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Colosseum - Valentyne Suite CD (album) cover

VALENTYNE SUITE

Colosseum

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
5 stars Second album from this groundbreaking quintet that had offered us much of a thrill with their debut. Again here, if you are looking for the vinyl, please be aware that this album came out with a very close-looking version in America, but a completely different track list and is titled, The Grass Is Greener 5BTW, I distinctly remember a first version of Lost Angeles on this version of the album). Again here I will review the Cd version as to not complicate things uselessly. What one must realize is that this album was the first released by progressive label Vertigo and the first vinyl to have that superb spiral spinning around the vortex of the record. A real delight to watch it spinning especially while listening to the second side of the vinyl. As if that label and that track were made for each other.

Starting in the same fashion as their debut on an incredibly positive, joyously-communicative (bordering on the epidemic contagion ;-), with Litherland stealing the show both with his superb voice and his wild guitar wailings, James "Butty" is reaching his moment of glory in this RnB-infested rock track. A real gas even if you are not that much in RnB music. Elegy has absolutely nothing to envy its predecessor both in happiness but here DH-S's sax takes the centre-stage and the group is accompanied by a superb string section, which at times draws chills in your back. As you might have guessed, the next track is a rather slow blues with an infectious organ groove and heavy brass section, and Butty Litherland unleashing his heart onto an unsuspecting microphone and your disbelieving here. Orgasmic. Closing of the A-side is a much-more Sacrifice-Demanding Machine, which confirms the progressive qualities detected in the debut album, even if the tracks is also starting as a blues, but this time much more oppressive than previous tracks and it has mid-track fade out (well this is not yet the 70's, so one can forgive the less successful experimentations such as this one. The track ends in a total chaos, which still shows that ideas were there, but not always perfectly laid out on wax.

But all you progheads are giving a hoot about is my coming down to describing the chef d'oeuvre that is coming out and filling (and fulfilling you) the B-side. Starting out a bit like Brubeck's Blue Rondo a La Turc (or more like The Nice's version of it), the track soon diverges from it as Greeenslade's delicious vibraphone descending lines reach directly into your heart, blocks the main vein and all you have to do is wait for the vibes to return before the strokes gets to you. But Dave is a gentleman and happily obliges some more life-saving orgasmic vibes lines. Clearly, this track is Greenslade's "Heure De Gloire", the track he will forever remembered for and as the first movement ends with him having switched to piano (McCoy Tyner-influenced) with DH-S approaching the feel of this writer's ultimate musician, John Coltrane during A Love Supreme!!!!!! Needless to say that Hiseman was playing along as if he was Elvin Jones. 30 years down the road this passage still nails me to the floor with tears of joy flowing out uncontrollably. The main Berstein-inspired theme then takes over again with Greenslade now taking more liberties with the harmonies, while the track is only made possible by Hiseman's wild drumming. As the track is again calming down, Butty Litherland comes in along with the others for some superb angelic vocalizing superbly underlined by D H-S's sax lines. To say that much of this track was written on the day that mankind walked on the moon (although only 6 at the time, I remember that day vividly) is simply so telling, July 21, 69!!! The third part is letting more part to the guitar, but Greenslade is dominating the debate again, and there are some incredibly delightful exchanges between the two but DHS is never far away either. Clearly, TVS is taking off where The Ides Of March had left it on the debut album. But as orgasmic this track is, there is also a feel that the many influences it draws from, even if well-digested are a bit too obvious and this might just be the ultimate reason why Colosseum will never break the big leagues like Yes or Crimson.

Unfortunately for him Litherland was to be sacked because he was mostly a blues player, and Hiseman being the boss he was (the group's official name is John Hiseman's Closseum), and having the opportunity to snatch Clempson from Bakerloo. Tony Reeves left also on musical grounds but of his own. So Clempson will bring in Mark Clarke into the band also. This second album while still not completely progressive, is certainly as historically important as The Nice's debut or Crimson's ITCOTCK and just for that merits the fifth star. Awesome!!!

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#26283)
Posted Monday, February 02, 2004 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is one of the best "Proto-progressive blues albums" in the late seventies, the turning point of their career, by which you start getting an inkling of the difference between the song-structured mini-suites, regarding suck experimental rock blues or other usual rock and roll songs in the vein of "The WHO" in the sixties, and the first attempt to explore some other "music territories", within the hard blues scheme. Recommended, along with the album "In the Court of the Crimson King" by KING CRIMSON, as the first great generational "split" from the sixties!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#26285)
Posted Thursday, April 01, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is completely a killer....It has some blues, but some good progressive moments, The Valentine Suite is the best track, sadly I have not heard more of this band, Dick Heckstall-Smith's sax is really fantastic,another thing that really like on this is the attitude of the band...Is an album that you MUST hear if you got the chance and recently I heard a compliaton (that is not presented here), and believe me, they are fantastic, is incredible that such a gem still remains undiscovered by these lands...Have a joyful time!!!

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Send comments to Carlos (BETA) | Report this review (#26286)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Superb jazz-rock album with some fine blues moments. Five brilliant musicians at the peak of their composing and virtuoso playing abilities. Personal favourites : Elegy, Butty's blues, Valentyne suite. Masterpiece.

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Send comments to bsurmano (BETA) | Report this review (#26287)
Posted Wednesday, September 01, 2004 | Review Permalink
david.murray2
5 stars Remember this album came out in 1969. It was produced by one of the few bands you can actually classify as a supergroup. Personally as a fan I feel deprived of years of music of this exceptional quality produced by a band that unfortunately disbanded in 1971 years after only 3 years. The band certainly had not peaked - their music was not repetitive, every track they produced was different, the musicianship was of the highest quality. Hiseman, Clemson (although not on the Valentyne Suite), Heckstall-Smith and Greenslade were probably the best musicians around in their particular field. If you have never heard the title track 'The Valentyne Suite' you have missed out on one of the best pieces of conceptual instrumental works of the contemporary music scene. It rates better than the Mike Oldfield's original Tubular Bells and Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis. The introductory keyboards played by David Greenslade in his own unique style and sound is joined by Dick Heckstall-Smith on saxaphone with the two supported by Jon Hiseman. They are constantly changing the moods and texture of the piece before building up to their musical conclusion permitting an incredible guitar solo to take over and more or less finish the masterpiece in a tone and mood differing from what went before.The flip side (for those of you who remember vinyl) contains two 'ordinary' tracks which you can either take or leave, but tracks 2 & 3, The Elegy and Butty's Blues certainly add value to the Valentyne Suite - both tracks are a great combination of jazz, blues and rock. The only problem with the album Valentyne Suite is Chris Farlowe was not on vocals. You really need to listen to Colosseum Live to appreciate what Chris contributes to the band. They've reformed, their 1994 Cologne concert captured on DVD is excellent; the best part of 25 years later their music has not aged.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#26288)
Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
Proghead
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I was completely blown away by this album. Especially since I never warmed-up to their following effort, "Daughter of Time". "Valentyne Suite" was their second and final album with the original lineup of keyboardist Dave Greenslade, bassist Tony Reeves, guitarist/vocalist James Litherland, drummer Jon Hiseman, and saxist Dick Heckstall-Smith. Reeves and Litherland would be the ones to defect from the band after this album.

