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Colosseum II

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Colosseum II Strange New Flesh album cover
3.63 | 149 ratings | 19 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Dark Side of the Moog (6:17)
2. Down to You (9:05)
3. Gemini and Leo (4:48)
4. Secret Places (3:59)
5. On Second Thoughts (7:30)
6. Winds (10:23)

Total Time 42:02

Bonus tracks on 2005 remaster:
7. Castles Version 1 (demo 1975) (11:09) *
8. Gary's Lament (demo 1975) (7:00) *
9. Walking the Park (demo 1975) (7:05) *

Bonus CD from 2005 remaster:
1. Night Creeper (demo 1976) (3:46) *
2. The Awakening (demo 1976) (11:43) *
3. Siren Song (demo 1976) (6:55) *
4. Castles Version 2 (demo 1976) (5:00) *
5. The Scorch (demo 1976) (4:39) *
6. Rivers (demo 1976) (4:27) *
7. Interplanetary Slut (demo 1976) (5:32) *
8. Dark Side of the Moog (live) (9:00) °
9. Siren Song (live) (12:13) °
10. The Awakening (live) (15:46) °

* Previously unreleased
° BBC session, In Concert, June 1976

Total Time 79:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Starrs / lead vocals (excl. bonus CD)
- Gary Moore / guitars, vocals
- Don Airey / Fender Rhodes, Steinway grand piano, ARP Odyssey, ARP Solina, Minimoog, Hammond organ, Clavinet
- Neil Murray / bass (excl. bonus CD)
- Jon Hiseman / drums, percussion, timpani, gong, producer

- John Mole / bass (bonus CD 2005)

Releases information

Artwork: Ross McLochness with Ian Emes (illustration)

LP Bronze Records - ILPS 9356 (1976, UK)

CD Victor ‎- VDP-1156 (1986, Japan)
CD Castle Communications PLC ‎- CLACD 104 (1987, France)
CD OneWay Records - OWCD 30647 (1994, US)
CD Castle Communications PLC ‎- CLACD 104 (1999, UK) Remastered (?)
2CD Castle Music - CMQDD 1198 (2005, Europe) Remastered at The Town House with 3 bonus tracks plus extra CD

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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COLOSSEUM II Strange New Flesh ratings distribution

(149 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

COLOSSEUM II Strange New Flesh reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!

After the demise of Tempest and its total lack of success, Hiseman had to reconsider his musical direction and return to a jazzier direction, hence the return to his Colosseum moniker. After parting company with Mark Clarke, Hiseman regrouped around young guitar prodigy Gary Moore (who was still in his love/hate Lizzy phases), keyboardist Don Airey, bassist Neil Murray and singer and used singer Mike Starrs, although I'm not sure he was an actual band member and whether it was a good idea at all to have a singer with the type of music developed by Col II. Indeed, finished are the hard rock and straight rock of Tempest, with Strange New Flesh, we're plunged into a boiling hot JR/F that is relatively typical of the late mid-70's, where the virtuosos are having a field day showing off their talents, as opposed to the early decade's more ambience-driven jazz-rock. All tracks are penned by Gary Moore with Hisemab lyrics, if you'll except the stunning opener and the cover that starts the album, and the stunning artwork depicts the band in full stride.

Starting on the emblematic and instrumental Dark Side Of The Moog (probably Col II's best track over their three albums) with its 100 mph ELP-esque intro and its slower-paced Mahavishnu middle section body, it's clear that Airey is no Emerson, but then again Keith is no Don either. RTF is also not far away on this particular track After the bizarre and interminable (quasi 9 minutes) Joni Mitchell reprise (I guess she was well seen among jazzmen after her homage album to Mingus) and Starrs' dramatic vocal delivery of the first verse, contrasting heavily with the following ones, it's clear that Starr's place in the group could've been occupied by MMEB's Chris Thompson. The following G&L is a funky cowbell affair (excellent Hiseman, here) with softer medium rare middle section.

