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COLOSSEUM

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United Kingdom


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Colosseum biography
Founded in 1968 - Disbanded in 1971 - Reunited from 1994 up to 2015

This is one of the pivotal progressive bands that emerged in the second part of the Sixties. Unfortunalety the progressive world was more impressed by The NICE and KING CRIMSON, so in my opinion COLOSSEUM is a bit understimated progrock band. In '68 the founding members were drummer Jon Hiseman, tenor sax-player Dick Heckstall-Smith and bass player Tony Reeves, later joined by Dave Greenslade (keyboards), Dave Clempson (guitar), Chris Farlowe (vocals) and Mark Clark, he replaced Tony Reeves. COLOSSEUM made three studio albums: "Those Who Are To Die We Salute You" and "Valentyne Suite" (both from '69) and "Daughter Of Time" ('70). The music is a progressive mix of several styles (rock, jazz, blues) with lots of sensational solos and captivating interplay. In '71 the band released their highly acclaimed live album "Colosseum live", a proove of their great skills on stage but also showing that at some moments the compositions sounded a bit too stretched.

After COLOSSEUM was disbanded in '71, most of these members formed or joined known groups like HUMBLE PIE (Clem Clempson), ATOMIC ROOSTER (Chris Farlowe), GREENSLADE (Dave Greenslade re-united with Tony Reeves) and COLOSSEUM II (founded by Jon Hiseman). In '91 the label Castle Communications released the comprehensive compilation CD entitled "The Time Machine".

The second album "The Valentyne Suite" is considired as their best. It sounds mature and varied with the epic titletrack as the highlight: it's build up around a mindblowing solo on the Hammond organ by Dave Greenslade and great guitarwork by James Litherland. And if you like brass (I don't!), Dick Heckstall-Smith delivers stunning tenor-saxophone work.

: : : Erik Neuteboom, The NETHERLANDS : : :
Fan & official Prog Archives collaborator

COLOSSEUM Videos (YouTube and more)


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Grass Is GreenerGrass Is Greener
Remastered
Talking Elephant 2011
$20.21
Valentyne SuiteValentyne Suite
Remastered
Esoteric 2017
$12.66
$24.93 (used)
Colosseum Live: 2Cd Remastered & Expanded Edition /  ColosseumColosseum Live: 2Cd Remastered & Expanded Edition / Colosseum
Remastered
ESOTERIC 2018
$15.65
$19.63 (used)
Valentyne SuiteValentyne Suite
Music on Vinyl 2016
$21.75
$24.30 (used)
Daughter Of Time: Remastered & Expanded Edition /  ColosseumDaughter Of Time: Remastered & Expanded Edition / Colosseum
Remastered
ESOTERIC 2018
$11.01
$14.38 (used)
On The RadioOn The Radio
Voice Print 2018
$8.37
$8.36 (used)
Live05Live05
Ruf 2010
$12.93
$11.58 (used)
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COLOSSEUM discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

COLOSSEUM top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.63 | 133 ratings
Those Who Are About To Die Salute You
1969
4.21 | 369 ratings
Valentyne Suite
1969
3.71 | 92 ratings
The Grass Is Greener
1970
3.67 | 150 ratings
Daughter Of Time
1970
3.11 | 38 ratings
Bread & Circuses
1997
2.76 | 32 ratings
Tomorrow's Blues
2003
3.47 | 36 ratings
Time On Our Side
2014

COLOSSEUM Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.20 | 118 ratings
Colosseum Live
1971
4.08 | 33 ratings
LiveS - The reunion concerts 1994
1995
4.39 | 20 ratings
Live 05
2007
4.27 | 11 ratings
Theme For A Reunion
2009

COLOSSEUM Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.26 | 18 ratings
Colosseum Lives (DVD)
1997
4.92 | 10 ratings
Reunion Concert Cologne 1994
2008

COLOSSEUM Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 5 ratings
The Collectors Colosseum
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
Pop Chronik
1972
5.00 | 1 ratings
Those Who Are About To Die Salute You / Valentyne Suite
1990
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Time Machine: Collection
1992
4.08 | 5 ratings
The HTD Anthology
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
An Introduction To
2004
4.00 | 1 ratings
Epitaph
2006
4.86 | 5 ratings
Morituri Te Salutant: 1968-2003 On Stage & In The Studio (4CD)
2009

COLOSSEUM Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 2 ratings
Walking In The Park
1969
2.50 | 2 ratings
The Kettle
2001

COLOSSEUM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Valentyne Suite by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.21 | 369 ratings

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Valentyne Suite
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The second release of Colosseum has entered the history of progressive rock for the suite of the second side, written in large part by the keyboardist Greenslade.