"Valentyne Suite" was the very first album ever released on the "swirl" Vertigo label (if you own the version on Bronze Records, you have the reissue, which was issued after the band made the move to that label in '71). Without a doubt, this is by far the most interesting John Mayall-related album I have ever heard (Heckstall-Smith and Reeves had played in Mayall's Bluesbreakers). "The Kettle" is a rather rocking number, dominated by heavy use of guitar. "Elegy" is a rather jazzy piece complete with strings. Great piece. "Butty's Blues" is, as you expect, a bluesy-piece, but you get lots of CHICAGO or BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS-like horns. "The Machine Demands a Sacrifice" is more hard rocking, blues-influenced number then unexpectedly (at the end) finds the band doing a bizarre experiment that reminds one of Krautrock bands that would appear in the next couple of years. The album closes with the totally amazing title track, divided in to three movements. This is basically Dave Greenslade's time to shine. The music is just unbelievably intense, and you should check out Jon Hiseman's drumming! I can hardly believe it!

Amazing album, and for those who don't mind jazz and blues in their prog rock, you should get this album.

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Send comments to Proghead (BETA) | Report this review (#26289)
Posted Friday, October 01, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Valentyne Suite" is Colosseum's second album, which in some ways shows an improvement on their impressive debut. Basically, Colosseum remains as what it is, a blues-rock band with a notable penchant for jazz oriented jamming and an occasional taste for proto-prog twists: the band's most sophisticated facet is brilliantly developed in the namesake tour-de-force, a three part namesake suite that occupied the whole B- side of the vinyl edition. 'Valentyne Suite' is a real magical mystery tour on a blues/jazz bus through psychedelic fields and early progressive valleys, full of top notch musicianship, electrifying energy, varied musical motifs, red hot jamming. never chaotic, since all five musicians manage to create solid interplays all along the way. The artistic relevance of this piece for the germination of prog rock can easily be accurately regarded as equal to that of the Nice's 'Ars Longa, Vita Brevis', Pink Floyd's 'Interstellar Overdrive', and King Crimson's '21st Century Schizoid Man'. However, as much as the suite is the absolute highlight to this album, we must not overlook the remaining repertoire. Since Colosseum is mostly and mainly a blues-rock act, it is no wonder that the first three tracks are well rooted in this musical soil: the jazz stuff is most of the time provided by Hiseman's intensive drumming and Heckstall-Smith's explosive soloing, but it's fair to say that the quintet works properly as an ensemble. Track 4 pretty much anticipates the genius soon to be expanded in the aforementioned suite: 'The Machine Demands Another Sacrifice' kicks off as an energetic R'n'B-based piece before the coda shifts into a 7/8 tempo, built upon wild overdubbed percussions and stormy Hammond layers. The abrupt ending is quite effective, but I wish the closing jam had been a bit longer. Overall conclusion: an excellent opus that deserves a place in any good prog rock collection, and any good rock collection in general.

(I respectfully dedicate this review to the memory of Dick Heckstall-Smith)

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#26291)
Posted Wednesday, February 09, 2005 | Review Permalink
Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
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.

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#26292)
Posted Friday, February 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars How can someone who loved seventies prog or classic rock overlooked this album? Yes, it happened to me. Pity me. I have heard a lot about this album from many prog mates down here but I did not even buy the album. I knew a lot about Colosseum II but not this one. The CD price was not favorable for me so when I attended Prog Nite end of last month I saw the used CD with "peaceful" price so I bought it. Oh man . it blew me away at first spin. It's not just the musicianship whom all the band members were the virtuoso of their instruments but most interestingly is the intense classic rock nuance produced from this record. WOW! The powerful vocal of Chris Farlowe, Dave Greenslade, James Litherland, Mark Clarke are all excellent. And I also love the double guitar solo performed by James Litherland and Dave Clempson. Especially when I observed them playing on my left and right speaker set separately. Also, the brass section reminds me to powerful brass rock band whom the band members died in the same plane crash on their tour CHASE. It's a great band of my favorite. All songs featured here in this Valentyne Suite are truly excellent ones. One think that makes this album memorable is the sound quality that represents the seventies. (please don't compare it with recent technology recording set!)

Similarity with other bands: Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chicago Transit Authority, Chase. It's an excellent addition to any prog collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours, GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#39101)
Posted Sunday, July 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
belz
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars (4.5/5.0)

Wow this is great! At some point it reminds me of that greek group names Akpitae (or Akritas) or even Osanna's Palepoli. Other songs, like Butty's Blues, are more jazzy, and really those guys who how to do their stuff! "The Valentyne Suite" is the main piece on this album, and really it is huge! It can't be shy of any Genesis or any other "mainstream" prog group... It's really powerful, imaginative; always with that jazzy touch, or should I say MAGIC TOUCH? I just can't believe this song simply exist. It's just too good! Just imagine the best jazz group you can find and put make them play with ELP and you get the idea. Valentyne Suite is huge!

This is an essential addition for any real prog fan!

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Send comments to belz (BETA) | Report this review (#48996)
Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
Raff
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars People who are prejudiced against music with jazz and blues influences will miss out on this album at their own risk. "Valentyne Suite" is simply a masterpiece, one of the first examples of jazz-rock and as such an indisputed milestone in the history of rock. I was so lucky as to find it in double CD version, featuring the American edition of the album. The latter contains some tracks which do not appear on the European release (notably, "Rope Ladder to the Moon", "Jumping Off the Sun" and a jam-session-style take on Ravel's "Bolero"). The European edition also contains two extra tracks, the instrumental "Arthur's Moustache" and the passionate "Lost Angeles".

The musicianship on this record is quite extraordinary. Dave Greenslade is one of the unsung keyboard heroes of the '70s: indeed, the album's title track is build around his magnificent Hammond performance. Dick Heckstall-Smith plays great sax throughout, while Jon Hiseman is without any doubt one of the greatest drummers in rock. Then there's the very talented James Litherland on guitar and vocals. It's a real pity his career was short- lived (after leaving Colosseum he formed Mogul Thrash, with John Wetton on bass), as his voice is powerful and emotional, well-suited to the mood of the album.

As I said at the beginning, the album has a strong blues vein, which could be somewhat offputting for true-blue proggers. However, being 'progressive' also means being open to all kinds of diverse influences and not overlooking such influential albums as this one because it doesn't sound like Genesis or Yes. "Valentyne Suite" is a must for all lovers of great rock music - period.

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Send comments to Raff (BETA) | Report this review (#54672)
Posted Friday, November 04, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The second work of COLOSSEUM released in 1969 "Valentyne suite". It is an indeed delightful content. It is a rare masterpiece that enhances all of the blues, rock, jazz, and classics. It is one of the most important works of so-called British jazz-rock. "The Valentyne Suite" is a masterpiece that pushes and expands the possibility of rock.

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Send comments to braindamage (BETA) | Report this review (#55455)
Posted Wednesday, November 09, 2005 | Review Permalink
Ricochet
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Personally, I don't regard Colloseum as grand. They proved to be different from what I listen (or compared with my orientation in prog music) as style and message. More than that, the short journey through Colloseum reached several low points. Either because I don't fully appreciate it or because I don't fully understand their music (I can admit, perhaps, the second one), Colloseum don't outline as my favourites. Still, this is only a general view. The quality power of "Valentyne Suite" is too high to be denigrated. Even I, the unexpert (in this case) ear, love it and regard it as marvellous and extremely valuable. Think of what true fans consider it! Colloseum's greatest album and a very rafined expression of music. Among the highlights of the year 1969, or even of the period of late '60s-early '70s.

Now from my point of view, 70s Colloseum means fusion mastering with hints of jazz and blues. Previously loose on "Those About To Die Salute You", abundent on this album, less in "Daughter Of Time".Abundent and of top notch. The effort put on this, from all the perspective, is more than reasonable, it's surreal. Enlightening and lifting. Pulsating and exhilarating. In here the musicians developed an expression of resonance and prestige, making music important, vibrant and glamorous. Once more I say, although am not at all on "fusion visions", "Valentyne Suite" is definitory for the genre adopted and the brand reflected. It's a maximum.

