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Colosseum II - Strange New Flesh CD (album) cover

STRANGE NEW FLESH

Colosseum II

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.66 | 122 ratings

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ProgressiveAttic
4 stars One of the greatest super-groups in prog!

During the classic era of progressive rock, many of the most acclaimed artists of the genre left their original bands and started teaming to produce such impressive results as: ELP and UK. Closseum II is a product of this tendency. Jon Hiseman , drummer of the legendary original Colosseum, started to recruit some of the best musicians around to resume the fusion project that he left when Colosseum disbanded in 1971 in favor of the heavy Tempest (another super-group, which kept some jazzy tendencies). In this lineup where included such legends as Don Airey (not so legendary at the time but famous because of his work with Cozy Powell and Babe Ruth. He will later become one of the most renown session keyboardists in rock, having played with such artists as: Gary Moore, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Whitesnake, Rainbow and Deep Purple) and Gary Moore (the legendary blues guitar player, member of such acts as Thin Lizzy). With the addition of such remarkable musicians as Neil Murray (former member of Gilgamesh and Cozy Powell's Hammer) on bass and Mike Starrs (who apparently collaborated with Rick Wakeman) on lead vocals.

Such a lineup rises the expectations really high, and let me tell you that you are not going to be disappointed. With the great moog lines provided by Don Airey, Moore's legendary guitar and Hiseman's percussions you are in for an incredible, sometimes explosive and sometimes soft, musical journey.

Dark Side of the Moog starts the album masterfully with an incredible keyboard explosion reminiscent of Moraz-era Yes, which is later joined very dynamically by the rhythm section and some amazing guitar interplay. This track develops throughout its 6+ minutes with lots of tempo and mood changes, always very dynamic and dominated by the keyboards (with specially amusing moog lines) with a strong guitar participation. One of the best tracks ever recorded by any member of this band. 5

Down To You is the first track to feature Starrs' vocals, and I have to say that I was really impressed by his emotional performance (he was unknown to me before listening to this album) in this Joni Mitchel cover (more than a cover, a rework). This mainly acoustic folky track was impressively turned into a highly emotional prog fusion epic in which electric and acoustic sections intertwine. Here we can witness the power of the band and a beautiful acoustic section featuring Airey and Moore in a somewhat different environment than the one they are famous for. 4.25

Gemini and Leo ventures in a more aggressive fusion style, with an atmosphere reminiscent to Mahavishnu Orchestra's, this time with an outstanding vocal work. The funky rhythm section is mind blowing (amazing bass lines!!!) and Moore's bluesy solos are absolutely majestic. 4.5

Secret Place features Starrs at his best, backed amazingly by the rhythm section and Airey's keys. Moore's participation is most impressive at his solo section. 4

On Second Thoughts continues in the same mood of the previous track, featuring more strong vocal work and a great interplay between the musicians. This piece features a very laid back atmosphere with a very tasteful melody fronted by Moore's soaring guitar work. 4

Second Thoughts ends with a short drum solo which is resumed at the beginning of Winds, which is a great demonstration of Hiseman's capabilities. Hiseman is then joined by the guitar and, later, by the rest of the band. The piece features amazing instrumental interplay, the always strong vocal work and mind boggling complexity. This is a great demonstration of what progressive jazz-rock means, the piece progresses with lots of rhythmic changes, but still fluid and constant virtuous demonstrations, in a jazz environment with a rock aesthetic approach and a hard edge. In other words, it summarizes the entire album. 5

The highlights of the album? I can't pick one! Moore's breath-taking guitar work, Airey's amazing keyboard work that makes him one of the greatest (together with Emerson, Wakeman, Moraz, Banks, Corea, etc....highly underrated!), Starrs' beautiful and emotional vocals, Nurray's amusing bass lines and Hiseman's flawless percussions.

Total: 4.46

4 really strong stars for one of the finest samples of fusion around and a highly emotional album.

ProgressiveAttic | 4/5 |

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