The tree tracks of the flipside are a bit of the same mould, except maybe for the 10-mins+ Winds, which starts on a drum solo. Indeed Secret Place is probably the weakest track of the album, but since it's the shortest ... but I find Starr's singing intrusive and unbalanced. On Second Thought, this track is particularly insufferable (and not just on the second thought) with its awful first part where Starrs tries to emulate some of the worst Motown divas into soppy love tracks. Once he shuts up, then the last two minutes show some fine music that leads into the closing Winds. Indeed the closer is an RTF or Brand X type of hard fusion, and if Starrs does sing, it's much less present and the four musicians have a ball at it.

Personally I find Starr's voice irritating and mixed way too loud, often over-shadowing the rest of the group, and since he sings wayayayayay too often, it simply ruins the album for me, as I don't want to suffer them vocals to listen to the music behind it. Musically if this first album SNF is a gigantic step in the right direction compared to Tempest's two albums, it's also another long way before approaching the red hot fusion of the next two albums to come and we can't really say that I hear much of the original Colosseum either. Attack this album last, in case you're sure you like the later two albums.

Review by loserboy
3 stars Post David GREENSLADE-era COLOSSEUM II were a reincarnated version of COLOSSEUM Mark I but with less blues influences and perhaps more prog leanings. COLOSSEUM II was for many the first introduction of Gary Moore's fine guitar craftsmanship. I will always love the opening of this album which pays a humorous tribute to PINK FLOYD with their well crafted "Dark Side Of The Moog" unveiling this bands musical prowess and instrumental sophistication. "Strange New Flesh" reaches musically quite a vast range of possibilities including a re-make of Joni Mitchell's "Down To You" which features a killer middle keyboard improvisational section by Don Airey. The last 25 mins of this album is also quite memorable for this music lover with some great blues based prog rock featuring the standout guitar and keyboard interplay of Moore and Airey.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This debut album of a newly reformed band was truly a progressive rock band to the corner! The music is a blend of jazz rock fusion in the vein of RETURN TO FOREVER ("Romantic Warrior" album, especially), GONG as well as classic rock music in the vein of JAMES GANG ("Bang", "Straight Shooter" albums, especially) and also TRAPEZE - Glenn Hughes era (Medusa album, especially) or TOMY BOLIN ("Teaser" album, especially) or collaboration work of Carmine APPICE, BOGART and Jeff BECK, or FRUMPY. But of course there are plenty of prog elements of their own that cannot be compared with others. The vocal quality of MIKE STARRS is similar to GLENN HUGHES with a more jazzy style. I find that each track has a very unique music style so that I need to comment one by one.

The opening track "Dark side of the Moog" blew me at fist listening. It has a dazzling and powerful keyboard / moog works combined with stunning guitar fills by Gary MOORE. Honestly, it was this track that cause me to buy the CD due to our local classic rock radio station M97 aired "The Dark Side of The Moog" sometime in 2000. This track has a full of energy and frequent changing tempos. The first half of the track is an upbeat, fast tempo music that reminds me to AL DI MEOLA early works ("Racing with the Devil .."?). When it reaches the middle of the track, suddenly the mmusic changes to a moderate tempo. Overall, I can sense bits of RETURN TO FOREVER and GONG. It's a powerful and uplifting instrumental track. The solo keyboard is really fascinating - played in a high speed and combined with great electric guitar. This is the DON AIREY and GARY MORE collaboration - their instruments dominate the track.

"Down to you" is a mellow track with melodic guitar fills. The music is heavily influenced by a blend of classic rock, jazz and classical music. It has a dazzling keyboard in the vein of Chick Corea plus unique voice of Mike Starr. It's definitely an enjoyable track.

The music then moves to an upbeat "Gemini and Leo" track - an interesting track whereby the music is heavily influenced by jazz, funky and rock; it reminds me to a song "Superstition" performed by Carmine Appice, Bogart & Jeff Beck; not in terms of similarities, but more on the nuances and energy. Even this track is much more energetic. MIKE STARR singing style in this track is really superb. For those of you who love classic rock, I assure you that you would definitely enjoy this track. The bass line by NEIL MURRAY is also excellent. At the concluding part of the track you will find an interesting short piece with a nice harmony. This track is killer!

"Secret places" is still performed in similar vein as previous track in relatively moderate tempo. I find the electric guitar solo is more in the vein of classic rock music but the singing style is in jazzy and funky style especially when it is accentuated by keyboard sounds. Overall, this track is composed in one tagline melody with moderate changing tempo.

