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Colosseum II - Strange New Flesh CD (album) cover


Colosseum II


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.64 | 135 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Only recently I re-listened to COLOSSEUM's Those Who Are About To DieSalute You / Valentyne Suite (they didn't much impress me as a young prog newbie some 20 years ago) and enjoyed most of them. Only some songs were too "heavy" or "rough" for my taste. I continued into the later reincarnation of the band, featuring, besides drummer Jon Hiseman, completely another line-up: the uprising guitar hero Gary Moore, keyboardist Don Airey, singer Mike Starrs and bassist Neil Murray. As liner notes tell, especially Moore and Murray were into American Fusion such as John McLaughlin & Mahavishnu Orchestra, and the group wanted to play energetic jazz-rock with virtuosity. They succeeded well in it; the original album consists only of six tracks, most of them longer than average because of brilliant soloing.

I've got the 2-CD Expanded Edition which really offers a lot more good stuff than the original album version. Indeed they could have come up with a solid double album as well. Though the rest are previously unreleased demos (plus three live versions), one really can't see a difference in the quality. The production values are high on everything here. I can't understand why they weren't bigger and why (because of that lack of bigger success, but also in advance) Gerry Bron of Bronze Records was so reluctant about this group - which actually took the Colosseum name after his order; originally they called themselves Ghosts. Yeah, the punk revolution was banging on the door, but hey, this music is very accessible and great! It's not bearing the cliches of Progressive Rock - unless one considers soloing as such - but instead it's suitably ballsy branch of slightly funky jazz-rock with a strong vocalist as well.

A few words on some of the bonuses: 'Castles' is a fine melodic song, served as both 11-minute and 5-minute versions. 'Walking in the Park' is a new version of a song from Colosseum's debut (1969), and a whole lot better one (though that song is among those I didn't much enjoy). 'The Awakening' and 'Siren Song' are long tracks in the style of 'Winds' of the original album, and perhaps even better ones than the mentioned album-closer. These lively tracks really don't feel pretentiously extended,and the same can be said of the 9-minute version of a Joni Mitchell song 'Down To You' included on the original album. 'Rivers' is a nice song of normal length, with Gary Moore on fairly good vocals. After Starrs was foolishly asked to leave by the record company, the group continued as more instrumentally oriented, which naturally pleased the company less and less. Maybe the group was out there at a difficult moment, but the music is still as fresh as 35 years ago.

Matti | 4/5 |


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