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Colosseum - Valentyne Suite CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.21 | 398 ratings

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4 stars One of the pivotal early progressive rock releases, Colosseum's Valentyne Suite' album has long been rightfully hailed as a classic of the genre. Blending jazz, blues and rock in equal measure, Colosseum were part of the first wave of prog bands alongside the likes of King Crimson, Still Life, Rare Bird and Genesis, releasing their debut album 'Those Who Are About To Die We Salute You' in 1968, just after Procol Harum had unleashed the multi-part epic 'In Held Twas I' from their 'Shine On Brightly' album. Whilst Colosseum's first album showed a group still learning their trade, 'Valentyne Suite' would see all the disparate elements sown together almost perfectly, creating a thrilling union of rough-edged blues-rock, jazzy textures and complex time-signatures that belied their youthful status. Opening track 'The Kettle' finds the group in blistering form, with James Litherland's prime guitar riffs and Dave Greenslade's wailing vocals pounding energetically through four-and-a-half minutes of almost Hendrixian rock 'n' roll, the song all the time teetering on the edge of instrumental chaos and threatening to lose it's rhythmic grip but somehow always holding on to the pulse. It's a thrilling sonic sound-clash that perfectly illustrates Colosseum's imaginative style, whilst the more melodic, jazzier follow-up 'Elegy' provides the perfect antidote, settling things down with some classy sax from Dick Heckstall-Smith. For many, however, the real treat on 'Valentyne Suite' is the three-part title track, which provides a lengthy, ever-twisting journey through Colosseum's jazz-fuelled reading of contemporary rock, with cool sax, finely-tuned guitars and Dave Greenslade's beautifully-played organ combining to wonderful effect. Indeed, 'Valentyne Suite' would provide the high watermark for Colosseum's brief-but-brilliant tenure, with the less engaging but still worthy follow-up 'Daughter Of Time' providing yet more swiftly-executed jazz-rock and the live effort - titled, rather blandly, 'Colosseum Live' - demonstrating each members impressive playing skills as they stretch and mould various album tracks into exciting new versions, each album featuring an earthy and richly-imbued sensitivity for the modalities of their material. Like the best jazz-themed rock Colosseum have that canny ability to appeal to several audiences at once, with their breathtaking playing and innovative merging of styles putting them on a par with the other jazz-prog greats of the era, such as Soft Machine, Nucleus, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Miles Davis. A classy treat, 'Valentyne Suite' fully deserves it's place in the pantheon of great and influential progressive rock albums. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
stefro | 4/5 |


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