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Colosseum II

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Colosseum II Electric Savage album cover
3.65 | 121 ratings | 15 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Put It This Way (4:54)
2. All Skin and Bone (3:49)
3. Rivers (5:48)
4. The Scorch (6:02)
5. Lament (4:38)
6. Desperado (5:58)
7. Am I (4:15)
8. Intergalactic Strut (6:00)

Total Time 41:24

Line-up / Musicians

- Gary Moore / guitars, vocals (3)
- Don Airey / Fender Rhodes, Steinway grand piano, ARP Odyssey, ARP Solina, Minimoog, Hammond organ, clavinet
- John Mole / bass
- Jon Hiseman / drums, tubular bells, Latin percussion, gong, producer

Releases information

Artwork: John Pasche with Phil Jude (photo)

LP MCA Records ‎- MCF 2800 (1977, UK)

CD MCA Records ‎- 18P2-2756 (1989, Japan)
CD One Way Records ‎- MCAD-22081 (1993, US)
CD Geffen Records ‎- UICY-93051 (2006, Japan) 24-bit remaster by Hitoshi Takiguchi

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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COLOSSEUM II Electric Savage ratings distribution

(121 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

COLOSSEUM II Electric Savage reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Two small changes in Colosseum II's second album: Neil Murray left the group to join National Health (I believe), replaced by unknown John Mole, and most important the group became an almost-instrumental beast, which for their kind of music fit them best. If I say Almost-instrumental, it's because Gary Moore sings on one track, sounding a bit like Steve Winwood, but let's face it, Colosseum II doesn't need a singer!! Coming with a bizarre electronic tribal neon artwork, Electric Savage heads further into RTF and Brand X fusion than ever before. If most of the music is still penned by Gary Moore, there is a tendency towards more democracy as Airey pens two himself, while Hiseman co-writes four.

Opening on Hackett-ian (solo) guitar lines, Put It This Way dives head first hard fusion filled with power riffs, Brand X-style. All Skin & Bone is a fantastic percussive track that uses the same Hackett-ian guitar and probably the album's highlight. Rivers is the only sung track of the album, and as mentioned above, it sounds like a Steve Winwood solo track. The group also had a more progressive slant and here The Scorch is the prime example of it, where the group moves through a series of rhythm pattern and moods, but mostly doing so in a fury, as would indicate the title. Very classical exit of this track and a brilliant quartet, especially Hiseman.

The flipside starts on the cheesy Lament, but it's not an over-ripe camembert, either, just a slightly pompous facet of their prog moods, a bit the logical continuation of Scorch. Next up, Desperado returns to the 100 MPH fusion of Brand X that we'd visited in the album opener. The album closes on two Airey compositions, the first is a great crescendoing airy (pun intended) track, where Don & Gary exchange wild leads on a mid-tempo and background synth layers, while its alter ego Intergalactic Strut shines among a thousand galaxy, hinting at RTF's seventh. If I say shine, there is a slight eclipse with

While it was not so obvious on SNF, Moore has more problems being himself on such a blatant jazz rock album, than he does on a blues or hard rock album, and here , he's more credible when either crunching riffs away or pulling blues wails from his axe, than really adding a jazzy blue note. When he does try, he seems either taken by Hackett or goes purelt classical. Incidentally, I was never a fan of Airey's keyboard style (especially when playing in the Purpe galaxy), but for some reasons, in Col II, he was never more credible than here, and if some synth choices of his are questionable, but it's got to do more with the era's choice of arms, more than artistic choices. Outside a few loonies (like Mooney), Hiseman's drumming is still miles ahead of many of his English peers (Bruford, Collins & Dunbar excepted) and he mixes himself a tad higher in the group's overall sound, but it's nothing shocking, on the contrary.. It even enhances his insane playing. Either this album or the following carbon-copy Wardance will be the perfect intro, but you're wary of redundancy in your shelves, you'll have to check whether you would need more than one

