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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 : : :
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COLOSSEUM discography


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

3.65 | 155 ratings
Those Who Are About to Die Salute You
1969
4.22 | 440 ratings
Valentyne Suite
1969
3.78 | 109 ratings
The Grass Is Greener
1970
3.70 | 175 ratings
Daughter of Time
1970
3.11 | 47 ratings
Bread & Circuses
1997
2.76 | 37 ratings
Tomorrow's Blues
2003
3.36 | 41 ratings
Time on Our Side
2014
2.41 | 19 ratings
Restoration
2022

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

4.22 | 136 ratings
Colosseum Live
1971
4.10 | 35 ratings
LiveS - The Reunion Concerts 1994
1995
4.40 | 22 ratings
Live 05
2007
4.33 | 12 ratings
Theme for a Reunion
2009
5.00 | 1 ratings
Transmissions - Live at the BBC
2020

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

4.27 | 19 ratings
Colosseum Lives (DVD)
1997
4.91 | 18 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
4.67 | 3 ratings
Those Who Are About to Die Salute You / Valentyne Suite
1990
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Time Machine: Collection
1992
4.12 | 6 ratings
Anthology
2000
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
 Restoration by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2022
2.41 | 19 ratings

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Restoration
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mortte

2 stars Old bands seem not disappear, although their founding members die. Rolling Stones is continuing after Charlie Watt's death, so does ZZ Top after Dusty Hill's death. I really thought Colosseum will end after Jon Hiseman's death and it was big surprise to me when someone told they're coming to Finland again. Before this album I was glad about it, not sure anymore. There are three new members: Kim Nishikawara in sax, Nick Steed in keyboards and Malcom Mortimore in drums. The latter two are longtime musicians and played with many artists. Didn't find any information, why Barbara Thompson and Dave Greenslade aren't in Colosseum anymore. Really it can be heard in this album that Dave's absence is big loss.

'First In Line' is promising beginning! It reminds slightly 'Lost Angeles'. But where's sax? It comes into last minutes and then everything's fine! But mood changes into 'Hesitation', it's hardrock piece with too heavy guitarsound. Really don't like modern synths in the middle of it, luckily they're not on the top. But again direction changes: 'Need Somebody' is really good feeling bluesballad. 'Tonight' is even slower ballad, where Clem & Chris are singing together. Not bad, but little bit mediocre. 'A Cowboys`s Song' is another highlight in this album. It mix together hard rock riff and beautiful melodies. 'Innocence' is again little bit mediocre funky blues-piece. 'If Only Dreams Were Like This' is more Colosseum II-track in it's guitar and synth dominate fusionjazz.'I'll Shown You Mine' is a heavy-blues piece sung by Clempson. I think Cream could have made this kind of song if they had recorded new material in their reunion. 'Home By Dawn' is standard blues song with slight jazz flavor. 'Story Of the Blues' ends album quite the same way as previous piece, except tempo is faster.

Absolutely this is the weakest Colosseum album. Not sure why they made it, because bands haven't needed new album as excuse to go on tour in last decades. I don't hear that joy of playing anymore, that is those 3 former after reunion albums. But the weakest part is songmaterial. It's obvious when Greenslade made over half of the songmaterial and also mostly the best of them, the rest just can't make enough good stuff. One thing also seems often be wrong in these old bands new albums today. When recording has become very easy with the new digital equipment, it often seems to make fast and cheap. In this album as some others specially drums are sounding very awful in many songs. I believe Hiseman had standards how he's drums had to sound in Colosseum album, but new drummer Mortimore seemed not care about that. I believe me and also other in the fortcoming Colosseum concert will not be sad, if they're not playing anything from this album. But this album is not poor, it deserves two stars.

 Time on Our Side by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.36 | 41 ratings

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Time on Our Side
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mortte

3 stars Colosseum become my big favorites in the eighties, when I started to listen progmusic. Main reason was, that my brother had 'Valentyne Suite' as vinyl in his shelf. I didn't remember him to listen it ever, but that time I just wanted to listen every record he got. I wasn't yet into prog then, so after first listening specially the b-side was too much for me. But few years later, when I got into Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Wigwam, Genesis, Yes, Rush, Kansas, Procol Harum and Moody Blues, I started to love also that album. Very soon I bought myself other classic Colosseum albums. My brother bought me also 'Strange New Flesh' from Colosseum II, that never hit me the way first Colosseum did. Still haven't heard their 'War Dance'-album. To me it seems you are first or second Colosseum-fan, never seen anybody being both incarnations big fan.