"On second thoughts" intro almost reminds me to the intro of "Mean Mistreater" of GRAND FUNK RAILROAD - a classic rock band of the 70's. It has different melody though; in fact the music is totally different. It's a mellow and nice track with soft electric guitar touch at the opening part. Again, MIKE STARR singing style is excellent - accompanied with keyboard based music . This track is relatively popular in my country as it sometimes was aired in local classic rock radio station, M97. The electric guitar solo during interlude is fascinating. This track reminds me to "This Time Around" by Deep Purple. They are not the same but they s hare similar "nuances".

The concluding track "Winds" is really fabulous! This is really the final ecstasy of overall enjoyment pleasure listening to this album in its entirety. Opened with a fantastic solo drumming of Jon HISEMAN that reminds me to BILLY COBHAM (especially in the intro of "Stratus" where he collaborated with TOMY BOLIN) or STEVE GADD. Hey, I have been listening to the CD of this album eleven times before I write this review and I had no experience of getting bored even a little bit. And this track deserves high mark as it concludes overall presentation of the band in excellent manner. You name it, any instrument and vocal line performs excellently in this track. The bass line is so dynamic, accompanied with punching keyboard work and filled with electric guitar work plus .. dazzling drum works by Jon Hiseman. Mike Starrs voice is so powerful!!! Oh my friend .. I'm so speechless on how how should I comment about this wonderfully crafted track! BTW, I'm writing this review while listening to this track and it really moves up my emotion, positively! It's a very energetic and soulful track!

Well, what should I say with this album - especially having reviewed track by track? It's a masterpiece, my friend. Yeah .. it's a masterpiece! I don't mind to be blamed as being so naďve, but I TRULY believe that this album has been UNDER-RATED. It should have been considered as a LEGENDARY PROG ROCK album. The rationales are: it has very strong and tight composition, well structured melodies, optimum balance between melody and improvisation, great musicianship, excellent performance and .. excellent production. So, it's a FULL FIVE STAR rating for this album. I assure you that if you listen to this album, you will definitely give at least four star. It's impossible that you would rate less than 4 star, impossible! The band would not allow you to rate this album less than 4 star as they have produced a masterpiece album! Yes, I'm a neo prog lover and this kind of prog is actually not in my cup of tea. But, I have to be honest and fair that this album is wonderful! I can't wait to review the other two albums: "Electric Savage" and "War Dance" that I have in my collection as well. Oh man .. life is so beautiful with this kind of great prog music as this band has produced.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars First of all, for those who are not in the know, let's get one thing straight: in spite of the name, this outfit has very little to do with the original Colosseum - one of the seminal jazz-rock bands of the late '60s and early 70's - but for the presence of monster skinsman Jon Hiseman (so conveniently forgotten in those boring "best drummer" polls, where everybody seems to think that Mike Portnoy is God's gift to drumming...). Colosseum II, showcasing the amazing talents of keyboard maestro Don Airey (currently with Deep Purple, where he replaced one Mr Jon Lord) and, especially, the fiery fretboard prowess of then 22-year-old Gary Moore - one of THE guitar gods, whatever you may think of his later career - were definitely harder-edged than the band's former incarnation. Nowadays better known for having played with Whitesnake and Black Sabbath, bassist Neil Murray tends to be given less credit than other four-stringers - however, before joining Colosseum II, Murray had played bass with Canterbury outfit Gilgamesh, and would later join National Health, taking the place that should have been occupied by Richard Sinclair. The musical proficiency of somebody who can keep up with both Jon Hiseman and Pip Pyle cannot be so easily disregarded.

Unlike other jazz-rock bands, though, Colosseum II didn't start out as a purely instrumental outfit, enlisting the vocal talents of former Cozy Powell's Hammer vocalist Mike Starrs. For many people, the sometimes overpowering presence of Starrs's otherwise excellent vocals (which, at times, oddly remind me of a richer, more controlled version of James LaBrie) detracts from the overall instrumental brilliance of the album. Personally, I quite like Starrs's singing, but I must also admit to having a slight preference for the instrumental tracks - then, let's face it, Gary Moore's backing vocals can be rather excruciating. I love his guitar playing to bits, and in later years he developed quite a respectable singing voice - but at this stage he couldn't sing to save his life, as proved by the two following Colosseum II albums.

