his subsequent group's attempt on Spyglass Guest, Greenslade's organ somewhat ironically sets the mood perfectly for this very powerful song. This track represents Clemson's most successful contribution to the record and I think it significant that he shines when playing simpler chordal arpeggios and phrases that outline the harmony at the 'dusty end' of the fretboard as opposed to his habitual screechy noodling at the other end. Must take this opportunity to underline what a very accomplished and supportive drummer Hiseman has always been and I am surprised his name does not crop up more frequently when the 'great and the good' are debated from the drum stool?.

'Bring Out Your Dead' - This morbid humour is getting beyond the pale fellas. Greenslade's Hammond conjures up a rattlesnake slithering on the desert sands during a very dramatic intro before we gallop off into a brisk instrumental that betrays shades of the Nice in places. The main theme is stated in unison by guitar and organ and eventually joined by sax before we are temporarily unseated by another wah-wah (why why?) drenched solo from Clemson. A feature of Colosseum was the great use that Greenslade made of vibes during the quieter atmospheric sections of their work and there is a beautiful and delicate example of that here which contributes an ethereal texture in contrast to the driving urgency that preceded it. The unrelenting pace is halted during a section where more start/stop rapid unison playing is exploited to telling and percussive effect. This is a very fine composition and represents my favourite side of Colosseum i.e. their forays into predominantly instrumental writing where the band dispense with their habitual blues vocabulary. I feel it is in this territory that they were at their most innovative and far-sighted.

'Downhill and Shadows' - This 'wee wee hours' in a blues club with just a solitary chain smoking waiter for company number features some suitably slurred and wailing solitary sax from Heckstall-Smith in inebriated busker mode. He utilizes that 'two horns at once' trademark here a la Graham Bond and I think quotes or prefaces momentarily from Valentyne Suite? This funereal and brooding blues which both Farlowe and the band could perform in their sleep is a rather unsatisfying conclusion to the album. Given their impressive and glowing resumes garnered from the Illuminati of the UK R'n'B scene this is tantamount to 'Blues on Autopilot.' As much as it healthy to acknowledge your roots and influences there is much evidence here to suggest that Colosseum are not using the blues as a vehicle to expand that particular idiom but merely thumbing down a lift from the next passing car. Dull.

'The Time Machine' - Another best left unreleased 'bonus' track this time a pointless live drum extravaganza by Hiseman. Demographically speaking, drum clinics are attended in the main by drummers and who am I to undermine democracy ? (and don't the word 'clinic' denote something unwholesome here?) There is of course great playing by a consummate technician but this is 8 minutes of your life you wish you had spent backcombing a poodle instead.

BEWARE: at 2min 30secs(ish) we get a truly infectious rolling funk beat which will probably be sampled and looped by one of those 'one word a minute typists with a synthesizer' from the dance fraternity and mutated into a jack hammering global smash.

Don't say you weren't warned progbuddys....

ExittheLemming | 3/5 |


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