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




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.64 | 135 ratings

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3 stars Colosseum are a great band to listen to if you want to hear a quintet of brilliant blues and jazz musicians stumbling around to create nascent progressive rock (not that that's likely to be a term that ever occurred to them at the time). Formed by Graham Bond Organisation and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers veterans Jon Hiseman (drums) and Dick Heckstall-Smith (Saxes), Colosseum also included lead vocalist/guitarist James Litherland, bassist Tony Reeves and organist Dave Greenslade.

Their debut album was recorded in late 1968 (albeit released in 1969) and boy does it show! Listening to it one is transported back to those swinging jazz clubs that kept London buzzing at 4 in the morning (well, I was born in 1973 so I'm imagining this part!). It is full of bluesy material like Plenty Hard Luck, Debut and Blackwater Blues that feature fiery solos from Heckstall-Smith and Litherland in particular. It also includes two great jazz-rock songs in the stomping opener Walking In The Park and the elegant hypnotic Heckstall-Smith composition The Road She Walked Before.

Having said that not a lot of this album is really progressive ... the main exception being Mandarin, an instrumental that features Reeves' bass playing alongside some tasty organ and a brief spell of wah-wah playing from Litherland (Hiseman's original liner notes tell us that this tune is based on a Japanese soft scale, by the way). Greenslade gets to shine on the another instrumental Beware The Ides Of March which takes some getting used to as it uses the same Bach chord progression that inspired Procol Harum's A Whiter Shade Of Pale, before breaking into a Santana like percussion-heavy freak-out. The album's concluding tune Those About To Die is an interesting jazzy workout that occassionally sounds a little cheesy.

Ultimately this album was destined to be eclipsed by its astounding successor Valentyne Suite and is perhaps worth listening as much for the historical context as for the actual music it contains. Those who are not fond of straight blues and jazz are warned to stay clear! ... 53% on the MPV scale.

Trotsky | 3/5 |


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