From start, Colloseum decide on what they're gonna represent (and what's goona represent them), make a demonstration of force not so common, gather and garnish a recital of pico bello music moments, and enter with a bang. Sheer quality reflects sheer masterminds and delight passion.I see "Valentyne Suite" as something done for music, for the fans, who love deeply such thing(s), for the elevated and charismatic lover and for the good things that cout. It's something!

Dynamic, robust, open and thrilling. "Valentyne Suite" helds pretty much everything you need. Yes, albums that satisfy you from all the aspects do exist and "Valentyne Suite" can be one of these kind of albums. Boemic, still vigurous. Realist, plus dreamy. Mindscaping, but also soulmoving. It's a perfection(ed) language; of an unnatural movement. Very relaxing and very meditative. Although of rapid construction, it can be suitable for a moment of inner thinking, of mind-driving-away, of pause and reflection. This counts for me also as a plus. Fusion manifest (and especially "Valentyne Suite") is a most concludent alternative to complex-heavy psychedelism, to prog generic movements or to crimsonian sound experiments (et caetera). Have that in mind when you think of what exactly you desire to listen. It forms a message and grants a shine.

Two major parts delimited in "Valentyne Suite". I've symbolicly named them "Introduction (to the Valentyne Suite" and "The Valentyne Suite (itself)". Focus should be on the "Valentyne Suite" as it is a master-suite within the master-album. In it lies la crčme de la crčme of Colloseum, being the most extraordinary piece of their entire discographic repertoire, without a doubt. Here, the climax of all reaches "beyond" valences and the music eliminates all shadow of unmastered elements. It is the sum of all the ingredients of succes (an artistic succes, first of all). Delighted you'll be by this manifest. The "Introduction" helds the tone perfectly, illustrating the factor and style. Good moments in here as well, especially on "Kettle" or "The Machine Demands A Sacrifice".

Short and simple: a masterpiece and an album I applaud. Concerning my relation with the rest of Colloseum, "Valentyne Suite" is not an exception, but a mega-succesful acomplishment. Highly recommended, truly worthy. An album for all, for ever.

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Send comments to Ricochet (BETA) | Report this review (#81131)
Posted Wednesday, June 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I heard title track, I was blown away by the strenght of horns, and beautyness of organs. This is great epic and one of best instrumentals in history of rock. Pay attention on "Butty's Blues", especially on vocals. Other songs are also pretty fine. Five stars!

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Send comments to coa190 (BETA) | Report this review (#86035)
Posted Monday, August 07, 2006 | Review Permalink
clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A very nice album, but I wouldn't dare to call it masterpiece. Despite the fact that the album contains side-long suite, I won't consider it more progressive than, let's say, TULL's "This was".

This is very good blues album with some hard-prog tendencies. Let' see: "The Kettle" is a simple hard rock tune with catchy riff (I heard the very same riff few days ago sampled and used in some hip hop crap or something...ah, whatever). Nice harsh vocal and flashy wah-wah guitar. "Elegy" is beautiful downtempo jazz-blues in old school fashion. The same goes for "Butty's Blues". "The Machine Demands A Sacrifice" is another hard-rocker with psychedelic touch and nice ending. I'm wondering if the word "computer" is used in lyrics here for the first time in the history of music. Anyone?

And now, COLOSSEUM's epic, the mighty "Valentyne Suite"...well, I don't know. It's 16 and a half minutes long, undoubtedly progressive, with beautiful long opening Hammond solo (with fragments of melodies borrowed from Bach) and unforgettable solo on vibes. Brass section works really well, and after the end of the first theme, the whole suite calms down...and goes not so inspiring. I won't say dull, because there are few nice moments and chord progressions, but the second and the third theme are just not on the same level with the first one.

Don't get me wrong. All the tracks are gorgeous, band members are outstanding technicians, (Greenslade himself is a genius), and I can go that far and say that if we remove all the technical facts, we still have one soulful album full of spirit and passion.

This is a good record. The problem is, after years of listening it doesn't grow on me any more (unlike some other real prog masterpieces), it sounds dated and average. I would rather prefer to have an album full of good blues tracks (as on side A) or fully developed suite with more than three themes spread over two sides of LP. This is one of the first side long tracks in prog history, and I do respect that effort. Beside that, this is just very good blues rock album. A little bit more than three stars, really.

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Send comments to clarke2001 (BETA) | Report this review (#96498)
Posted Wednesday, November 01, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars One small step for a man.

"Valentyne's suite" was originally released on Vertigo records famous "swirl" label, being that label's first album. Interestingly, when the band later moved to Island records subsidiary Bronze, "Valentyne's suite" was selected for re-release on their budget "HELP" label, selling for substantially less than the full price of an LP. Other such releases included Emerson Lake and Palmer's "Pictures at an exhibition" (Catalogue number HELP1), and King Crimson's "Earthbound" (HELP6). Valentine's suite was HELP4. Unlike most of that series though, this is a studio recording.

If Colosseum's first album "Those who are about to die salute you" found the band members still rooted in their jazz origins, "Valentyne's suite" sees them moving quickly into the rock arena. The jazz and blues influences are still very much in evidence, but the freeform sections are briefer and less indulgent, the album having a generally more accessible feel.

The opening "The Kettle" with its light multi-tracked pop vocals and nonsense lyrics is among the band's most commercial works, but still manages to feature some fine guitar work by James Litherland. The commercial, more rock orientated feel is maintained with the vocals dominated "Elegy", while "Butty's blues" is a more traditional blues/jazz number. "The machine demands a sacrifice" is a wandering piece with an avante garde ending.

The focus of the album though is of course the title suite in 3 sections. While credited as a band composition, parts 1 and 2 are primarily the work of Dave Greenslade, while the final part was written by Jon Hiseman and Dick Heckstall-Smith. Greenslade's organ playing therefore features strongly in the piece, as he engages in instrumental "conversations" with the other band members. If only he had been as forthright and dynamic with his eponymous band, and had perhaps not bothered with the mellotron purchase (sacrilege I know, but some expoit it better than others!), Greenslade could have been a much bigger player in the developing prog of the early 70's.

The suite is by far Colosseum's finest recording. It balances their blues and jazz influences with genuinely progressive moments. The rock themes on which the track is based seldom permit the music to stray too far into improvisation, the jazz rock sound being much closer to early Chicago and Blood Sweat and Tears.

Bearing in mind that the piece was recorded in 1969 (the sleeve notes affirm that they were written as the first man was stepping on the moon), "The Valentyne suite" pre- dates many of the prog epics which followed in the early 1970's. How influential it was on those epics is open to debate, but there is no doubt that Colosseum were pioneers in the field. That in itself does not make the album essential listening, and for me the four tracks which occupy side one are pleasant but dispensable diversions. The title suite however is worthy of any respectable prog collection.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#105637)
Posted Friday, January 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Just had a few disappointing experiences with recent Prog releases (PoS, Therion, Nemo) - honestly what a bad start for 2007, but the year's still young and there's still hope - anyway sorry for starting my review this way. But those ones triggered me to do a huge leap back to the times when everything began in progressive rock. We're 38 years in the past, in the year of 1969 when four of the seminal Prog bands - Genesis, Yes, VDGG and Crimson - had their debuts of which actually only the latter one set a milestone. Else Canterbury style had been on its heyday, German Krautrock bands like AD or Can started to do some weird innovative stuff, in the US there was of course Frank Zappa already quite creative and psychedelic bands like Pink Floyd as well as some Proto-Prog ones like The Nice, Procol or Traffic had been releasing already a few remarkable albums since one or two years. And there was a band called after the famous ancient amphitheater in Rome releasing their second and stunningly excellent album which presented a quite innovative blend of jazz, blues and rock. Listening to this record nowadays some people might argue that it's not really anything special but I think considering the time of its release this had been some absolutely exciting (and enjoyable at the same time) music. Especially the title suite which occupies the whole second side of the original vinyl is a masterpiece on its own and this record is still a big fun to listen to even after almost 40 years. An excellent work by brilliant musicians and a must-have for anyone interested in the history of Prog, especially if purchased as its limited edition double CD set containing as well the 70's album 'The Grass Is Greener'! 5 fully deserved stars!!