Moore wrote most of the tracks on the album, with the exception of the Joni Mitchell cover "Down to You" - apparently a strange choice, yet rather successful, especially owing to Mike Starrs' passionate vocal performarce and Moore's melodic guitar. The album, however, opens in a completely different vein, with the blistering keyboard and guitar tour de force that is the aptly-titled "Dark Side of the Moog". "Gemini and Leo" is a funkier, jazzier track, with Starrs sounding a bit like Glenn Hughes in his Trapeze years. The following tracks, "Secret Place" and On Second Thoughts" continue in much the same vein, all featuring superb interplay between the four virtuoso musicians, as well as soaring, powerful vocals. Hiseman and Murray's propulsive rythm section is masterful throughout, but Moore and Airey are the ones who really steal the show. Original album closer "Winds" is a 10-minute-plus epic that summarises all that's great about this record, at the same time jazzy and hard-edged, with complex rythm changes and THAT magnificent guitar sound.

The recently released expanded edition contains some real treats for lovers of the band, including some live tracks on the second CD (with a killer version of "Dark Side of the Moog") and quite a few unreleased demos of songs, part of which would end up on the band's following albums, "Electric Savage" and "Wardance" - notably the original versions of blistering, intricate "Intergalactic Strut" (here bearing the amusing title of "Interplanetary Slut") and of beautiful Moore showcase "Gary's Lament", with his guitar at its melodic,wistful best. Shredders of the world, please take note - there's a guy who can really make his instrument speak with an almost human voice. Highly recommended to all lovers of great musicianship combined with heart and soul.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars This debut album is far more varied than the two subsequent Colosseum II albums with several vocal numbers. The band allows themselves to be more subtle and mellow here on some tracks giving the more loaded parts much better effect - you don't have to play to your fullest ability all the time to make good music! The influences are not just Jazz here, there are several nice funky and more soulful moments. The vocals are soulful too and quite good, though perhaps an acquired taste. Don Airey is great on the keyboards and Gary Moore shines on guitar. The leader of the band is Jon Hiseman, the super drummer.

The funky riff in Gemeni And Leo is identical to the I Can't Feel Nothing tracks from Captain Beyond's self- titled album. Coincidence? Probably.

There is no doubt about this one being the strongest Colosseum (II) album for me. And the only one I feel that you really need to have.


Review by Kazuhiro
4 stars The debut of Colosseum 2 would have been a big topic at appearance. Zeal to band by Jon Hiseman to say nothing of it. And, the point to have made this band appoint Gary Moore as a guitar player. Or, the appointment of Neil Murray and Don Airey might completely act on the music character of this band, too. The methodology of the sense of Jon Hiseman and the music character that should be aimed is completely expressed by the content of this album.

However, it was necessary to pile up a very long history by the time the music character that Jon Hiseman reached this Colosseum 2 and the quality is high was achieved. And, how Colosseum 2 contained zeal and inevitability might be understood if it thinks about the transition of the history of the music character by chasing it.

The activity of music for Jon Hiseman exactly extended to Taki and was done. Work in 1966 with Graham Bond Organization. And, it works with John Mayall 's Bluesbreakers in 1967. These parts might have contributed to the item of the music of Britain at that time attended with the element of Blues and the element of JazzRock. And, zeal to the music of Jon Hiseman at the time of 1968 became the shape of Colosseum and was expressed. Colosseum will have been one of the complete mode of expressions for Jon Hiseman.

However, changing places of the member of the band and musical diffusion temporarily shifted to the part in Tempest for Colosseum. The album of Tempest announced in 1973 will have been one exactly reformation of Blues Rock of Britain and Jazz Rozk in the field. And, it is also true that the measurable figure became complete as a part where various musicians who surround the band at this time also produce the music of one main current.

To proceed to the next step, Jon Hiseman that establishes one music in the flow that shifts from Colosseum to Tempest starts groping. And, Jon Hiseman felt the importance of Colosseum again in about one year. This Colosseum took the shape of Colosseum 2 and was reorganized in 1976. It was said that the theme that became a nucleus for Colosseum 2 was ensemble. The member who had been appointed to achieve the perfect ensemble and a high-quality music character completely acted on the zeal of Jon Hiseman. The point that should make a special mention especially by the content of this album is Ensemble of a complete band. And, it might be goodness of the compatibility of Gary Moore and Don Airey. The music character that should be aimed at that time at the time of thought by the member of this band acts as an exactly good chemical reaction because of the performance.

