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Colosseum - Valentyne Suite CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.22 | 348 ratings

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4 stars This really is a marvellous album and deserves to be ranked among the greatest progressive albums of the 1960s. Even though less than a year had lapsed between the recording of Colosseum's debut album Those Who Are About To Die Salute You and this one, the group seems to have made some immense strides in the interval.

While the first album seemed a hotch-potch of varied songs that didn't always sit well together, Valentyne Suite's strength is that is diverse yet coherent. Here the magical quintet of Litherland, Heckstall-Smith, Hiseman, Reeves and Greenslade blend driving psychedelia (The Kettle), soaring jazz-rock (Elegy), potent blues (Butty's Blues) and a haunting percussive monster laced with liberal doses of flute (The Machine Demands A Sacrifice) seamlessly to create an engaging set of songs that is somehow topped by the mammoth title track.

Clocking in at a mere 16 and 1/2 minutes, the three-part Valentyne Suite is surely one of progressive rock's earliest epics. Divided into three themes (January's Search, February's Valentyne and The Grass Is Always Greener) this piece sees Dave Greenslade make an early (and widely ignored) stab at the prog-rock keyboardist throne. After building things up nicely with some vibraphone work, Greenslade performs some tearaway stunts on organ that still excite to this day. The mood shifts on a number of occassions and at one point, Heckstall-Smith's sax does battle with a choir. While Greenslade's mates all accquit themselves well on this ride, there's little doubt as to whose show the Valentyne Suite track is. And it's a great show!

I don't want to give you the impression that this album is flawless, because it isn't. What I can say with certainty is that at the time of its release that weren't many albums around that could match it's progressive rock credentials. It's a real pity that this excellent line-up dissolved right after this album, but this is a lovely memento that only prog fans with an aversion to the obvious blues/jazz roots of Colosseum will want to skip. ... 86% on the MPV scale.

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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