In the nineties I noticed their reunion, when they were coming second time to Finland. Not sure why I didn't go to see them then, It's possible I wasn't very cheerful at the old progbands reunions then, because I was just so disappointed Pink Floyd's Division Bell-album. Anyway saw Colosseum Reunion concert 1994 DVD about ten years ago and that really hit me! Really wanted to see them in 2011, when they were third time in Finland, but I was then out of money and they didn't play near of my town. It was last year I noticed, they have also made three studio albums. Really didn't expect them much, but wanted to listen them all. In VdGG-concert last year somebody told me Colosseum didn't split after Hiseman's death and they're coming again to Finland. So now I have ticket to their concert in November!

Listened two first reunion albums and then noticed this third hasn't got any reviews here. So I think I have to made it. This is first album after Heckstall-Smith passing and although he was really great musician, Jon's wife Barbara filled his place really well! Album starts with 'Safe As Houses' that is very smooth, bluesy piece with jazz flavors. Next 'Blues To Music' is made by Jon's and Barbara's daughter Ana Gracey. She's also singing this very positive blues-song together with Chris. 'The Way You Waved Goodbye' is really melodic piece and has great vocals from Chris and Mark. 'Dick's Licks' seem to be tribute to Heckstall-Smith from Colosseum longtime lyricmaker Pete Brown and Dave Greenslade. I believe Dick would have loved it! Specially kind of chorus is really great!

'City Of Love' is again good blues-jazz -piece. 'Nowhere To Be Found' is beautiful ballad sung by Mark. In the vinyl these last two tracks have put in the other way round, naturally ballad ends the vinyl a-side better way. 'You Just Don't Get It' got good slide playing from Clem and sax playing from Barbara. 'New Day' uses partly the same chord rotation as there is in 'Beware the Ides Of March', that was taken to Procol's Whiter, that was taken to Bach's Air. Anyway really beautiful this new piece from the old ideas! 'Anno Domini' ends the official album really well, I think there is most the old Colosseum feeling. But in the CD there is also good version of Jack Bruce 's 'Morning Story' that is from Bruce's great 'Harmony Row'-album. Not the first time Colosseum made version from his material, there are good versions of 'Theme For an Imaginary Western' and 'Rope Ladder To the Moon'.

Yes, I admit progworld could have keep on going without these three (and maybe also four) new Colosseum albums. On the other hand to me it seems, when old progband make reunion and naturally can't make masterpieces anymore, it's even highly recommended to mock them or at least feel pity. And when nineties born progbands rotate mostly old ideas adding them only awful cold sounds and common cold feeling, everybody just keep on praising them! There are of course exceptions, but very few of new progbands I have found interesting. Instead I like to listen these old bands new albums, because at least they have a warm feeling. I think Faust, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Van Der Graaf Generator and Gong have made better new albums than Colosseum, but I believe I will listen these three albums again, although they will not be in heavy rotation. Next I am going to listen bands latest album and if it deserves more than one star, I will make a review also from that. Although music has always been important to me, I don't take it as serious as somebodies take religion. If musicians enjoy make music, I think they have right to make it also in their old band names. Who can make a rule, when you can't use your old bands name anymore? Well, I think there have been some ridiculous legal actions over bands names. In these three Colosseum albums you can really hear they enjoy making music.

 Restoration by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2022
2.41 | 19 ratings

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Restoration
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by drgrba

1 stars I'm particularly biased when it comes to name of the great band of Colosseum. It's virtually impossible for me to express any opinion in neutral way, free of emotions, sensible to the point of good reason. Not sure whether to apologize for that. I tend to think it's acceptable to lean to one side or another when it comes to musical taste. If you disagree, you'd do better if ignored my review.

Cover says "Colosseum" in recognized lettering, and there is even a silhouette of a guy we recognize from the best live album there is. Now, I'm looking at the album of the band that declared retirement honorably seven years ago. Well, even the name of this album suggests what we have around: shaping up what's declared over & out a while ago.

Two of the three good ghosts of Colosseum ? Jon Hiseman and Dick Heckstall-Smith ? paid their toll to the boatman and left the scene. The third one, Dave Greenslade, retired and I guess there is no one who could persuade him to join resurrected band just like Hiseman did back in 1994 (and not without quite some effort, if I remember hat story well). Guys that gathered are good and honorable musicians, there's nothing wrong with them being in action ? but hey, using renown brand made them pull the pistol first.

I listened to this album last night. And I'd only recognize this a Colosseum album if threatened my life.

The only guy trying to make it up is Clem Clempson. And that is not enough. And those... female backing vocals... Female backing vocals? What the heck? Wh$%^^[email protected]#%!!!! Come on! It's sold as Colosseum, not as a Eurovision contest candidate! Whoever produced this album wasn't thinking too much about all those who respect Colosseum as one of a kind. This music is not one of a kind and that makes it odd to think about it as a Colosseum album. I'm not sure what it's all about. Second to last number, "Home by Dawn", gets a bit closer to Colosseum blend, but that's not enough. If I'd want to listen to this once again, I'll need to persuade myself with more effort than pushing myself to dentist.