On the first side we listen to four songs that, to tell the truth, are not very different from those of the previous album, apart from the first one, "The Kettle" (7,5/8), written by Heckstall-Smith and Hiseman, whose beginning is marked by a decidedly heavy guitar (Litherland), which also distinguishes the rest of the piece. Here the group tries a fusion between blues, jazz and hard-rock. The shorter "Elegy" (three minutes, 7+) and the subsequent "Butty's Blues" are both written by Litherland, which is new respect the first record. "Elegy" has a nice rhythm and a good saxophone solo, but overall it's a minor piece, a filler. "Butty's Blues" is much more consistent, in which Litherland's singing dialogues with the group's fiatistic jazz, which in some points reaches daring dissonances. The ending has a very pompous orchestral crescendo but which ends in fading (vote 7,5/8). "The Machine Demands A Sacrifice" (written by Litherland, Brown, Smith and Hiseman, vote 7) after a great start, suddenly vanishes, but then continue with a long unconvincing instrumental tail. Vote side A: 7,5/8. On balance, the first side of the debut album is better than this.

Second Side. Here's to you the famous "The Valentyne's Suite" (almost 17 minutes, vote 8,5 / 9). "Theme One: January's Search" (6:25) is very good, with continuous changes of rhythm and atmosphere. The second piece, "Theme Two: February's Valentyne" (3:33), shorter and quieter, is a reworking preparation for the third movement, "Theme Three: The Grass Is Always Greener" (6:55) where the rhythm gradually grows, the main melody is resumed, and finally we arrive at the paroxysmal climax obtained through an unstoppable progression of the guitar (Litherland) supported by a wild section rhythmic (Hiseman and Reeves). It all ends, after a pause, with the resumption of the initial melody again. Masterpiece.

Great album of fusion. Blues-jazz-rock with an instrumental suite of 17 minutes. Proto-progressive. After the first classical songs of Procol Harmu and Nice, after the first psychedelic albums of Pink Floyd and Family (1967-69), in 1969 King Crimson baptized the progressive-rock with their debut, and Colosseum contribute, sideways, in the field of jazz-rock, to put the suite (instrumental, in this case) as the standard of the new progressive music. The historical significance of this album is unquestionable, as is the beauty of the suite, which certainly is seminal for the other groups that will compete with a suite (the choruses of the second movement of "Valentyne's Suite" will be evoked in the "Atom Heart Mother" suite, a year later), up to 20 minutes. The album does not have a first side at the height of the second (not even close) and this is the reason why I do not include it in the category of 5 stars. But maybe I'm wrong.

First side, vote: 7,5/8. Second side, vote 8,5/9. Vote album: 8,5. Rating: Four Stars.

 Those Who Are About To Die Salute You by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.63 | 133 ratings

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Those Who Are About To Die Salute You
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "Ave, Caesar, morituri te salutant" according to tradition is the phrase that the gladiators pronounced to Caesar, the Roman emperor, in the Circus Maximus, before fighting until the last blood (we read that phrase also in various books of Asterix, which appeared the first time in the late sixties, authors: Goscinny and Uderzo). Colosseum have made it the title of their first album, 1969, able to merge fiatistic jazz, swing, psychedelic blues guitar and classical music passages.

The first song, "Walking in The Park" (written by Graham Bond), is a very fast-paced song (drums and horns, including the trumpet played by Henry Lowther) that shows off Litherland's bleak, bluesy singing, and his mighty guitar, also bluesy (the guitar of Gary Green will have a similar sound, in the first records of Gentle Giant). The track is really sustained: a start with a bang. Vote 7.5.

"Plenty Hard Luck" (written by the whole group, vote 7,5/8) features a long jazz solo: before keyboards, then saxophone, and in the background you can hear the great work of the rhythm section. They are songs that you can't listen in a relaxed way because they bombard you with sound stimuli on a very stratified plan.