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#109767)
Posted Tuesday, January 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Colosseum at their best: when a jazz band tries the rock way, you get this marvellous kind of album! Incredibly, this fantastic stuff was written in 1969, the same year of the King Crimson masterpiece In The Court Of The Crimson King, Frank Zappa's Hot Rats and Jethro tull's Stand Up. All geniality seemed to be beginning that year...

The Kettle is a brilliant opening, featuring a heavy-bluesy riff, strong wha-wha guitars and the powerfull vocals of Mr. Litherland. Butty's blues is a classic blues piece, while interesting is the use of the flute both in Elegy and The Machine Demands Another Sacrifice. The title-track made this album a masterpiece of progressive rock music: breathtaking drums played by the leader Jon Hiseman, incredible keyboards by Dave Greenslade, which dominates the first part of the suite. The second part includes more guitar and is awesome music. Colosseum shall never write such a milestone during their whole carreer. 5 stars don't seem to be enough...!!!

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Send comments to firth of fifth (BETA) | Report this review (#122856)
Posted Sunday, May 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars A most essential album to define the genre. the suite itself is considered masterpiece not just for its importance as contribution to raise prog music but for being a superb piece of music itself. The other numbers surely top the quality created by valentyne suite. greenslade play the keyboards with such energy...as well for the brass sections - very well perfomed. good combination of genres (blues, jazz-rock) made by the explosive members. several will quit disbanding the group, probably for an eager to hit the states? possibly maybe if they didnt separate lifes we could be talking about more excellent albums from colosseum. anyway a must for music lovers and progs ears.

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Send comments to luisman (BETA) | Report this review (#127269)
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars There are many times when I'm in the mood for some up-tempo jazzy rock, and this one usually does the trick. The highlight, of course, is the three-part Valentyne Suite, though the entire album is solid. Yet another quality addition to my collection that I owe entirely to ProgArchives!

The first side samples from many musical styles, though none of them work entirely. The Kettle is the raw rocker, with heavy bass, multiple guitar lines, and some truly restless drumming. I always enjoy it, though the vocals are not effective and can wear thin over time. Elegy is a jazzy number that sounds a stark contrast from the opener. It's light and crisp, showing the band can tighten up when they want. Butty's Blues is obviously a bluesy number, more from the style of wailing horns and impatient organ than bayou blues. Again, a good song, but nothing spectacular, and it doesn't improve meaningfully on what's been done before in the genre. The Machine Demands a Sacrifice has a bit of a Latin influence, and even has a less-than-convincing freakout to conclude. Decent tune (the flute is a welcome addition as well), but nothing to return to frequently.

The Valentyne Suite. Of course I knew to expect something interesting, but based on what came on the A side, I was not prepared for this gem. This is a series of structured jams that moves through a variety of dynamics and tempos. They really like the build style here, and I for one am thrilled! Some of the grooves work up to some truly chaotic and raw flourishes, especially from the organ. Each instrument really gets a chance to shine, and they do a great job of not jamming for too long. This baby is crisp, consice, and absolutely bursting with energy. If you can't rock to this, you need to check your pulse. I especially like the ending--a huge build, followed by a cathartic, raw refrain from earlier.

An enjoyable album, but only necessary for the Valentyne Suite epic. Because this album is not altogether coherent and not really breaking any new ground, I'll pull up short in granting it masterpiece status, though the epic has some truly incredible moments. Stronlgy recommended for fans of jazz rock. Bonus points for the album art.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#137778)
Posted Tuesday, September 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars So, what do you do if you want to check out some jazzy rock? You find the top rated albums at progarchives, of course, and give them a go. This was luckily the first one I laid my hands upon, as I later haven't only had great moments with jazz rock. This one contains both some jazz and blues, and may not be the most progressive album of the genre. The year of release considered, though, this sure was innovative and progressive.

It really took me some time to get into it, as I first found the title track a bit dull and eventless. It grew on me eventually though, and I now rate it as one of the great epics in prog. Can't wait until I get to play it loud at home, the laptop speakers and earphones just won't do in the long run. The rest of the tracks are not as good as the title track, naturally, but they're all excellent tracks. I especially like the emotionally charged "Butty's Blues", Heckstall-Smith does an amazing job on the sax; his solo work is some of the best I've ever heard. The vocals are awesome too, as they are throughout the whole album.

Without a doubt a masterpiece for me, though others may not find it progressive enough to rate it as essential. 5 stars.

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Send comments to freddan (BETA) | Report this review (#137798)
Posted Tuesday, September 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars You know those 50 things you want or need to do before you die - well one of mine was to see the Colosseum play the Valentyne Suite live - and last year I did in a Culture Centre in Oldenburg Germany. Barbara Thompson was on sax and replicated the late Dick Heckstall-Smith's deft handling of the intricate moods on this brilliant piece. Unfortunately Dave Greenslade didn't have his vibes with him but his unique distinct keyboards playing matched that on the original album. So back to the album then. There are a couple of nice pieces on Side One (in vinyl terms) - the Elegy and Butty's Blues accompanied by two quite distinct non-Colosseum sounding pieces (pre Farlowe and Clem) - but the star of the show is the Valentyne Suite. Jon Hiseman articulates in his cover notes the thought process behind the piece so no need to go over this - just relax and enjoy the changes in mood, texture, pace and 'conflict'. If I was to name my top 3 concept pieces of all time - 3rd A Tab in the Ocean - Nektar; 2nd Close to the Edge - Yes and 1st the Valentyne Suite by the band that could do everything - blues, soul, rock, jazz - the fabulous Colosseum.

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Send comments to DAVE M (BETA) | Report this review (#163292)
Posted Thursday, March 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars If I was rating this album just on the sound alone.....I would be wavering between 4 stars and 5 stars....but given that this album came out in 1969.....I am sure it must have influenced some of my favourite artists....so I will bump it up to 5 stars..... In some places this sounds more like blues rock fusion than jazz rock fusion....but hey....I am not complaining! ..... The whole thing is a treat to listen to.....and I am still trying to figure out why I never heard of this band until 2006 when I stumbled upon this very kool website known as progarchives.... Two thumbs way up !

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Send comments to digdug (BETA) | Report this review (#168831)
Posted Sunday, April 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars It is difficult to rate this album. The 16 minutes+ title track is a groundbreaking masterpiece! The rest, however, is not very impressive at all. It is basically an eclectic mix of blues and jazz, with a few soul influences and some quite heavy rock. The track Butty's Blues is exactly what the title implies and at over six minutes it is way too long for its own good! This track is clearly the low point of this album.

The whole album is unfortunately very badly recorded (and I'm talking about the remastered version here!). The follow up album, _Daughter of Time_ is better in almost all respects.

The Vallentyne Suite is indeed a classic but this original studio version is not the ultimate version of it in my opinion. I recommend buying the live concert DVD Colloseum Lives: The Complete Reunion Concert instead.