Review by richardh
3 stars This was an instrumental rock 'supergroup' that had very little to do with the original Colosseum.Although both bands were formed by the brilliant drummer Jon Hiseman, instead of Greenslade and co we have the 'heavier' talents of Gary Moore (guitar) and Don Airey (keyboards) in tow.The result is power packed rock that at times is sublime.The best tracks are 'The Scorch' and 'Intergalctic Strut' which are as good as any intstrumental prog released in the seventies.Unforunately there are some weaker tracks like 'Lament' and the dreadful 'Rivers' which drags it down somewhat.If ever a band needed a compilation then this is it.The record company should put the best tracks from their 3 albums onto one decent album and have done with it.But until that happens you will have to search the bargain bins for this if you want to hear 'Intergalctic Strut' (and you will believe me!)
Review by Tony R
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars I first came across Colosseum II in the late 70's after seeing them on "Sight&Sound In Concert" on the BBC. I was blown away by the incredible musicianship and in particular the guitar virtuosity of Gary Moore,who I'd known previously through his on-off relationship with Thin Lizzy.

This is the second of three Colosseum II albums and though not as satisfying as the later "Wardance" is far better than the first album "Strange New Flesh" which I would only recommend to CII completionists.

This is high-powered Jazz Rock with the accent on ROCK ! A great feature of the album is the keyboard/guitar "jousting" between Airey and Moore particularly on "The Scorch" and "Desperado".The musicianship is outstanding with John Mole ably keeping it all together with his smooth Fender Jazz Bass and the drum maestro Hiseman just going for it on every track-check out his showcase "All Skin and Bone" if you need proof of his talents.

However it is ultimately Gary Moore who gets the MVP award.His speed and accuracy are incredible and whilst Lament and Intergalctic Strut showcase his Guitar God credentials,tracks like "Put It This Way" and" Desperarado" display his all-round talents.

This is a very good album,especially if you ignore the only vocals track,"Rivers".Colosseum II would ultimately hit the pinnacle with "Wardance" then disband under the pressure of touring as the Lloyd-Webbers "Variations" backing band.

Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars In fact this is a supergroup featuring Gary Moore on guitar, Don Airey on keyboards and Jon Hiseman on drums along John Mole on bass. Apart from the smooth and polished track "Rivers" (fortunately the only vocal performance!) this CD is a very captivating and alternating blend of blues, jazz, symphonic and classic delivering a very dynamic and adventurous rhythm-section, many exciting soli on guitar and keyboards and splendid interplay between the 'vintage' sound (Minimoog, Hammond, string-ensemble, clavinet, Fender Rhodes piano) from Don Airey (at this moment a Deep Purple member) and the harder-edged guitar runs from Gary Moore. EXCELLENT!!
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Electric Savage had received little attention for me personally by the time it was released for relatively simplistic reason: it has no vocalist and not really rock. It's totally wrong assumption as I finally found that prog does not necessarily mean having vocals. I only enjoyed this album in great details about four years later when I first identified that the musicians involved in this album were really talented. In fact after I knew and could fully enjoy this album, I chased the albums where the musicians involved in this band at their future activities. This included Don Airey whom later visited my country to performed a live concert with Deep Purple replacing Jon Lord - three or four years ago, I guess.

The opening track "Put it This Way" (4:54) has no compelling name but the music demonstrates the kind of caliber the musicians involved in the band. Gary Moore whom I knew more in the arena of rock and blues, unexpectedly plays pivotal part in the whole composition of this track as well as the whole album. "All Skin and Bone" (3:49) starts ambient with the exploration of gong - I guess it's played by Jon Hiseman. The music features guitar solo with relatively steady rhythm section but with energetic and inventive drumwork by Hiseman. Really cool!

"Desperado" (5:58) delivers a music which blend fast speed jazz-rock fusion and abrupt music styles featuring great soloist: stunning electric guitar solo by Gary Moore and rapid fire finger punching keyboard by Don Airey. You can observe the virtuosity of drummer Jon Hiseman as well through this track. His work is not just augmenting the music flow and keeping the beats but it also includes giving the rich texture of the music. Definitely Desperado is one of the best tracks in progressive music vein! "Am I" (4:15) provides some sort of musical break from high speed music because the track starts with a slow tempo music featuring simple keyboard and guitar. The guitar enters the scene and brings the music into higher notes in a bit bluesy style. The electric guitar solo is really stunning - augmented with chopping chords of keyboard with jazzy rhythm style.

