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Colosseum II - Electric Savage CD (album) cover


Colosseum II


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.64 | 85 ratings

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4 stars Colosseum II is one of my hidden gem bands, a rock supergroup that had a strong edge yet maintained a highly original style that resonates still today. Firstly, it must be stated that Jon Hiseman is a drumming legend, a technically adventurous stickman, comfortable in a multitude of genres, including the novel concept of hard rock played with utter skill (often not really the case). Irishman Gary Moore is a celebrated fret man, immensely popular in Europe especially in Poland and Hungary, who can blitz with the best anywhere including all the usual suspects. His career with Thin Lizzy, Greg Lake, BBM (with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker) has evolved to a distinguished solo life as well. Keyboardist Don Airey has played with Rainbow, Sabbath, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Jethro Tull and Judas Priest, an ivory man that has a long history and bassist John Mole is the new, unknown guy. Well this recording will not disappoint, from the frivolous rock-funk of "Put It This Way" intro to the celestial "Intergalactic Strut" finale. Rarely has an album title been so accurate, the music is electric and savage. Moore delivers a senseless barrage of glistening solos and Hiseman positively thrives on keeping some impossible beat, England's version of Billy Cobham at playful work. The tracks are relatively short (so is the album) but concise and deadly, even when ponderous and misty, as on the delightful "All Skin and Bone", rifling drums shouldering the blame as Moore wraps some stringent bluesy phrasings over the rhythmic skeleton. Mole keeps things down to earth (with a name like that, you would think!) and Airey decorates nicely. The vocally vivacious "Rivers" has a flowing euphoria that has immense appeal, Moore singing his heart out and taking out the pain on his axe with slippery skill but somewhat out of place with the next tracks. With a title like "The Scorch" what else would you/could you expect, as Don's breezy synthesizers open the floodgates, almost Emersonian in scope until the other 3 players enter the fray with utter conviction, lead guitar and solo synth paralleling some unseen path. Mole rumbles along in complete agreement with Hiseman's rolling toms and splashy cymbal work. Darn good music, this! "Lament" is a traditional piece arranged by the band and it succeeds immensely, tubular bells and all in vehiculating a pure emotion, in all the splendor of modern electronics with a super guitar solo for the ages. Darn good this too !"Desperado" is not the Eagles remake thankfully but actually closer to Brand X or Mahavishnu Orchestra in its insane lightning fast groove, a feat only a drummer like Jon can pull off convincingly. (I distinctively remember a poll back in France (Rock'n Folk magazine) in the 70s and Hiseman was voted numero uno with Magma's Christian Vander as runner-up). This ridiculous ditty is fast, furious and fatal, as Moore continues to sizzle and rage. Darn good three! "Am I" has Airey ruling the keys again, a proggy diversion that has instant respect as Mole's bass scours defiantly, Moore ripping off his finest solo ever, dripping with painful emotion and exasperated despair. The hyper turbo-charged "Intergalactic Strut" is as its name implies a mammoth excursion into the farthest points of the prog spectrum, a heart- stopping pace where harsh rhythms and searing soloing exchange blasphemous backhanded volleys. Moore again really rips into his instrument aggressively with little respect for any collateral damage, furiously adhered to by the other three musicians who all positively sizzle here. Bloody ridiculous, actually! A tremendous accomplishment that I need to revisit more often.

I forgot how good this record was, blinded by their stunning debut "Strange New Flesh" and so , both albums are winners for any prog head who craves the beauty of creative exploration. 4 Belfast blasts

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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