"Mandarin", with his wonderful instrumental beginning with a bass solo (Tony Reeves, author with Greenslade), it shows us what the band is: an ensemble of virtuosos who play their instrument as if they were soloists, because each one follows his own trajectory; and in this song they follow dissonant sounds that lick hard rock (vote 8). "Debut" (six and a half minutes, written by the whole group, except Litherland, whose guitar actually remains in the background) has another fiatistic instrumental beginning and then we can hear a saxophone solo to the rhythm of a bolero (an unleashed Hiseman). It is a music that leaves you without rest. The saxophone climbs along high pitched tones as the rhythm grows and the sound becomes increasingly saturated, then it is cleared with Greenslade's keyboards. The Colosseum tests for Valentyne Suite. Vote 7,5/8.

Side B opens with "Beware The Ides Of March", in theme with the album title; it has a classical theme ("Toccata and Fugue in D minor" by Johann Sebastian Bach), played beautifully by Dick Heckstall-Smith, but the skill of the group is manifested when the classical melody is drawn from the piano (which sounds like a harpsichord!) and then when enter the drums and the bluesy guitar of Litherland, which transform the melody in a fantastic psychedelic jam. It is the masterpiece of the album. Vote 8,5. Follows the shorter "The Road She Walked Before", where finally come back the voice of Litherland. Jazzy piano solo and... nothing else. Filler (vote 6,5).

"Backwater Blues" is a cover of a famous jazz song. Here we can listen to the performance of Litherland, on vocals and guitar, then to a tenor saxophone solo by Heckstall-Smith. Vote 7,5.

The last song, "Those About To Die" is another instrumental piece (third piece written by the whole group except Litherland), arranged in a fiatistic jazz way, with sax solo (but even with a keyboard solo, and bass solo on the background). The best parts are those where the rhythm subsides, and there are melodic breaks. Vote 7,5/8.

The debut of the Colosseum is a remarkable record, able to make an unprecedented synthesis between fiatistic jazz, blues, and psychedelic and hard rock passages. The virtuosity of the musicians (in particular Hiseman and Heckstall-Smith: Greenslade will give his best in Valentyne Suite) adds pleasure to listening.

Medium quality of the songs: 7,66 Vote album: 8+. Rating: Four Stars.

 Daughter Of Time by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.67 | 150 ratings

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Daughter Of Time
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars I have been a fan of Colosseum for quite a few years now and have relished in the musical textures of their first two albums. I have especially come to love "Valentyne suite" but shied away from this one, "Daughter of time". Why that is I cannot account for. The bellow of Farlowe, perhaps? Anyway, I have since come to embrace this album wholeheartedly.

Progressive rock with a strong jazz and blues bottom, that is Colosseum in a nutshell. I Think that nowhere is this brew more evident than on "Daughter of time". In part "Valentyne suite" is their magnum opus, in no small part due to it's title trackclocking in at 17 minutes, but as a whole I feel that "Dauthter of time" is a much more focused and matured product. Sur, there is plenty of blues to go around but the edges have been rounded off and made slightly less evident, leaving the British blues boom behind, in a manner of speaking.

I have listened to Chris Farlowe's album "From here to Mama Rosa" (co-credited to The Hill) that came out in 1969. It is interesting to hear Farlowe's delicate steps towards all out jazz-rock on that album, especially in hindsight since the album sees him take such a massive step towards the really dense and heavy progressive rock on "Daughter of time".

And where to begin my superlative belch about to break free? Well, in short there is only one thing to say and that is that the first seven tracks out of eight are top class jazz-rock-prog. It doesn't get any better than this. The flow of jazz over a heavy rock bottom, wrapped up in a progressive vision of interstellar magnitude is simply breathtaking. (What the hell does that mean?)

"Three scores and ten" opens up with a dramatic Choir and heavy rhythm before going off into a different beat, slowing down again in the chorus. Then there's a very special section at 3.50 with a spoken piece. Magic! "TIme lament" is a ballad-y type of songs with great soaring melody. "Take me back to doomsday" is stunning jazz-rock and the title track is similar in style to the cover of "Theme from an imaginary western", which is totally mindblowingly beautiful. "Bring out your dead" is an instrumental piece showcasing intricate time changes and muscial wizardry. "Downhill and shadows" brings back the blues roots of the band. Great track but less interesting than the other. "The time machine" is more or less a drum solo, so to me that is the least interesting of the tracks and the one that brings down the rating. Though I have to say that it is a marvellous solo, I fail to enthuse me to go through it again.