Had this album been better recorded/produced and the other tracks had sounded as good and inspired as the title track, this album would get a much higher rating from me. But as it stands it is only a fair album.

Good, but non-essential

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#177540)
Posted Monday, July 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Valentyne Suite" was released in 1969 which places near the beginning of the Progressive Rock movement. It really is an album of two very different halves. Side one is made up of mostly Blues / Jazz Rock tunes, while the whole of side two is made up of the very proggy title track. This all -instrumental title track is one of the best progressive songs from the sixties.That alone makes this album worth 4 stars in my opinion, but I like all the songs on here.

"The Kettle" is a song I liked instantly. It's really a guitar driven, psychedelic flavoured tune with great vocals. Very catchy as well. "Elegy" is a jazzy tune with the focus on the vocals. Sax after 1 1/2 minutes joined by a string section. I like this as much as the first track. "Butty's Blues" is a blues track obviously. Butty was a nickname that Dave Greenslade gave James Litherland. It's slang for a thick slice of bread and butter, which James apparently enjoyed a lot. Organ and drums to open with horns arriving a minute in. Vocals follow. If you like blues you should check this tune out. Sax solo after 3 minutes. "The Machine Demands A Sacrifice" is a little hard to enjoy for me because the vocals are a little harsh. I really like the organ / bass passage after 1 1/2 minutes though. It calms right down before 2 1/2 minutes before building back up in a powerful and spacey way. The second half of the track saves the day for me.

"The Valentyne Suite" is a 17 minute ride that's worth the price of admission alone. The organ early from Greenslade is fantastic. And the drumming is very impressive. Lots of vibes and sax too. A calm with piano and sax after 2 minutes. Drums join in. Some nice organ work 4 minutes in then it kicks back in with an uptempo drum / organ led melody. Another calm 6 1/2 minutes in as vocal melodies arrive then sax. They just seem to jam until the guitar come in before 13 minutes (and goes on and on) as drums pound and bass throbs. Love that section. Check out the drumming before 16 minutes. It ends with a melody from earlier.

These guys were all fine musicians with most of them having a Blues background playing with John Mayall's Bluebreakers. Greenslade was the exception, and he of course would go on to form the great GREENSLADE.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#181847)
Posted Friday, September 05, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Surprising to see this one classified as Jazz Rock / Fusion. It rather edges on the early prog / heavy blues side. The sound, rich and heavy, comes close to the most sophisticated Keef Hartley Band albums (with some line-up intertwinning). Compositions are ambitious, which is probably the strongest justification for seeing the album as an early prog classic. Valentyne suite must have been quite innovative at the time (it was admittedly a time full of innovations), and it remains today a very singular piece in the rock music. The Kettle and Machine demands a sacrifice are fabulous songs, while the title track fulfill all expectations. Unfortunately, the two remaining songs are less imaginative, which might explain why the album hasn't reach a real cult status. Quite worth your money, though !

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Send comments to snookerfool (BETA) | Report this review (#187753)
Posted Sunday, November 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars So what's the fuss about ?

I don't understand why I forked out a fortune for this album and I do not understand why it is so highly rated. Behind the hype, there are some funky blues with some references to jazz.

The opening track The Kettle is good with it's mix of funk, jazz and blues. But it is nothing special. The two following tracks Elegy and Butty's Blues is nothing but funky blues. Quite boring, in fact. The Machine Demands A Sacrifice is best ignored. The main piece, the title track clocks in on almost seventeen minutes and is good. It has David Greenslade name all written over it and I can understand why it is popular. These seventeen minutes is the only interesting piece of music on this album. It also have some references to progressive prog in it's structure.

It is very nice that everybody 'but me enjoys this album. I simply does not get this.

3 stars only saved by the title track. And I feel I am in a good mood here.

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#188158)
Posted Thursday, November 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars It is a pleasure to re-write a review for this masterpiece from Colosseum. "Valentyne Suite" is one of the most accomplished albums of the late 60s when prog was an embryo. I originally gave this 3 stars and did not get into it initially but over the years this album has become a masterpiece in my collection. So I rewrite this review with apologies.

The album is legendary and the best the band produced. The album cover is a wonderful landscape with a mysterious ghostly woman standing forlorn near a massive candle. The music though is not a serene tranquil soundscape. In fact, the dynamism and energy injected into such songs as The Kettle and The Machine Demands a Sacrifice is astonishing. There is a heavy emphasis on guitar riffs and staccato Hammond. Dave Greenslade is a prog legend and he is on fire here, creating amazing atmospheric music on organ. Dick Hestall-Smith is commendable on sax and is well supported by virtuosos guitarist James Litherland. The rhythm machine is the bass of Tony Reeves and percussive work of Jon Hiseman. Together the band are an indelible force generating mind blowing music that forever changed the face of progressive music. They proved that a multi movement suite could be put onto a rock album well before the likes of Genesis' Supper's Ready, or Yes' Close to the Edge. Colosseum were pioneers of the form and were able to perform blues, heavy rock and symphonic art rock with ease.

There are two versions that are markedly different. The UK album featured not only different track order than the US version, but also included different songs. The Kettle is one of the greatest tracks on the UK and is missing on the US version. The Valentyne Suite is completely omitted on the US album which is bizarre considering the name of the album, and of course the US actually changed the title to "The Grass is Greener" as it included that song. US also added Bolero, Rope Ladder to the Moon, Jumping Off The Sun and Lost Angels. I have both versions on a double CD and prefer the original UK album featuring the suite and live broadcasts of Lost Angels and Arthur's Moustache.

This is a breakthrough album certainly not only for Colosseum but for prog rock, similar to King Crimson's debut ITCOTCK, and VDGG's TGAM. 1969 was a breakthrough year for the genre of course and set the boundaries and rules for progressive music. This album features all the prog elements: the side long epic 'The Valentyne Suite' (absolute brilliance), the thematic proggy 'The Machine Demands A Sacrifice ' and the ultra riff heavy 'The Kettle ' (my favourite). This in itself is deserving of a high star rating. I rate it up from 3 stars to 4.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#208442)
Posted Monday, March 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Kiwi1 (BETA) | Report this review (#210013)
Posted Friday, April 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Valentyne Suite, Colosseum, 1969

The leap from the talented but somewhat hamfisted Those Who Are About To Die to the chic, suave musical narrative of Valentyne Suite is a remarkable step for this early traditionally-rooted jazz/rock outfit. From the first crunchy guitar chords and the entrance of Hiseman's superb, laid-back, absolutely textbook drumming, it clear this album is something special, fun and unique. Get a cup of your favourite brew, connect Valentyne Suite to your CD player and *relax*.

The Kettle is punchy, classy, deceptively simple-sounding jazz rock. Some belters of bass solos from the criminally unknown Tony Reeves, quality wailing blues guitar, a great riff and Hiseman's ever-present supporting, classy drumming. The lyrics are mostly nonsense, but sound great and the general energy is just right.

Elegy is one of the album's most unusual pieces and, to be frank, it doesn't quite work for me. Litherland's vocals are best for me in very small doses, and the disjointed organ/sax interplay is clearly very clever but fails to go much beyond that. Not quite sure whether the violins are really doing much but everyone's kicking around nicely, and any band with the instrumental talent and taste Colosseum have naturally leave redeeming features all over the place, whether in the solos or a neat bit of interaction I didn't quite notice before.

