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COLOSSEUM

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United Kingdom


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Colosseum biography
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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LiveLive
Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 2004
Audio CD$5.57
$5.79 (used)
For Those Who Are About to Die We Salute YouFor Those Who Are About to Die We Salute You
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 2004
Audio CD$4.49
$9.22 (used)
Grass Is GreenerGrass Is Greener
Import · Remastered
Talking Elephant 2011
Audio CD$8.53
$8.59 (used)
Valentyne SuiteValentyne Suite
Import
Sanctuary UK 2006
Audio CD$4.49
$2.98 (used)
Morituri Te SalutantMorituri Te Salutant
Import
Ume Imports 2009
Audio CD$299.99
$239.99 (used)
Time on Our SideTime on Our Side
RUF RECORDS 2015
Audio CD$10.35
$13.62 (used)
Daughter of TimeDaughter of Time
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 2004
Audio CD$4.49
$2.76 (used)
Live05Live05
Ruf 2010
Audio CD$11.89
$10.98 (used)
Those Who Are About to Die Salute You / Valentyne SuiteThose Who Are About to Die Salute You / Valentyne Suite
Import
Audio CD$41.51
$10.38 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Colosseum - Daughter of Time (1998) USD $6.21 [0 bids]
34m 50s
BALLETTMUSIK GLASUNOW TCHEREPNIN MAGA COLOSSEUM SM 560 LP 12" VINYL USD $15.56 Buy It Now 53m 9s
Colosseum - Valentyne Suite LP UK 1972 VG+/EX # Prog USD $31.15 Buy It Now 1h
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Schubert Franck Violin Sonatas David Oistrakh Lev Oborin Colosseum 1956 USD $25.00 Buy It Now 4h 58m
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9h 46m
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10h 7m
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COLOSSEUM shows & tickets


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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)

3.60 | 98 ratings
Those Who Are About To Die Salute You
1969
4.19 | 277 ratings
Valentyne Suite
1969
3.71 | 69 ratings
The Grass Is Greener
1970
3.64 | 114 ratings
Daughter of Time
1970
3.10 | 30 ratings
Bread & Circuses
1997
2.70 | 25 ratings
Tomorrow's Blues
2003
3.45 | 20 ratings
Time On Our Side
2014

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

4.23 | 98 ratings
Colosseum Live
1971
4.11 | 26 ratings
LiveS - The reunion concerts 1994
1995
4.38 | 16 ratings
Live 05
2007
4.33 | 9 ratings
Theme For A Reunion
2009

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

4.25 | 14 ratings
Colosseum Lives (DVD)
1997
4.94 | 7 ratings
Reunion Concert Cologne 1994
2008

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

4.00 | 3 ratings
The Collectors Colosseum
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
Pop Chronik
1972
0.00 | 0 ratings
Those Who Are About To Die Salute You / Valentyne Suite
1990
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Time Machine: Collection
1992
4.09 | 4 ratings
The HTD Anthology
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
An Introduction To
2004
4.00 | 1 ratings
Epitaph
2006
4.92 | 4 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
 The Grass Is Greener by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.71 | 69 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

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 Valentyne Suite by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.19 | 277 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.

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 Live 05 by COLOSSEUM album cover Live, 2007
4.38 | 16 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.

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 Valentyne Suite by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.19 | 277 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.

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 Reunion Concert Cologne 1994 by COLOSSEUM album cover DVD/Video, 2008
4.94 | 7 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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 Valentyne Suite by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.19 | 277 ratings

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Valentyne Suite
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Though really not that different from their debut, it's still quite an improvement. Retaining their strong blues and jazz influences they go into a more progressive jazz rock territory, making Valentyne suite a delight. While the title track is a true prog epic, the other tracks are pleasant but not necessarily progressive. "The machine demands a sacrifice" is proggish jazz rock while "Butty's blues" is a straight forward blues number and as such it is a splendid track. "Elegy" seems to be a continuation of "Beware the ides of march", in dome ways, with it's warm and pleasant ambiance.