On the Esoteric edition there are, as always, alot of interesting bonus tracks. Of particular interest to me is "The pirate's Dream" that appears again on Dick Heckstall-Smiths solo album a couple of years later.

Ah, yes. "The bellow of Farlowe". Actually it fits in very well with the music on "Daughter of time". He complements it perfectly and his vocals are powerful and emotive, giving the album an extra dimension. One wonders what hade become of Colosseum had they recorded yet Another album.

To round things up before you nod off, this is a beuatiful, powerful and enthralling piece of progressive jazz-rock that fills my soul with joy, my body with movements resembling an itch to dance. Apart from "Downhill and shadows" (3 stars) and "TIme machine" (2 stars) the tracks on the album are all 5 stars. When I have calculated and reasoned with myself the final rating is four stars. An amazing album full of instrumental magic, astounding vocals and warmth and fullness that is next to none.

 Colosseum Live  by COLOSSEUM album cover Live, 1971
4.20 | 118 ratings

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Colosseum Live
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by ALotOfBottle
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Colosseum created a strange brew of their own, mixing jazz, blues, soul with progressive rock sensibilities in a very European way. After four studio releases, which enjoyed a relative success, the group released a live-cut double album named simply Colosseum Live. It was recorded Manchester University and the Big Apple in Brighton during the band's Daughter Of Time tour.

Colosseum Live portrays an experienced group with incredible amounts of energy and vigour as well as on-stage know-how. Various jokes and modifications of lyrics are just a part of the act. This must have been a great show to be at! Dave Greenslade is at his best here with his unmistakeable jazz organ virtuosity. Dave "Clem" Clempson's screaming guitar rings out beautifully on his heavy blues rock solos, but also fits in well when a rhythm guitar role is needed. Chris Farlowe, only recently having joined the band, is the engine of the group with screaming jazzy vocals and many anecdotes in between songs. Dick Hechstall-Smith, the prominent figure of the English jazz scene adds incredible saxophone parts, sometimes playing two instruments at once, a bit like David Jackson of Van Der Graaf Generator. Jon Hiseman's drumming goes from light bebop parts to almost "proto-metal" gallops. Mark Clarke plays some great grooves as well as providing backing vocals, which are in great harmony with those of Farlowe and Clempson. All in all, Colosseum was made up of outstanding professional musicians.

Although Colosseum Live is a double album, it consists of just six tracks (plus one bonus track). These are always above seven minutes and are characterised by lengthy jams. Despite being largely driven by improvisation, the music has a feeling of being organised. "Tanglewood '63" is a great example of that. Starting with a charming saxophone intro, it turns into a jazzy jam, than introducing vocals and going through many different forms. "Stormy Monday", which is a classic blues number goes far beyond being a blues cliche with tempo changes. "Lost Angeles" is the track you are waiting for the whole album. Sort of based on their "Valentyne Suite", this song has many different sections, all very interesting and rewarding.

To conclude, Colosseum Live is a legendary live album. It could well be described as "Colosseum in a nutshell" with all of the band's most significant characteristics. Obviously, it belongs into every Colosseum fan's collection, but will make a great addition to every prog nut's assortment. A very accessible record and will be a great place to start for new Colosseum listeners. Four stars!

 Valentyne Suite by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.21 | 369 ratings

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Valentyne Suite
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by ALotOfBottle
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

5 stars One of the finest!

Colosseum's sophomore effort pictures well-trained musicians with a lot of musical know-how creating something very mature, steady and inteligent. This was a groundbreaker for 1969. Worth mentioning that what would later be known as progressive rock was still a new style. Colosseum's contemporaries such as The Nice, Procol Harum or Soft Machine put a good perspective to how good this piece of music is. "Valentyne Suite" is a multimovement epic, which blends jazz music with a classical form of music. This is pretty much the highlight and probably the best part of the album. Other songs are also very good, "The Kettle" showcases James Litherland's amazing singing and great guitar playing, but mainly as I said: "Valentyne Suite" is what you listen to this album for.

Great, great music and one of the most important early-prog albums! A must-have for any progressive rock nut!