"Dark Side Of The Moog" shows ensemble of a complete band. The rhythm of a complex melody and fast 6 continues an overwhelming tension and the excitement. Dash feeling of Moog. Riff of guitar that continues straining. The flood of the melody and the rhythm intermittently repeated changes gradually. A heavy rhythm accompanies Interplay while putting fast and slow. The Spacey part might act on the tune well, too. The synthesizer that expands the width of the tune makes a good flow.

"Down To You" was a tune done by Joni Mitchell. If the arrangement of a tune each other is listened and compared, it might be interesting. The performance of Colosseum emphasizes Rock and ensemble further though Joni Mictchell expressed the element of a piano and a few orchestras having it. The song with the atmosphere of good Jazz while emphasizing the part of Free Tempo twines. The progress of a chorus and complete Chord is an arrangement for them. The anacatesthesia of the piano and the guitar is also splendid. And, the development of the rhythm of eight in close relation to twining of the synthesizer and the complexity expresses a progressive part. And, the melody and the song with expression of feelings are continued.

Be the obbligati of Moog and the feature in "Gemini And Leo" to emphasize Cowbell. The element of the part and Funk that Blues is good is taken and the dash feeling is produced. However, the atmosphere of British Jazz Rock that flows to the whole volume has acted well. An intermittent rhythm and the composition are complete.

In "Secret Places", a bright melody and the dash feeling are features. The line of the keyboard and Bass does good work. Gary Moore might also participate in the chorus. The explosion by Solo of the guitar and the part of Twin Bass Drum also contribute. The flow where it dashes while putting fast and slow gives production to run about the space.

"On Second Thoughts" starts by the melody of a good guitar. This tune is a tune made from Gary Moore. The melody of a good ballade has acted on the tune well. Melody of song that puts out element of Jazz ahead. Complete obbligati with synthesizer. The arrangement by the band is perfect. And, Solo of the guitar that Gary Moore did is an eminent performance. It might be one of the good performances in playing the guitar that he has done before. The tune advances while continuing the anacatesthesia. A solemn melody in the part of Coda is splendid.

"Winds" might be a tune with which the zeal of this band is blocked enough. The flow that multiused the note from Solo of a light drum for six minutes will call the excitement. Progress and arrangement of Chord developed one after another. The continuousness of the sound in close relation to the complexity is splendid. Solo and the dash feeling of Moog continue a good tension. Progressing a tune advanced as fast Passage is kept creates one space.

Zeal to the music of Jon Hiseman was completely expressed by this album with the member of the band. And, this album will be sure to be a masterpiece in the history of British Jazz Rock.

Review by ProgressiveAttic
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Matti
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.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars After the relatively failure of his hard rock project Tempst , drummer Jon Hiseman decided to revive the Colosseum name again, this time with a entire new line up. And what line up! Gary Mooore on guitar, Neil Murray on bass and Don Airey on keybaords. A real dream team, except maybe for the choice of singer Mike Starrs. He also decided to go back to a more jazzy sound, but with the addition of fashionable elements of the period (i.e., out goes the blues, in comes funk and soul).

The results are very good, of course, since it almost seen impossible to go wrong with that personnel on board. And the album starts with a bang: Dark Side Of The Moog is a tremendous fusion instrumental showing off the terrific skills of all band members, specially Airey, doing his strong Keith Emerson impersonation. Excellent start for the band. Unfortunatly things go not so well when Starss steps in. The guy surely has a good voice, but not exactly fitting for the band. It seems that Hiseman decided to cash in the latest soul trends and it simply didn´t work, At the time several funk and soul acts were incorporating falsetto singing (remember the Stylistics?) to their songs and the same goes in here with less than successful results. There are simply too much vocals on the way of the songs.

On the whole I think the instrumental parts are great, with Moore delivering some of his most inspired solos. Unfortunatly most of the time the vocals spoil what could be a very fine jazz rock/fusion/funk/soul combination. All the tracks could do without it.