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

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 Those Who Are About To Die Salute You by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.60 | 98 ratings

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

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The boom occuring in Britain in the 60's resulted in many a terrific band and even more outstanding pieces of music. From America the blues took hold of the Is,es and rock'n'roll became a british affair, dominating the development of music throughout the 1960's. That is my opinion, anyway. Firmly rooted in the blues bands started exploring the boundaries of the genre, expanding it's sound and eventually inventing both progregssive music and hard rock. Cream were probably the leader of the pack, alongside John Mayall, at least when discussing the progressive blues scene. There were other bands aswell, of course. Led Zeppelin, for instance, or Black Sabbath even, who despite being honoured with being the godfathers of metal, still recordeda debut containing alot of mainly seld written progressive blues numbers.

Colosseum was one of these bands and their bluesroots are obvious for anyone. Their approach is somewhat different though, than the bands previoulsy mentioned. First of all the horns are very dominant, making the music very rich, and then they merge genres without effort, it seems, making the music a strange but very appealing brew. Maybe it is their name but I feel there are notes dating back from the ancient world all the way up to the present. Maybe I am raving now.

The albumis pleasant enoughbut really not that amazing. Though I enjoy listening to it and comes back every now and then, I feel the music making not all that big an impression. It is well played and arranged but basically it is progressive blues. Behind all the horns, amazing organ et al the foundation is built around mainly standard blues, though written by the band. It might seem I'm not that keen on the music but I am. Like I said, it is pleasant, grooving and kicking but not so much more.

My favorite track is "Beware the ides of March", with it's warm atmosphere and amazing interplay. Being an instrumental they manage to paint a picture of the death of Julius Caesar, as I interpret the music. Dramatic, pompous and daring. Exraordinary and a hint for the future.

Conclusion: The first album by Colosseum is a progressive blues album and as such it is pleasant and enjoyable. If you want more progressive music than blues, go for the next album - Valentyne suite. This is a great beginning for a short lived band, making great progressive music in a blues/jazz setting. Great but not an outstanding album in any sense of the word.

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 Valentyne Suite by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.19 | 277 ratings

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Valentyne Suite
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by presdoug

5 stars Colosseum's "Valentyne Suite" was one of the first records of the group i ever heard and owned, finding an lp copy of it in 1988. I was instantly impressed with the combination of variety and cohesion here in this record which the band pull off incredibly well.

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

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

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

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 LiveS - The reunion concerts 1994 by COLOSSEUM album cover Live, 1995
4.11 | 26 ratings

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LiveS - The reunion concerts 1994
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Considering the band were only in existence for three years they had enormous impact on the progressive and jazz rock scenes, and to hear them again some twenty-two years after they broke up is quite something (even more remarkable is that they are soon to release a new studio album and are touring again!). The band came from many backgrounds, but brought into the rock arena a strong love and understanding for both the blues and jazz.

Jon Hiseman has long been rated as one of the best jazz drummers around; while there can be few sax players in the world that can stay the pace with Dick Heckstall-Smith. Add to that the guitar skills of Clem Clempson and keyboard playing of Dave Greenslade, with the vocals of Chris Farlowe (surely one of our most under-rated singers) and bassist Mark Clarke and here was the 1971 line-up back in full flow.

Not really a band made for singles or the radio, this is a band that strived on improvisation and building on each other, and so many years later that is still very evident in their performance. Yes, there are loads of solos and long instrumental passages, but the music just sounds right ? created by people with tremendous skill and mastery of their craft but at the same time not being overindulgent (well, not too much). They know when the time is right to bring the rest of the band back in.

A tremendous gig by a band on top form ? Hiseman says that the years apart have meant that they now play better than ever, he could well be right.

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 Valentyne Suite by COLOSSEUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.19 | 277 ratings

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Valentyne Suite
Colosseum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Ozymandias

3 stars Not so much a review as a personal view of an album which I believe was the first to be released on the Verigo label, so found it interesting, as I like a lot of music from the same label.

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

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

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

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