 The Grass Is Greener by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.71 | 92 ratings

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The Grass Is Greener
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by ExittheLemming
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The Best Restaurant in Rome (If You're a Lion)

This stateside only release from 1970 has come to resemble something of a curio in the Colosseum discography. It was rushed out with rather indecent haste just a few months after the successful Valentyne Suite (presumably under the pretext of James Litherland having being replaced in the interim by Clem Clempson) Anyways, given that it features the new singer and guitarist on alternate versions of previously released numbers, plus some new and old material, it still hangs together surprisingly well as a stand alone document and not some expedient ploy designed to plunge our short arms into deep pockets. Litherland's departure is a mixed blessing for your reviewer as I prefer his guitar work but favour Clempson's lower vocal range. Tensions had been running high in the band for some time prior to Litherland being asked to leave and he cites soloist's egos, over elaborate arrangements, and a dearth of 'in the pocket groove' from drummer Hiseman as all being contributing factors to his estrangement from his colleagues. More pointedly perhaps was him discovering quite by chance that his band mates were being paid considerably more than he was as the singer, guitarist and composer. How ironic therefore that the man they nicknamed 'Butty' (after the Mancunian slang for a sandwich) was toast after claiming he received too little bread (Man)

Jumping Off the Sun - This unique song was written by the rather tragic figure of one Mike Taylor, an incredibly original and talented jazz pianist who ended up drowned in the River Thames at just 30 years old, purportedly under his own hand. It's one of the most unusual and unnerving compositions I've heard in a long while and seems in places almost to defy the trumping gravitational pull of tension and its release we crave for in diatonic music. Even the chorus type 'hook' betrays a maverick agenda by landing on a lacerating discord. There are weird jutting cadences, sly metric jesting and unresolved harmonies at play here that apart from maybe Syd Barrett and Thelonious Monk, have no precedent I can cite.

Lost Angeles - It's fascinating to hear this early run-through of a number that was given its definitive reading on the stirring Live version from '71. Greenslade's murky organ occupies a less prominent role here but his gossamer chiming vibes are captured beautifully and Heckstall-Smith interjects some bluesy strands of noirish sax to cinematic effect. Hiseman is an incredibly accomplished and technical drummer but despite Litherland's claim that his playing lost much of its visceral pulse hereabouts, I find his contributions to be unfailingly supportive of the musical materials to hand. Although Clempson is not on a par with the masterful Chris Farlowe he does a decent job and at the very least we are spared his coma inducing solo from '71 that is so odiously predictable, overlong and cliche filled it was used in torture experiments conducted from behind the iron curtain designed to break western spies during the Cold War.

Elegy - An odd name for such a funky little monkey y'all? This is James Litherland singing and his highly strung tonsils are a perfect match for material like this (they should be, he wrote it) By some weird perverse reason best known to the mental health profession I always envisage this is what Sly and the Family Stone gettin' oreo on us would sound like? Identical to the track that appears on the Valentyne Suite.

Butty's Blues - Another Litherland piece which would be a rather ordinary 12 bar but for the highly imaginative and refreshingly original take on da blooz courtesy of Neil Ardley's brilliant arrangement. Neil was the musical director of the New Jazz Orchestra from 1964 to 1970 which employed some of the best young musicians in London including Ian Carr, Jon Hiseman, Jack Bruce, Tony Reeves, Barbara Thompson, Dave Gelly, Mike Gibbs, Don Rendell, and Trevor Tomkins et al. A veritable who's who of fledgling UK fusion circa the mid 60's. They recorded at least one album I know of called Le Déjeuner Sur L'Herbe which is well worth tracking down and, despite the gauche double entendre in the title, is not filled with stoned hippy jazz w.a.n.k and also contains two compositions by the aforementioned Mike Taylor.

Rope Ladder to the Moon - Almost a sister song to Taylor's Jumping off the Sun and one of Jack Bruce's finest creations which to this day, I haven't the foggiest idea what he's banging on about. It hardly matters so just enjoy this oriental inflected slice of angular 60's kitsch for what it is. Not quite as assured as the road tested version on Live from 1971 but that's to be expected with what was new material of course. Clempson struggles with some of the higher notes but on this occasion such flaws imbue his delivery with an endearing vulnerability.