A very good start for this band, even if the vocals do a great harm to several parts. Hence, I can´t give this record a higher rating. 3 stars ( and barely).

Review by lor68
3 stars Well, of course it was not equal to the best works by a small bunch of very interesting fusion bands in the seventies (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever or- once again the immortal Weather Report, for instance, just to mention a few ones), but this "Strange new..." is quite worth checking out nowadays!

First of all the style regarding the electric guitar often inspired some important guitarists, such as J. Beck for example; but also the melodic lines were quite important for a few British hard rock bands in the vein of Rainbow and R. Blackmore in general, talking about their vocalism.

Even though the present album was not defined at all, as it was a kind of "hybrid work", being a little bit distant from their jazz rock work entitled "War Dance"; and after all the "progressive blues" within the small jewel by Colosseum I ("Valentine suite") couldn't be emulated by Colosseum II. Nevertheless this debut new line up, including Jon Hiseman, Gary Moore and Don Airey was able to give the British Hard Rock a major importance or, if you prefer, a kind of improvement (an attempt, I mean...cause the album was not always inspiring) and that's enough to evaluate their effort as an interesting number to be remembered!

I don't think of their predominant blues/hard rock influences, sometimes resembling the common places of the seventies, but above all of their intelligent use concerning the Solina string synth and the solos at the acoustic piano as well, a sort of gift to Tony Banks, connected to a few classical textures, sometimes replaced by distorted tones, which became a "trademark" by Gary Moore, along with a certain emotional feeling in the vocal parts.

Make your own choice, as usual!

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Colosseum II is one of the most underrated progressive/jazz fusion bands ever IMO.Colosseum II is a fine combo featuring talented as well as skilled musicians that will influence later one thousands and thousands of musiciands from any genre. First album released in 1976 named Strange new fleash, offers right from the start the hudge potential this band weill have on their all 3 albums released before disbanding in 1978. Probably this album is my least fav from all 3, not because is bad, far from it, is quite excellent and a perfect example is The dark side of the moog, like the rest.complexity meets melodic passages into one unit, the musicianship is top notch, each musician is master at their instruments, specially and I simply love how works Gary Moore in duel with Don Airey, fabulous, and this bond will be even much more explored on the next two albums. So, easy 4 stars, excellent , all 3 albums are recomended, Colosseum II is no less captivating and inventive then any other band from their field like Brand X, Édition Spéciale more well known.
Review by richardh
2 stars This band was the brain child of drummer Jon Hiseman and guitarist Gary Moore who were keen to work together. In order to get the band off the ground the record company insisted that they call themselves 'Colosseum' but in reality this has nothing to do with that original band that made the vitally important Valentyne Suite album.

I recently acquired the 2 disc remaster which includes two different line ups. The first line up for the original album included a specialist vocalist Mike Starrs and bassist Neil Murray as well as keys man Don Airey. The vocalist may have been another concession to the record company to try and make the music accessible to the wider audience.The title track is by far the best track on the album and probably my favourite Colosseum II track. Talk about hitting the ground running. Jazz rock doesn't get any matter After that the playing is still of a very high standard but with vocals. And there lies the problem for me. I simply don' t like the vocals at all. Nothing wrong technically but I just find them irritating a bit overly done and in the way. Who is this Mike Starrs anyway? I would give the album 2 stars.

The Colosseum II I know and love is represented on disc two which is all demos and early versions of new material. Vocal duties when required are done by Moore. There is also a change in bass player. Now this is significant because if they had kept Neil Murray, then along with Hiseman, Moore and Airey CII would have been a bona fide 'supergroup' to match any of the great seventies line ups. Murray's replacement is John Mole who turned out to be a very good player but nevertheless you do think , who??! As for the music the working versions of Intergalactic Strut and The Scorch are not a patch on the final versions that appeared on Electric Savage. Its interesting though to hear Gary Moore singing a lot more on the other tracks that are represented on the bonus disc but still it doesn't add to to a whole hill of beans. They recorded the next album Electric Savage straight off the back of touring to retain the energy , something lacking on the demos.

