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Colosseum - Colosseum Live  CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.22 | 127 ratings

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3 stars I came to this album as a fan of the original Colosseum line-up (particularly its second album Valentyne Suite) yet never having heard a moment of the Farlowe/Clempson/Clarke incarnation's studio work. What I got was a mixed bag that left me exhilarated at times and deflated at others.

For me, only 3 of the 7 tracks here (Rope Ladder To The Moon, Tanglewood 63 and Lost Angeles) meet my expectations of what Colosseum can acheive. The opening track sees some quality work on vibes from Dave Greenslade before he moves onto organ and totally dominates the song with some fantastic lead work. Clempson and Dick Heckstall-Smith weigh in towards the end and Farlowe's deep soulful voice suits this one.

Tanglewood 63 is a jazz tour-de-force in which Heckstall-Smith's dazzling saxophone talents come to the work, although Greenslade nearly steals the show again with a classy solo. Despite the twee 60s pop vocal embellishments, this piece is generally potent jazz-rock of a different ilk from either Canterbury prog or post Bitches Brew fusion.

The closer Lost Angeles is an exciting Greenslade driven piece in which maestro's organ once again comes to the fore. Reminiscent at times of ol' Dave's magnum opus Valentyne Suite, Lost Angeles sees Colosseum hit some dizzying heights of progressive interplay. I'm not sure if Farlowe's vocals are appropriate for the initial part of this excellent composition, but the rest of the band turn in some awesome playing. This multi-part epic effortlessly swings from heavy blues rock to breathy jazz excursions, from potent classically-influenced playing to a glorious moody vibraphone dominated vocal section in which Farlowe redeems himself. And my Lord, what a scorching outro they leave us with ... even if fans of Led Zeppelin's Babe I'm Gonna Leave You and/or Chicago's 25 or 6 to 4 will definitely feel it to be a rather familiar one though!

On the downside, two other tunes ... the pulsating Walking In The Park and the blues standard Stormy Monday Blues ... are acceptable jazz-inflected blues jams, but when they are lumped together with the overlong blues-by-numbers tunes Skelington and I Can't Live Without You, one is left with the impression that the quality of the musicians on show cannot overcome the pedestrian nature of the material. I still struggle to believe that a band containing three musicians I admire as much as Greenslade, Heckstall-Smith and drummer Jon Hiseman could churn out such unadventurous music for so long, although I suppose I should have been prepared for this given the presence of Plenty Hard Luck, Debut and Backwater Blues on the first album and Butty's Blues on the second.

Ultimately the disc's highlights make this an interesting document that ought to be heard by more people than just Colosseum fans, although this is not where I would recommend a novice start (yes ... that would be Valentyne Suite cropping up again!). ... 58% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 3/5 |


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