"Intergalactic Strut" (6:00) starts wonderfully with dazzling work by Hiseman on his drum set. It's an energetic opening because his style is truly dynamic and energetic. When the full music containing guitar, keyboard and bass enter the music, this song offers relatively fast tempo jazz rock fusion stuff with interlude part featuring guitar solo in medium tempo. But the music then turns out to be complex and speedy when the keyboard takes role as soloist in fast tempo style. It's a great tempo changes that combine diverse styles. It's one of my favorite Colosseum tracks.

If you love jazz rock fusion music, this album is highly recommended! You will find the virtuosities of musicians involved as well as energetic music with excellent composition. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I'm afraid I absolutely love everything about this record; Don Airey on searing keys, John Mole thundering on his Fender jazz bass, Gary Moore giving his best performance on record, and Jon Hiseman reclaiming his jazz-rock god status as he leads it all with measured fury. Mostly instrumental and filled with tight, red-hot numbers, this has to be among the best live-in-studio albums in fusion history. But it was much more-- it was also heavy prog at a time when most music was either heavy or progressive, with little serious blending of the two. Colosseum II brought the aggression of metallic rock together with the precision of symphonic jazz fusion in a way no one else could touch, not even Mahavishnu, and the result is one of the most electrifying sessions I've ever heard. Absolute dynamite.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars All skins and Moore

"Electric savage" was the second album to be released under the name Colosseum II. Now down to a quartet after the departure of vocalist Mike Starrs the band effectively became an instrumental jazz fusion unit, although Gary Moore's credits here do include vocals. The album was recorded in seven days on a live basis.

As with their debut album this is unusual territory for Moore who is better known for, and apparently more comfortable in, heavy rock and blues. That aside though he is the dominant instrumentalist here, keyboard player Don Airey's role being primarily to enhance the overall sound.

The first two tracks, "Put it this way" and "All skin and bone" are good but rather anonymous fusion workouts, in a Brand X sort of way. They find Moore in good form on guitar, while never really offering anything particularly notable.

"The river" is very much a Garry Moore song, his fine vocals giving lie to the notion that this is a completely instrumental album. The song is in the vein of his wonderful ballads such as "Empty rooms" and "Still got the blues" although perversely it lacks his unique guitar sound which characterised those tracks. Airey finally takes lead role for "The scorch", a fine "Abadon's bolero" like synth workout.

"Lament" is closer to Moore's blues influences, his guitar echoing the sound of bagpipes on this fine, reflective piece. "Desperado" returns to the improvisation of the first two tracks, there being not a hint of anything remotely wild west though! Moore's guitar work is the dominant force again on the slower "Am I" which moves back towards his blues comfort zone. The album closes with "Intergalactic strut", where the band effectively race for the finishing line at breakneck speed. The playing is technically magnificent but from an entertainment perspective it leaves me rather cold.

As with most drummers who leads the band, Hiseman feels the need to place his drums well forward in the mixes, and to embellish them well beyond what is actually required. Those for whom the drums are the main focus when listening to music will undoubtedly appreciate what they hear, but for me such a style is too intrusive.

It is perhaps obvious from the slant of my review that I much prefer Gary Moore when he is delivering the blues, or one of his thunderous rock performances. Consequently, this album is a mixed bag for me. Some of the fusion workouts leave me cold, but these are adequately compensated for by the melodic highs of the rock orientated numbers.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars I have mixed feelings when it comes to the three Colosseum II albums. While all three of them have great moments, none of them are consistently great. There are some moments on all of them that make your jaw drop, but there are also many moments when you just feel that it is more of the same. Or to put it differently, most individual tracks are very good when judged on their own merits, but a whole album full of them becomes rather tedious. Every time I play these albums I am always quite impressed when the first couple of tracks are playing and say to myself "why have I underestimated these albums before", but after a couple of more tracks I change my mind towards them being rather bland.

The first album, Strange New Flesh was more varied with several vocal numbers so that deserves more credit on that account. But deciding between Electric Savage and War Dance is impossible for me, they are both very similar and none of them stand above the other. If you like one of them you will like the other. The only conclusion to draw is that it will be two stars for the both of them. Maybe if they had put the very best material from these two albums on one album, they could have made a very good one? After all they were both made the same year. I'm not sure, but as they stand they don't quite reach up to the three star rating.

But don't let my low rating deter you from getting this if you like high quality typical Jazz-Rock with amazing musicianship. These albums are not bad at all, just unoriginal and somewhat bland, albeit with some great passages.

