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COLOSSEUM II

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United Kingdom


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Colosseum II biography
COLOSSEUM was one of the seminal progressive bands that emerged in the late Sixties, they disbanded in '71. A few years later drummer and prime mover Jon Hiseman recruted keyboard player Don Airey (nowadays DEEP PURPLE), vocalist Mike Starrs, guitar player Gary Moore (ex-THIN LIZZY) and bass-player John Mole in order to form COLOSSEUM II. In '76 their first LP titled "Strange New Flesh" came out, it has some fine moments but sounds a bit precarious. After the band dropped the singer COLOSSEUM II the chemistry was there: an instrumental fusion of jazz, rock, symphonic and classic, to be found on the excellent albums "Electric Savage" ('77) and "Wardance" ('78). Both records contain 8 captivating and alternating compositions with powerful and inventive drums, solid and propulsive bass play and tasteful colouring of the keyboards (Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes piano, Solina string-ensemble). But the focus is on Gary Moore's guitarplay: some Spanish guitar and many fiery and biting electric guitar solo's and exciting interplay with Don Airey's dazzling Minimoog flights. Gary Moore sounded far more creative and subtle (a kind of harder-edged blend of HACKETT and Jan AKKERMAN) than he ever did with THIN LIZZY or his later "bluesy period". In my opinion COLOSSEUM II has always been a bit underrated so I would like to recommend their second and a bit more mature third album.

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Strange New FleshStrange New Flesh
Remastered · Import
Esoteric 2012
Audio CD$13.28
War DanceWar Dance
One Way Records 1993
Audio CD$194.47
$36.07 (used)
Strange New FleshStrange New Flesh
Import
1999
Audio CD$74.09
$21.76 (used)
Electric SavageElectric Savage
One Way Records Inc 1993
Audio CD$39.96
$70.19 (used)
Strange New Flesh: UpgradedStrange New Flesh: Upgraded
Castle Us 2005
Audio CD$24.40 (used)
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COLOSSEUM II discography


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

3.58 | 74 ratings
Strange New Flesh
1976
3.63 | 65 ratings
Electric Savage
1977
3.66 | 60 ratings
War Dance
1977

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

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COLOSSEUM II Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Strange New Flesh by COLOSSEUM II album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.58 | 74 ratings

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Strange New Flesh
Colosseum II Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

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

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

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

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 War Dance by COLOSSEUM II album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.66 | 60 ratings

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War Dance
Colosseum II Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by richardh
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This was the last of a trio of albums by the line up of Jon Hiseman (drums) , Don Airey (keys) , Gary Moore( guitars and vocals) and John Mole (bass). This was 1977 and punk was in full flight so the kind of music this band were making was almost as far removed from 'trendy' as you could possibly get. But of course we don't care about that! The music is complex but always concise with never a moment wasted. Jazz rock fusion played with tons of energy and invention. The previous album Electric Savage had the great tracks Intergalactic Strut and The Scorch but overall lacked a cohesiveness to make it a truly satisfying listen. This on the other hand feels a like a step forward and a more complete work. Best track for me is The Inquistion. Moore demonstrates some ability on Spanish guitar playing at a hundred mile an hour. It has a mean hook that will bury itself in your brain and never leave. Perhaps the other stand out track is Castles which is the only vocal track on the album. Gary Moore shows what a great vocalist he was developing into and this was to stand him in great stead for his future blues albums.

Overall this is an excellent album and its a shame they didn't stay together much longer except to help a certain Andrew Lloyd Webber for his prog adventure (check it out!).

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 Strange New Flesh by COLOSSEUM II album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.58 | 74 ratings

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Strange New Flesh
Colosseum II Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by richardh
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This band was the brain child of drummer Jon Hiseman and guitarist Gary Moore who were keen to work together. In order to get the band off the ground the record company insisted that they call themselves 'Colosseum' but in reality this has nothing to do with that original band that made the vitally important Valentyne Suite album.

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

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

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

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 Strange New Flesh by COLOSSEUM II album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.58 | 74 ratings

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Strange New Flesh
Colosseum II Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Colosseum II is one of the most underrated progressive/jazz fusion bands ever IMO.Colosseum II is a fine combo featuring talented as well as skilled musicians that will influence later one thousands and thousands of musiciands from any genre. First album released in 1976 named Strange new fleash, offers right from the start the hudge potential this band weill have on their all 3 albums released before disbanding in 1978. Probably this album is my least fav from all 3, not because is bad, far from it, is quite excellent and a perfect example is The dark side of the moog, like the rest.complexity meets melodic passages into one unit, the musicianship is top notch, each musician is master at their instruments, specially and I simply love how works Gary Moore in duel with Don Airey, fabulous, and this bond will be even much more explored on the next two albums. So, easy 4 stars, excellent , all 3 albums are recomended, Colosseum II is no less captivating and inventive then any other band from their field like Brand X, Édition Spéciale more well known.

