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Colosseum - Those Who Are About To Die Salute You CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.64 | 136 ratings

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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.

jamesbaldwin | 4/5 |


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