I realize how utterly unoriginal it is to post basically the same review for two different albums, but I really feel that this is just what these albums deserve given that they are so similar in style.

I can recommend these albums only if Jazz-Rock/Fusion is your favourite genre and/or you are a dedicated follower of Hiseman, Moore and/or Airey. Personally I think that these musicians are great, but they have made far better music elsewhere.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Colosseum II is one of my hidden gem bands, a rock supergroup that had a strong edge yet maintained a highly original style that resonates still today. Firstly, it must be stated that Jon Hiseman is a drumming legend, a technically adventurous stickman, comfortable in a multitude of genres, including the novel concept of hard rock played with utter skill (often not really the case). Irishman Gary Moore is a celebrated fret man, immensely popular in Europe especially in Poland and Hungary, who can blitz with the best anywhere including all the usual suspects. His career with Thin Lizzy, Greg Lake, BBM (with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker) has evolved to a distinguished solo life as well. Keyboardist Don Airey has played with Rainbow, Sabbath, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Jethro Tull and Judas Priest, an ivory man that has a long history and bassist John Mole is the new, unknown guy. Well this recording will not disappoint, from the frivolous rock-funk of "Put It This Way" intro to the celestial "Intergalactic Strut" finale. Rarely has an album title been so accurate, the music is electric and savage. Moore delivers a senseless barrage of glistening solos and Hiseman positively thrives on keeping some impossible beat, England's version of Billy Cobham at playful work. The tracks are relatively short (so is the album) but concise and deadly, even when ponderous and misty, as on the delightful "All Skin and Bone", rifling drums shouldering the blame as Moore wraps some stringent bluesy phrasings over the rhythmic skeleton. Mole keeps things down to earth (with a name like that, you would think!) and Airey decorates nicely. The vocally vivacious "Rivers" has a flowing euphoria that has immense appeal, Moore singing his heart out and taking out the pain on his axe with slippery skill but somewhat out of place with the next tracks. With a title like "The Scorch" what else would you/could you expect, as Don's breezy synthesizers open the floodgates, almost Emersonian in scope until the other 3 players enter the fray with utter conviction, lead guitar and solo synth paralleling some unseen path. Mole rumbles along in complete agreement with Hiseman's rolling toms and splashy cymbal work. Darn good music, this! "Lament" is a traditional piece arranged by the band and it succeeds immensely, tubular bells and all in vehiculating a pure emotion, in all the splendor of modern electronics with a super guitar solo for the ages. Darn good this too !"Desperado" is not the Eagles remake thankfully but actually closer to Brand X or Mahavishnu Orchestra in its insane lightning fast groove, a feat only a drummer like Jon can pull off convincingly. (I distinctively remember a poll back in France (Rock'n Folk magazine) in the 70s and Hiseman was voted numero uno with Magma's Christian Vander as runner-up). This ridiculous ditty is fast, furious and fatal, as Moore continues to sizzle and rage. Darn good three! "Am I" has Airey ruling the keys again, a proggy diversion that has instant respect as Mole's bass scours defiantly, Moore ripping off his finest solo ever, dripping with painful emotion and exasperated despair. The hyper turbo-charged "Intergalactic Strut" is as its name implies a mammoth excursion into the farthest points of the prog spectrum, a heart- stopping pace where harsh rhythms and searing soloing exchange blasphemous backhanded volleys. Moore again really rips into his instrument aggressively with little respect for any collateral damage, furiously adhered to by the other three musicians who all positively sizzle here. Bloody ridiculous, actually! A tremendous accomplishment that I need to revisit more often.

I forgot how good this record was, blinded by their stunning debut "Strange New Flesh" and so , both albums are winners for any prog head who craves the beauty of creative exploration. 4 Belfast blasts

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I really like Colosseum, but Colosseum II is a different band. Even if founded by the same great drummer Jon Hiseman, even from this album's line -up you can easily feel what to expect from this release. And you will hardly make mistake in your expectation - this album is instrumental rock with some jazzy traces on the second plan.

Two musicians are real heroes there - guitarist Gary Moore and keyboard player Don Airey. Never before (in Thin Lizzy) or after (in his blues-rock or pop-rock works) Gary Moore's guitar sounded such fast and technical! Airey's organ passages are great as well, but really they two are great team for playing something like Deep Purple/Whitesnake/Rainbow music! To be honest, on this Colosseum album they are really much more jazz-rockíng than you can expect. But the problem is they are not jazz fusion musicians at all!