Butty's Blues is, predictably enough, a blues. Nothing wrong with that and it is a very creative one. Dave Greenslade on organ brings the house down wonderfully with a biting harmonica-impression and the one-man-brass-section-sound of Dick Heckstall-Smith is not to be underestimated. Litherland's vocals, guitar and the attached lyrics are a perfect fit. The rhythm section, as always, is great. Love it to pieces.

The Machine Demands A Sacrifice is the most frantic and strange piece on side one, going for a sort of edgy, cutting vibe and actually hitting it very well. Wonderfully choppy organ that grooves in a way that takes a while to work into you, snarly vocals, a rhythm section that alternates tense aggression, avant-garde percussions and charmingly absentminded jazz with absolute fluency. Not to mention the menacing rebirth of the piece towards the end into a block of sound. Strange, but it really works.

And now, the big bit: Hiseman's entrance is simply a 'you're here' announcement. Crisp, fresh, warm percussion lines, a bit of Broadway style offering a cinematic overview in glimpses between the band's precise, coherent jazz improvisations. Dave Greenslade is on particular top form, adeptly tackling wandering vibraphone, glaring organs and an incredibly smooth piano trio with Dick Heckstall Smith's mournful saxophone and a mounting wall of expressive percussion. The ideas are just everywhere, playing is precise, sharp and you get the sense of a band who are truly in the zone. Just when you're in your comfort zone, one of the neatest rhythm section parts ever written thunders out of the woodwork in air-drumming ecstasy. And hey, that's like inverted classical distorted organ... I mean... wow, where is this...

The band simply has an astonishing capacity for this huge, improvisationally-rooted, many-part composition with roots in a huge number of styles coherently in unexpected and wonderful directions and then pulling it back together. Going through all the details would be a waste of my time and yours, but highlights include a Litherland-Reeves duet, almost each and every time John Hiseman inserts in a fill. Strictly in and of themselves, I think the bright first and destructive third parts are a bit better than the second, but it's the second that ties it all together and allows the third to seem so appropriate. An absolute triumph.

Onto bonus goodies (both lives, neither produced spectacularly, but both very audible): Arthur's moustache is an initially sluggish jazzy piece with what I think is a bass solo and a half slammed in the middle. You get an impression of what the band is doing, and that it's probably a good thing, even if the claustrophobic sound makes it fairly heavy going.

The more open Lost Angeles resembles, with its rolling vibraphone, the more pictorial bits of Valentyne Suite. Again, the extensive vocal bits don't really seem to serve the piece, but they're niceish, and Hiseman and, indeed, the whole band, seems to be on pretty much top form and we get some delicious guitar soloing. Worth hearing if you're a fan of the group.

So, props to an absolutely killer album. Only the slightly irksome presence of elegy is warding off a fifth star, but, for all that, you won't find a better other thirty minutes of music easily and for fans of musicians who know what they're doing, this is one of those albums you might not have but which contains half a dozen real virtuosos without the contagious impulse to show off at every possible juncture. Which isn't to say that they don't do just that more than sufficiently a lot of the time. If you don't have this album, your collection is incomplete.

Rating: Four Stars, possibly going to be revised to a five if I find myself warming to Elegy at some point in the future Favourite track: First part of Valentyne Suite, hands down.

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Send comments to TGM: Orb (BETA) | Report this review (#234539)
Posted Sunday, August 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Valentyne Suite is one fo those algums you hear a lot about it, but only recently I found a copy of the album to actually sit down and listen. If you´re expecting something symphonic, then most of this work is not very progressive at all. it´s much of that day´s blues rock band and, in that field, quite interesting and, yes, progressive.

The first number, the kettle, did not move me. It´s a pastiche of Jimi Hendrix Experience/Cream stuff, not very imaginative nor original. With Elegy things start to improve a little with a good mix of blues and soul, featuring some nice rhythm guitar. Betty´s Blues is an interesting jazz/blues number, with some real scrreaming brass arrangements. The Machine Demands a Sacrifice (what a title!) is too a nice number lead by a driving organ, strong rhythm (including some inovative percussion at the end) and a powerful use of brass and flute. it also has the best vocals of the entire album.

The real gem of the album, at least prog wise, is the 16 minute suite title track. This instrumental Piece is not only the album´s highlight but a very groundbreaking work at the time with stunning organ runs, shifting moods and rhythms, fine sax parts and one true embrace of jazz, rock and classical music. Even if at the time other groups were doing something similar (The Nice comes in mind), Colosseum´s contribution is not small in this part.

I can´t really say I´m totally enraptured by this album. I was never a fan of jazz and blues for starters. And at the time I felt much closer to the work of other, more classic influenced and melodic groups. However, I can´t deny the sheer power of this CD and its contribution to the evolution of prog music in general. Personally I´d rate this album three stars. For its importance I´m giving it another half star. If you´re into 60´s progressive blues stuff, this is a must have. If you´re into general prog music history this CD an excellent addition. For me Valetyne Suite is good, with a brilliant last part. 3,5 stars.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#279463)
Posted Monday, April 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Second Colosseum studio album is possibly the best late 60-s jazz-rock album. Not jazz fusion ( which for me means genre, invited by jazz musicians, added rock elements to their jazz music), but real jazz rock (when rock musicians took from jazz it's improvisation & instrumental arrangements.

Characteristically to time of its release, this is so called "early jazz rock" - heavy bluesy rooted with rock and jazz added in almost equal proportions. Excellent rock energy, bluesy soul, and jazzy musicianship. Dick Heckstall-Smith sax soloing is one of his best ( speaking about jazz rock music), rhythm section is heavy and great, James Litherland is band's best vocalist.

Rare balance between heavy and melodic blues-rock and jamming, long jazzy compositions. Kind of music was missed very soon in music history.

By the way, fans can compare this album with band's next release, strange "The Grass Is Greener" release for US market, where are some same songs, as on "Valentyne Suite", but recorded with band's new singer and guitarist Dave Clempson.

My rating - 4+.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#283197)
Posted Sunday, May 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Valentyne Suite is an old classic from 1969, the year where influences from classical music and jazz became increasingly important in psychedelic rock. It won't register as prog with everyone yet and people that don't like either blues or jazz won't probably go wild over this release at all.

For me this is first and foremost an superb collection of heartfelt music, with varied songwriting and an open-minded attitude.

With The Kettle we take a strong rocking start with heavy psychedelic blues rock, rather similar to what also Deep Purple was doing those days. Elegy remains equally upbeat, but with a more jazzy swing. Time for a blues on Butty's Blues, traditional in style but simply excellent. I could become a real blues fan from listening to this stuff. The Machine is a track that I could do without. It's not bad but rather straightforward, except for the noisy ending that reminds of PF's Bike.

On to what everyone was waiting for, Prog! A whole suite of it actually. The first part brings The Nice and Deep Purple to mind, full of heavy rocking energy and classical-inspired organ melodies. It develops into a great organ and sax jam on a rockabilly bass line. Part two starts a bit more mellow, full of oohs and ahs and romantic themes. Part three lets the guitar come to the fore. The band runs wild again on this one.

An inspired and vigorous lump of early prog rock, with the emphasis on rock!

