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Colosseum - Valentyne Suite CD (album) cover

VALENTYNE SUITE

Colosseum

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.20 | 251 ratings

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Kiwi1
4 stars I suppose any listener to an album that fuses different musical styles will eventually ponder if one is particularly dominant. Is a folk-rock album, for example, more 'folk' than 'rock' or vise versa? Colosseum's Valentyne Suite ostensibally offers a jazz-rock fusion yet it is impossible to decide which of these these two styles is primary. Not because the music at any one point offers an equal balance between these styles but because individual tracks and even the band's players provide considerable variations that are not always compatible with each other. The opening track, 'Kettle' delivers a powerful piece of heavy psych comparable with the best of Cream, Hendrix and other pioneers of the sub-genre. James Litherland's guitar licks economically punctuate a solid rhythmic backing in which Hiseman's virtuoso drumming is especially outstanding. Yet, the second track, 'Elegy' is of a wholly different character offering a mellow jazzy vibe in which Heckstall-Smith's lyrical sax playing is at the fore. 'Butty's Blues' brings a more blues-jazz variation and 'The Machine Demands a Sacrifice' returns to a more psychedelic mode before the progressive rock masterpiece that is the 'Valentyne Suite' begins this time melding rock, blues and jazz with a series of baroque harmonies primarily on the Hammond Organ. Each track and all musicians are individually brilliant yet the combination of styles does not, ultimately, add up to a cohesive whole. The album can sound like a compilation of tracks from different bands whose only connection is a liking for jazz and willingness to experiment with various rock, classical and psychedelic themes. This is, however, only a minor flaw: the constant inventiveness, subtlety , technical accomplishment and occasional beauty of the music rewards repeated listening. That the album was the first release on the Vertigo Swirl label is appropriate as it contains just about all the styles that will feature on later additions with the exception of folk-rock. Not quite a perfect masterpiece, Valentyne Suite comes fairly close and fully deserves our esteem.
Kiwi1 | 4/5 |

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