And as a result all the album sounds as instrumental symphonic prog album with some rare jazzy elements. And good symphonic prog album! But the problem (at least for me) is I don't expect symphonic prog from Colosseum, there are much better band playing this music. And I can't hear there enough fusion on this album as well.

Not bad album, but for very different listener, than Colosseum fans were before Colosseum II happened.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Some time after COLOSSEUM broke up in 1971 drummer Jon Hiseman decided to resurrect the band under the name of COLOSSEUM II with all new members. There are three guys in this band who put on amazing performances during this album which was recorded live in studio by the way. First is drummer Jon Hiseman who is all over this album and he is a pleasure to listen to. Gary Moore the well known Blues guitarist from Ireland sounds better than i've ever heard him. He lights it up constantly but in a Fusiony style as opposed to his usual Bluesy way. And Don Airey on keys and synths is incredible. Actually during the song "Desperado" a guy came into the store while this was playing and asked me if I was listening to ELP. Thankyou so much to Tszirmay for recommending this album.

"Put It This Way" opens with quite the drum / guitar display, in fact this continues throughout.The guitar is ripping it up 2 1/2 minutes in. Great sound before 4 minutes as well. "All Skin And Bone" opens with some atmosphere then it kicks in before a minute. Some nice guitar solos come and go and the drumming is fantastic throughout.

"Rivers" is the only vocal track and it's provided by Gary Moore. Not a bad track and I like the second half of it better. "The Scorch" is synth led early and the sound becomes more intense before 2 minutes. It's more powerful before 3 1/2 minutes and we get some nice bass 4 minutes in. "Lament" becomes fuller with guitar 1 1/2 minutes in.

"Desperado" is an uptempo track although it does settle some just before a minute as contrasts continue. Some amazing keyboard work from Airey and he trades off with Moore later on. "Am I" is a relaxed tune as guitar comes in after a minute with some good prominant bass.Good song. "Intergalactic Strut" opens with fast paced and intricate drumming then the whole band joins in. Excellent keyboard and guitar work here. It settles with electric piano before 2 minutes. Great section as the guitar joins in with synths and bass. It picks back up a minute later. Nice.

BRAND X would be the band I think these guys most bring to mind. An excellent album.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Electric savage issued in 1977 is my fav Colosseum II album, here we have everything, from fast pomping passages to more mellow parts, the sound and manner of composing here is more refined then on their debute, the musicianship is tight, great ideas and top notch pieces. The interplay between guitar and organ (keyboards) and drums I must say is absolutly killer and inventive. There are some passages that truly shine no less, like on opening Put it this way, what to say really , impressive playing from each msucian, Gary Moore in duel with master Don Airey, somemthing not to be missed by any prog/jazz rock lover. Another two highlights for me are The Scorch and ending track Intergalactic strut, again marvelous as always. So, I think that this might be regarded as their best, at least from my side together with their next and final one War dance. Recommended, anyone intrested into this kind of music will not be disippointed a second , Electric savage kick as all the way, even the cover art is great.4.5 stars

Latest members reviews

4 stars This is the second release of Colosseum II with new line up. All tracks except one, are instrumental, with stronger and more energetic jazz-rock feel. I like the rhythm section (both bass and drum) better than the first album (by their first line up). The sound of each of the instruments are so ... (read more)

Report this review (#2584213) | Posted by Mark-P | Saturday, August 7, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Sticking to instruments proved to be a great decision in increasing consistency and music quality of their albums. All three lead players are chameleons, well versed in rock and rock-related fashions like jazz-rock and fusion. To my joy, playing is dynamic, intensive while remaining accessibl ... (read more)

Report this review (#2525279) | Posted by sgtpepper | Tuesday, March 16, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Simply brilliant fusion/prog on display here...musicianship of the highest caliber without question. Only stumble is the 3rd track, "Rivers", which features cringe- worthy vocals from Gary Moore. Thankfully this doesn't torpedo the record, as "The Scorch" makes you forget about it real quick. S ... (read more)

Report this review (#65734) | Posted by Toka | Friday, January 20, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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