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#284731)
Posted Thursday, June 03, 2010 | Review Permalink
stefro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars One of the pivotal early progressive rock releases, Colosseum's Valentyne Suite' album has long been rightfully hailed as a classic of the genre. Blending jazz, blues and rock in equal measure, Colosseum were part of the first wave of prog bands alongside the likes of King Crimson, Still Life, Rare Bird and Genesis, releasing their debut album 'Those Who Are About To Die We Salute You' in 1968, just after Procol Harum had unleashed the multi-part epic 'In Held Twas I' from their 'Shine On Brightly' album. Whilst Colosseum's first album showed a group still learning their trade, 'Valentyne Suite' would see all the disparate elements sown together almost perfectly, creating a thrilling union of rough-edged blues-rock, jazzy textures and complex time-signatures that belied their youthful status. Opening track 'The Kettle' finds the group in blistering form, with James Litherland's prime guitar riffs and Dave Greenslade's wailing vocals pounding energetically through four-and-a-half minutes of almost Hendrixian rock 'n' roll, the song all the time teetering on the edge of instrumental chaos and threatening to lose it's rhythmic grip but somehow always holding on to the pulse. It's a thrilling sonic sound-clash that perfectly illustrates Colosseum's imaginative style, whilst the more melodic, jazzier follow-up 'Elegy' provides the perfect antidote, settling things down with some classy sax from Dick Heckstall-Smith. For many, however, the real treat on 'Valentyne Suite' is the three-part title track, which provides a lengthy, ever-twisting journey through Colosseum's jazz-fuelled reading of contemporary rock, with cool sax, finely-tuned guitars and Dave Greenslade's beautifully-played organ combining to wonderful effect. Indeed, 'Valentyne Suite' would provide the high watermark for Colosseum's brief-but-brilliant tenure, with the less engaging but still worthy follow-up 'Daughter Of Time' providing yet more swiftly-executed jazz-rock and the live effort - titled, rather blandly, 'Colosseum Live' - demonstrating each members impressive playing skills as they stretch and mould various album tracks into exciting new versions, each album featuring an earthy and richly-imbued sensitivity for the modalities of their material. Like the best jazz-themed rock Colosseum have that canny ability to appeal to several audiences at once, with their breathtaking playing and innovative merging of styles putting them on a par with the other jazz-prog greats of the era, such as Soft Machine, Nucleus, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Miles Davis. A classy treat, 'Valentyne Suite' fully deserves it's place in the pantheon of great and influential progressive rock albums. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#293775)
Posted Sunday, August 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Colosseum - Valentyne Suite (1969)

This really is a pleasent, eclectic proto-prog record. Colosseum plays a mix of heavy rock- songwriting, jazzy blues-rock, jazz improvisations & wind-sections and some very intelligent composition. The long title-track that fills side two can be seen as one of the first eclectic prog epics.

When I started writing this reviews I had to check the year of release of this album and I was actually a bit suprised. Dating from '69, this is really a revolutionary record! It's vision is more evolved then that of the debut of another major jazz-rock pioneer Chicago and the diversity of the material is also something worth mentioning. The musicians involved are all very very good, though I would like to point at key/organ-player Dave Greenslade as the real man of the match (mostly because of his amazing compositions and solo's on the title track). With two motivated vocalists the vocals stand-out as refreshing on every song (I'd almost think they had more vocalists). The use of sax played by Dick Heckstall-Smith is very good and functional. His solo's are also one of main attractions of the the title track.

The four songs on side one are all strong in compositions and all have their catchy moments (or are catchy throughout). The Ketlle has a hard-rock sound with that heavy'n'free Led Zeppelin feel. Butty's Blues is a more conventional (or should I say 'classic') approach on a jazzy blues. The Machine Demands A Sacrifice has a nice political feel and the refrein is very melodic and sticky. The ending section of the song is funny and a bit Gentle Giant like.

On side two, The Valentyne Suite, stands out as one of the major recordings of '69. With it's amzing adventerious eclectic opening section you can't help getting excited and a feeling of WOOHW arises. The varius sections are all very good, though I would like to refer to the extended key-solo by Greenslade and the sax solo (on an almost classcial theme) as highlights. The ending section of the song has less catchy parts and sometimes I loose my attention at the end of this huge composition. Still it has many good moments with a drum-solo and ofcourse a lot of rockin' guitar noodling.

Conclusion. This is a safe buy. This album is as much eclectic & proto-prog as it is jazz- rock and it's sound should appeal to fans both genres. Furthermore it's a prime example of the progressive genre gaining momentum in 1969. No less then an excellent addition to any prog rock collection for this one. Four stars.

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#329629)
Posted Monday, November 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars One thing I have Noticed about many , If not the majority of reviews here at this kick ass site, Jazz is not taken kindly too. especially the mid to late 70's variety , This album is in my opinion a stone classic of progressive rock and even psychedelia, Since I came into the prog world through the jazz door, I welcome a heavy jazz influence. I will tell you the first time i heard the epic 16 minutes of The Valentyne suite I was hooked on this band, very powerful with a in your face organ and sax . strong grooving bass, I have always been a sucker for a hammond organ ,All the numbers are alive with passion and blues and jazz is right there in your face. I was a bit surprised at Daugter of Time and the Grass is Greener, the sound seems to be less jazzy. but i have enjoy their entire discography.

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Send comments to darkprinceofjazz (BETA) | Report this review (#404785)
Posted Monday, February 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A strong album from Dave Greenslade's first band cements Dave's position as the jazz-rock Keith Emerson: Greenslade's organ playing has all the flair and aggression of Emerson, but has far less classical influence and takes far more from the jazz side of things. The band as a whole does a good enough job, with a side of short songs that resemble the sort of material Cream might have released if they had a hot organist and a bit more fusion influence, and the epic Valentyne Suite itself, a true keyboard tour de force for Greenslade. Not the best album that the Vertigo label would release, but a very fine one nonetheless, and an excellent start for a wonderful home for progressive music.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#456974)
Posted Saturday, June 04, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have to admit that it is my favourite album of Colosseum. It has accompanied me since 1971 and I always return to it with great pleasure. I love to listen to its vinyl version (do you know the wonderful feeling when you take out the record carefully from the envelop, wipe it with a cloth with an antistatic liquid and put it on a turntable?), but I do not discard a CD played in the car either. This album has a magic, some force which does not allow you to stop listening to it. It is just like in Hitchock's films: they start with an earthquake and then the tension continues to grow. The Kettle is an earthquake here - it is a hard rock piece, with a daring rhythmic section where a guitar riff develops - if it had appeared in a Led Zeppelin album, it would have become a world-wide hit. The tension grows with the jazzy work Elegy, recorded with a participation of a string instruments, a nostalgic blues Butty's Blues and classic rock The Machine Demands A Sacrifice, to achieve the crescendo in Valentyne Suite, occupying the whole second side of the vinyl. It is a real masterpiece, the biggest artistic achievement of Colosseum. It consists of three parts, which were created in different periods and composed by different persons. However they constitute a coherent and logic whole, presenting first love feelings and first disappointments.The composition is perfectly arranged. Every instrument is precisely in its place, there is order, but there is also place for improvisations of organ, saxophone, and the guitar. It starts with a wonderful motive with organ, with a vibraphone undertaking a dialogue with them. Another part is a thrilling duo of saxophone and grand piano (yes, yes, no electronic imitator, but a real grand piano). Then a quick riff with the bass guitar introducing an energetic solo with organ finishing the first part. The second part starts pathetically; after a few organ accords there enter vocalize sung by several persons. It forms a background for a calm, saxophone solo part, which then becomes more predacious, not to say aggressive. As it is in Dick ... Strong drums accents end the second part. In the third part the guitar claimed to speak. The initial melancholic atmosphere, constructed together with a saxophone and organ, disappears when it starts to play more aggressively, and the rhythmic section sets out a quicker speed. And it continues till the culmination, followed by the repeated leading motive ending the work. In my personal progrock suites' ranking, Valentyne Suite has the leading place, although Tarkus ? ELP, Nine Feet Underground ? Caravan, or Close To The Edge ? Yes are just behind it.