Overall this is one for the fans with much better to come.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Colosseum II's formation was announced at the fall of 1974 by ex-Colosseum's drummer Jon Hiseman after the demise of his former group Tempest.The main goal was to come up with a revamped version of Colosseum, intention of Hiseman was to bring over his Colosseum bandmate/bassist Mark Clarke, but only guitarist Gary Moore was an official member as of early 75', while attempts to be joined by ex-Bell + Arc's singer Graham Bell and keyboardist Duncan Mackay were also unsuccesful.By the 75' summer the line-up was eventually completed with Don Airey on keyboards, Neil Murray on bass, previously with Gilgamesh, and Mike Starrs on vocals.Their first album ''Strange new flesh'', recorded during the winter of 75'/76', was eventually released on Bronze Records in 1976.

This was a true supergroup not only on paper, as the music on this debut is really stunning, emotional, virtuosic and intricate in all its aspects.It surely kind of reminds of GREENSLADE at moments with all these influences coming from Jazz, Classical, Blues and Pop Music, but Colloseum II had definitely a more jazzy flavor as a whole plus Airey's keyboard work heavily relies on synthesizers (although some fantastic performances on clavinet and organ are still in the menu) and a revamped version of Colloseum was definitely a succesful description.The result was a captivating, jazzy Progressive Rock, starting from the flawless interplays of ''Dark side of the Moog'' and never cooling off until the very end with Moore offering his technical guitar playing next to the consistent rhythm section and Airey delivering series of monumental keyboard pyrotechnics.The album consists of four long tracks and two shorter pieces, the later being a mix of a more vocal-driven Rock with progressive flourishes in the keyboard parts.The longer ones though are absolutely fascinating Prog Fusion with solid soling, succesful breaks, numerous tempo changes and a touch of accesibility in the vocal moments.Strong jazzy vibes, bluesy guitar moves and dominant symphonic keyboards combine in an awesome way to offer marvelous, solid Progressive Rock with the foot constantly on the gas pedal.

Be informed that lots of reissues do exist with plenty of material coming from unreleased demos and sessions of the band.This is definitely a winner, an impressive combination of diverse influences, connected and executed in a professional way.Highly recommended to all lovers of adventuruous music.

Latest members reviews

3 stars The debut album by Colosseum II is crispy but remains a mixed bag of tastes and quality. The main downweight towards mediocrity is the hard-rock/rock vocal and some lightweight melodies that do not fare well with the band's instrumental abilities and potential. Also, this record is closer to pro ... (read more)

Report this review (#2525232) | Posted by sgtpepper | Tuesday, March 16, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have been a big fan of Gary Moore since my teenage years, where he was in his 80-90's rock and blues period. As I realized that he was more than just a blues guitarist (I could feel richer musical influence in his works, at least flamenco and jazz), I started to dig deeper in particular his w ... (read more)

Report this review (#2521620) | Posted by Mark-P | Saturday, March 6, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is part of a really cool vein of music that includes a group called Tempest (with Allan Holdsworth and Ollie Halsall on guitars) and, of course an earlier incarnation of a few members of this band, which was simply called Colosseum. The great liner notes that come with this cd are filled with a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2439608) | Posted by Squire Jaco | Thursday, August 20, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The extra tracks on this reissue really make a difference because their simply great , especially the early raw bombastic version of "Interplanetary Slut" which was a track off the second album Electric Savage . The Electric Savage version is slicker and faster but Jon Hiseman's drumming is so ... (read more)

Report this review (#72603) | Posted by B360Lightning | Thursday, March 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A great debut, however, not the best the band would offer. This lineup featured vocalist Mike Starrs (future Lucifer's Friend) and bassist Neil Murray (future Whitesnake/Black Sabbath), and while both are gifted players I found their departure to be a blessing (Starrs didn't quite mesh as well ... (read more)

Report this review (#65741) | Posted by Toka | Friday, January 20, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Gary Moore aaarrgghhh!?? No no not at all,The good Mr.Moore actually plays some superb fusion/jazzrock/prog guitar here! Along with the other gentlemen of the UK oldschool of rock / prog.: Hiseman,Airey,Murray...this, the first of 3 records, is a promise of what was to come ("Electric savage" & " ... (read more)

Report this review (#26334) | Posted by Tonny Larz | Thursday, January 8, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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