Bolero - My old geography teacher perhaps put it best when he described my crammed essay on soil erosion as 'long winded graffitti that would shame even a condemned building'. Yep, Ravel is subjugated to the indignity of being rendered 'diggable' by those who should have been rendered senseless with a shovel. Clempson's flimsy Davy O'List impersonation in the middle is unbearable, unforgivable, inexcusable and credible reason enough to dispense entirely with electricity.

The Machine Demands a Sacrifice - Memorable chorus hook certainly and Greenslade's organ solo is well worth the wait but this is two good ideas stretched to breaking point.

The Grass Is Greener - I've always adored this section from the Valentyne Suite and it appears to be pretty faithful to the album version, albeit it's Clempson, not Litherland on guitar. Dave Greenslade's subtle but always commanding Hammond is a salutary lesson in how to steer a vessel without recourse to a gangplank. Once again alas, Clempson's creaking blues rock excesses are completely oblivious to the economy displayed by Heckstall-Smith's indelible main theme and so keelhauling the insolent cur would be the only humane verdict all told.

There is some anecdotal evidence that had Colosseum been touring on the east coast of the USA in 1969 they would have been invited to perform at Woodstock. What this would have done for their subsequent career trajectory is at best speculative and at worst disingenuous. Forgive me for using a football analogy here but it's the most apt way I can think of to describe the demise of yet another delightful but doomed ensemble: Colosseum are perhaps comparable to the Dutch national football team i.e. they have thrilled audiences with their wonderful skill and technical mastery over many a lesser opponent but have won precisely zero, nada, zilch, squat with regards to trophies. Eleven brilliant players is not a team

 Valentyne Suite by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.21 | 369 ratings

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Valentyne Suite
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by ebil0505

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.
 Live 05 by COLOSSEUM album cover Live, 2007
4.39 | 20 ratings

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Live 05
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

4 stars Colosseum were one of the acts that turned me into a prog-fan when I was still in my formative years. Most of their works are still much cherished and stood the test of times well. Indeed, most of their previous works prior to this release are considered a Prog masterpieces. Band leader Jon Hiseman remains one of the finest British drummers.

But he made two mistakes. Firstly, on the disbanding of Colosseum, he established an overly ambitious project Colosseum II. Fast burning delivery with Gary Moore on guitars that in reality was going nowhere, but trying to imitate Return To Forever and even "remaking" the odd Stanley Clarke tune in a sneaky way - without giving credit.

Hiseman's other mistake was that on the passing of the one and only Dick Heckstall-Smith (saxes), he didn't call it a day for Colosseum. Instead, he installed his sax playing wife Barbara Thompson to fill shoes that just can't be filled. Thompson is a well recognized Jazz musician/composer, but her style would suit Jewish Kletzmer (anything goes with any instruments present) more than this fantastic band. I saw Thompson perform live with her (then) band BT's Paraphernalia in the 80's. I left the venue somewhat underwhealmed.

But what of this album? A very good performance by all, no doubt, but in comparison with their other live recordings, it remains my least favourite. Not bad at all, but I've only heard better than this before.

 Valentyne Suite by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.21 | 369 ratings

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Valentyne Suite
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

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.

 Reunion Concert Cologne 1994 by COLOSSEUM album cover DVD/Video, 2008
4.92 | 10 ratings

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Reunion Concert Cologne 1994
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars This one of those DVDs where everything comes together in a perfect package. The main feature is the complete reunion concert of Colosseum when they played in Germany in 1994. They kick off with "Those About To Die" and play many of their most well known pieces, such as "The Valentyne Suite". It is strange to think that it was some twenty years since they had last been together ? it is as if they had never been away. As a unit the band are incredibly tight, and produce music that is extremely complex with enough time changes and note density to please even the most unconvinced prog head. Add to that the power and presence of Chris Farlowe, who proves that he is still a vocalist to be reckoned with, and this concert is a joy from start to finish.

But if that wasn't enough, there is a 90 minute documentary detailing the complete history of the band, which is jam packed with interviews and relevant footage and photos. It is easily one of the best, if not the best, short history of a band that I have seen and it is worth buying the DVD for this alone. If you are a proghead yet have never heard Colosseum before (keyboard player Dave Greenslade also formed, um, Greenslade) then this is a wonderful introduction.

Originally appeared in Feedback #74, Jun 03

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