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Send comments to lotjanek (BETA) | Report this review (#500850)
Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Valentyne Suite is often seen as the peak of Collosseum's career. The styl is classified as fusion. In this case it's a fusion of brassrock and hardrock; a mixture of Chicago and Deep Purple flooded with solo's of guitars, saxophones, flutes and keys. This fusion sometimes comes close to progressive styles like eclectic prog or symphonic prog. For 1969 this belongs to the first wave of progressive rock together with King Crimson, Renaissance e.a..

-Side one- The first side is filled with four songs with styles differing from hardrock (The Kettle) to brassrock and also some jungleflute parts. While I'm not so fond of the vocalist I do admire the direct sound of the many solo's and the variation in sound.

-Side two- Just one long track - the titletrack: the Valentyne Suite. Someone could expect a romantic track because of the title, but this is not the case. The Valentyne Suite is just a long jazzrock/brassrock track with a nice theme and lot's of jams. The structure could have been more intellectual, but the solo's are great. This is one long instrumental piece.

This record has a great production for it's time and the musicians are highly skilled. If the songstructures were more intellectual this could have been a masterpiece.

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Send comments to the philosopher (BETA) | Report this review (#679815)
Posted Saturday, March 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Not so much a review as a personal view of an album which I believe was the first to be released on the Verigo label, so found it interesting, as I like a lot of music from the same label.

Colosseum's, Valentyne Suite starts with the very energetic "The Kettle". As an opener, gets me going quickly. Not much of a brass man, so don't really care much for the brass segments in this release. Butty's Blues is as best they come when we talking The Blues'

Throughout this record, I find the keyboards of Dave Greenslade, to be exceptional. Valentyne Suite ' Theme One ' Excellent!

Overall an enjoyable album, but rates on the wrong side of 3.5, so a 3 is my verdict.

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Send comments to Ozymandias (BETA) | Report this review (#732445)
Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Colosseum's "Valentyne Suite" was one of the first records of the group i ever heard and owned, finding an lp copy of it in 1988. I was instantly impressed with the combination of variety and cohesion here in this record which the band pull off incredibly well.

On the first track called "The Kettle", they remind me of Cream, and "outcream" Cream in a dazzling display of guitar-led, no holds barred aggression. The song is also a focus for the vocal work of James Litherland, who is a fine singer, as evidenced also by the remaining numbers on side one of the lp. Those other side one tracks display a crafty knowledge of both the blues and jazz that are united in a partly rock framework, and whether there are vocals or instrumental passages, things never drag for an instant or lose your interest.

A highlight of this whole record is the drumming of Jon Hiseman, who at times has a busy, aggressive delivery, but never can be summed up as only that , what with a creativity and colorful approach that has set many a benchmark for other drummers.

The greatest highlight of this record, though, is the three part "Valentyne Suite" comprising side two of the lp. A longtime staple of the band's live concert repertory, and rightly so, as it brilliantly displays the instrumental prowess and capabilities of Colosseum in a stunning, exciting work that was just made to be played live. There are a few backing vocals to the suite, but one of the really remarkable things about it, is how different instrumentalists, like Dick Heckstall-Smith on sax and Dave Greenslade on keys especially, have room to breathe and articulate some wonderful soloing, but never loose "the framework of the whole". (same could be said of Litherland's guitar soloing) And Tony Reeves on bass does a great job of bridging the gap between Hiseman's complex, multi-faceted drumming technique and the rest of the band. There is a cohesive direction to The Valentyne Suite, and near the end of "Theme Three", Hiseman plays some drum flourishes that unite the other band members and leave you at the end wishing things hadn't finished. This album has to be heard to be believed. Five stars.

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Send comments to presdoug (BETA) | Report this review (#944173)
Posted Monday, April 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
GruvanDahlman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Though really not that different from their debut, it's still quite an improvement. Retaining their strong blues and jazz influences they go into a more progressive jazz rock territory, making Valentyne suite a delight. While the title track is a true prog epic, the other tracks are pleasant but not necessarily progressive. "The machine demands a sacrifice" is proggish jazz rock while "Butty's blues" is a straight forward blues number and as such it is a splendid track. "Elegy" seems to be a continuation of "Beware the ides of march", in dome ways, with it's warm and pleasant ambiance.

Conclusion: Valentyne's suite is a slightly more prog-oriented album, still retaining the bluesy jazz rock of their debut. It is the pinnacle in the first three albums Colosseum released and as such theobvious choice for anyone interested in the band, proto-prog, prog and/or jazz rock. Brilliant and well executed.

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Send comments to GruvanDahlman (BETA) | Report this review (#966966)
Posted Thursday, May 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars Just a month after the debut of Colosseum, the band was honoured to be part of the Supershow jam session, a music documentary film, featuring several important names of Rock, Blues and Jazz music like Led Zeppelin, Buddy Guy, Jack Bruce and Buddy Miles.In November 69' the second album was released, the first ever publishment by Vertigo Records, a sublabel of Phillips.''Valentyne suite'' was the title and it was produced again by Tony Reeves and Gerry Bron, as the album was recorded around the same time with ''Those who are about to die salute you''.

While being fairly rooted in a late-60's sound, ''Valentyne suite'' show shines of a progressing style, especially in the long eponymous track.Actually the first side is not really impressive.With evident psychedelic and bluesy inspirations the four tracks explore Rock, Funk, Jazz, Blues and Horn Rock, based on the psych-influenced organ moves, the melodic sax solos, the smooth guitar parts and James Litherland's expressive voice.Some orchestral textures are also present, while ''The Kettle'' seems to be the most interesting piece with its powerful, raw, old-school Psychedelic Rock sound.On the flipside Colosseum attempt to deliver a long, daring and more experimental composition.''Valentyne suite'' is a 17-min. opus, divided in three themes, with long instrumental jams, where Jazz Rock meets Psych/Prog in one of the earliest examples of a growing Prog movement.Greenslade adds a slight dose of Classical preludes on his organ and piano performances and finally Colosseum come up with some enganging and trully fascinating material.Powerful and grandiose sax passages meet funky bass grooves, strong Hammond organ runs and irritating piano textures, while even James Litherland's guitar is more prominent with a main role to the music.Lots of nice breaks are placed between frenetic solos and more tighly structured ideas, while the individual performances are often stunning with extreme virtuosity and passion.This time no vocals are added, letting the musical execution speak of Colosseum's composing talent, except for some mellow choir lines in the second theme.

''Valentyne suite'' is considered by many fans as a milestone of an emerging Prog scene.The weaker A side prevents me from personally considering it so, but the long eponymous suite of the B one is certainly a nice musical experiment, full of good executions and powerful instrumental craziness.Recommended.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#1025751)
Posted Friday, August 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I think this album could be considered a masterpiece of music and from the first driving notes of the edgy guitar on 'The Kettle', I knew I was in for a treat. As catchy as they are melodic, Colosseum deliver a bluesy but driven sound on this album. The first four songs are unique on their own and offer a little variety so as not to bore the listener. What really crowns this album is its ~17 minute self-titled track, 'The Valentyne Suite'. Here we witness a flourish of keyboards courtesy of Greenslade and Jazz/Rock passages that make this song stand out as a piece deserving of its length. From the wonderful saxophone to the rising climax at the end, from the sudden shift of sound somewhere in the middle which caught me completely off guard to the reprising melody that just bursts with the right notes, this is a song just begging to be appreciated. Easily accessible and great for practically any occasion, I'm going to give it five stars because I believe it really is a perfect album and there's nothing I do not like about it.

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Send comments to ebil0505 (BETA) | Report this review (#1167813)
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2014 | Review Permalink

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