Don't get me wrong: this is a decent album and one can hear some decent musicianship on it. But it would be immature to rate any music by capacity of participants. This seems to be a contextual miss: we are suggested to measure the value of it by the same people who decided to pull up a retired brand we loved so dearly and stick it on the cover beside that silhouette taken form the album we all have in our collections and know the last bit of a sound from it. In other words: if I shoot them down, that's because they drew first at me, I had no other choice.

 Valentyne Suite by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.22 | 440 ratings

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Valentyne Suite
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Artik

5 stars This album was brilliant at the time of release and is brilliant today. Not exactly fusion, and not exactly prog (judging by today's meaning of the term) but the perfectly blended mixture of blues, heavy rock and jazz comming from the time when nobody new what prog is but everybody were trying to come up with something new, fresh and exciting. Many of them succeded and Colosseum is one of those bands. For the year of release their mixture of styles, their musicianship and their side-long epic were definitely progressive and groundbreaking. As for today I admire their contagious energy and bold delivery on the shorter tracks on first side and more sophisticated but no less enthusiastic compositional skills documented on side two of the vinyl. A masterpiece - essential in the development of the progressive rock genre as it is today or was back then (even if the name for it was to be invented later).
 Valentyne Suite by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.22 | 440 ratings

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Valentyne Suite
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars Colosseum peaked their career with this album, vastly improved over the not so distinguishable debut album. Still, I must say that Colosseum's music is an acquired taste: there is not enough for the typical prog-rock fan and there's likely not enough for an adventureous fusion fan. This is even more rock-jazz than jazz-rock. In particular the rhythm section sounds conventional albeit soloing on the brass instruments is pretty close to jazz and nothing short of quality. Vocals are bluesy and so is guitar. The compositions are average and still better developed than on the debut album. The first three tracks are not worth special descriptions but the album is worth acquiring because of the 16-minute title track and the peak of the band. The only more adventureous epic with prog-rock hints, good progressive Hammond without much of distracting vocals and with plenty space to solo for each instrument and good dynamics. Still, I can't give it more than 3 stars with progressive context in mind.
 Valentyne Suite by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.22 | 440 ratings

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Valentyne Suite
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by mental_hygiene

5 stars You could argue that Valentyne Suite is dated. Or that it's just proto-prog. Or that it's (by the standards of the rest of prog) basic. I think all of the above is true, but this album is still essential to the prog canon. What I love about this is the grime of it. It's dusty, muddy, and like many of the other debuts of the "founding father" bands of prog, the production on this has not aged well. Nonetheless, they made the most of it, from the murky bordering proto-sludge of the Kettle to the big band arrangements featured on Butty's Blues.

The first side of Valentyne Suite starts with the Kettle, a song I was the most familiar with before my first focused listen. Jon Hisemen's busy jazz-rock drumming style contrasts perfectly with the sometimes droning heavy psych guitar. The vocal line has a very pleasing airy quality to my ear. To me, the Kettle is a song that's constantly bordering falling apart but never does. The scat solo at the end at the unison with the guitar is also quite fun. Elegy contrasts the psychedelic heft of the first song with some British R&B influence. In this track, Greenslade's key playing becomes more of a clear factor of the music. It concludes with a tasteful saxophone solo. Butty's Blues is a very nice jazz-blues track where the organ is finally singled out as one of the star instruments of this album. I quite enjoy the sound of an old organ, even with the murky and inconsistent production. The way the horn arrangements collide with psychedelic blues reminds me of Chicago's debut album, albeit in a british r&b style. The Machine Demands a Sacrifice is the last nugget on the first side and is two minutes of song combined with a hypnotic percussion vamp.

The stars of this album are definitely the title track, one of the great early epics in prog history. The contrast between the recording quality of some instruments is funny in retrospect. For example, the xylophone is sharp and tinny while the organ is so muddy. This song really defines Colosseum with the swells and trills of organ, the adventurous jazz-rock instrumentation, and the fast and sometimes sneaky segues into new material. Instead of lead vocals, this song opts for some truly haunting backing choir arrangements in a classical style instead of a jazz style. The meshing of these genres might be crude, but it was pioneering at the time. One thing I like about the production is how it seems to blow out when the song hits a dynamic peak. Am I saying that this is a lofi masterpiece? Potentially.

While the sides of this album are a bit uneven, I think this album is clearly essential and enjoyable. I wouldn't single this out as THE example of prog, but Colosseum deserves recognition alongside King Crimson, Procol Harum, etc. as one of the first masterworks in prog.

 Valentyne Suite by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.22 | 440 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
3.65 | 155 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
3.70 | 175 ratings

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Daughter of Time
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

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
4.22 | 136 ratings

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Colosseum Live
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

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!

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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