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 War Dance by COLOSSEUM II album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.66 | 60 ratings

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War Dance
Colosseum II Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars War dance released in same year with previous album Electric savage 1977 is another worthy album in jazz rock realm with progressive elements added in the mix. This is their final album untill they disbanded in 1978. Well, this offer is very much in same vein with Electric savage. Everybody knew the hudge potential had Moore and Airey onto Colosseum II sound and overall compositions, but really I didn,t knew I will be so impressed by Jon Hiseman on drums and John Mole on bass, they are fantastic musicians aswell like their band friends, Hiseman has some fabulous chops , specially all 4 musicians shine on fast instrumental passages like on The inquisition or title track, only one track Castle is with vocals coming from Moore voice, a so so afair not bad not something special either. So, definetly 4 stars for this one, for me Colosseum II is one of the most under rated bands from their fild. Very solid, well played, tight compositions.

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 Electric Savage by COLOSSEUM II album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.63 | 65 ratings

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Electric Savage
Colosseum II Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

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

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 Electric Savage by COLOSSEUM II album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.63 | 65 ratings

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Electric Savage
Colosseum II Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

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

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

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

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

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

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 Strange New Flesh by COLOSSEUM II album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.58 | 74 ratings

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Strange New Flesh
Colosseum II Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by lor68
Prog Reviewer

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

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

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

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

Make your own choice, as usual!

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 Strange New Flesh by COLOSSEUM II album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.58 | 74 ratings

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Strange New Flesh
Colosseum II Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

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

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

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

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

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 Strange New Flesh by COLOSSEUM II album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.58 | 74 ratings

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Strange New Flesh
Colosseum II Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars Only recently I re-listened to COLOSSEUM's Those Who Are About To DieSalute You / Valentyne Suite (they didn't much impress me as a young prog newbie some 20 years ago) and enjoyed most of them. Only some songs were too "heavy" or "rough" for my taste. I continued into the later reincarnation of the band, featuring, besides drummer Jon Hiseman, completely another line-up: the uprising guitar hero Gary Moore, keyboardist Don Airey, singer Mike Starrs and bassist Neil Murray. As liner notes tell, especially Moore and Murray were into American Fusion such as John McLaughlin & Mahavishnu Orchestra, and the group wanted to play energetic jazz-rock with virtuosity. They succeeded well in it; the original album consists only of six tracks, most of them longer than average because of brilliant soloing.

I've got the 2-CD Expanded Edition which really offers a lot more good stuff than the original album version. Indeed they could have come up with a solid double album as well. Though the rest are previously unreleased demos (plus three live versions), one really can't see a difference in the quality. The production values are high on everything here. I can't understand why they weren't bigger and why (because of that lack of bigger success, but also in advance) Gerry Bron of Bronze Records was so reluctant about this group - which actually took the Colosseum name after his order; originally they called themselves Ghosts. Yeah, the punk revolution was banging on the door, but hey, this music is very accessible and great! It's not bearing the cliches of Progressive Rock - unless one considers soloing as such - but instead it's suitably ballsy branch of slightly funky jazz-rock with a strong vocalist as well.

A few words on some of the bonuses: 'Castles' is a fine melodic song, served as both 11-minute and 5-minute versions. 'Walking in the Park' is a new version of a song from Colosseum's debut (1969), and a whole lot better one (though that song is among those I didn't much enjoy). 'The Awakening' and 'Siren Song' are long tracks in the style of 'Winds' of the original album, and perhaps even better ones than the mentioned album-closer. These lively tracks really don't feel pretentiously extended,and the same can be said of the 9-minute version of a Joni Mitchell song 'Down To You' included on the original album. 'Rivers' is a nice song of normal length, with Gary Moore on fairly good vocals. After Starrs was foolishly asked to leave by the record company, the group continued as more instrumentally oriented, which naturally pleased the company less and less. Maybe the group was out there at a difficult moment, but the music is still as fresh as 35 years ago.

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