Jazz Related Rock / Fusion • United Kingdom
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Hiseman and Heckstall-Smith had first met up in the Graham Bond Organisation in 1966 - Hiseman having replaced Ginger Baker, who'd left for Cream. They both left Bond the following year; the drummer Joining Georgie Fame's band, the sax man - who'd earlier been a key figure in Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated - heading for John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. But 1968 saw Hiseman in Mayall's band as well, the pair of them featuring on the Bare Wires album.

Setting up Colosseum was the next move, the plan to fuse jazz and rock leanings and to allow individual talent to flourish within a band framework. The group's 1969 albums - Those Who Are About To Die Salute You and Valentyne Suite - saw Hiseman, Heckstall-Smith and Dave Greenslade playing alongside guitarist- vocalist James Litherland and bassist Tony Reeves (Reeves having also come from Mayall). The latter two departed - being replaced by Farlowe,
Thanks to EZ Money for the addition and snobb for the updates




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COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II albums / top albums

COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Those Who Are About to Die Salute You album cover 3.56 | 6 ratings
Those Who Are About to Die Salute You
Jazz Related Rock 1969
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Valentyne Suite album cover 3.80 | 9 ratings
Valentyne Suite
Jazz Related Rock 1969
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II The Grass Is Greener album cover 4.03 | 12 ratings
The Grass Is Greener
Jazz Related Rock 1970
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Daughter of Time album cover 2.93 | 5 ratings
Daughter of Time
Jazz Related Rock 1970
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Colosseum II - Strange New Flesh album cover 3.91 | 2 ratings
Colosseum II - Strange New Flesh
Jazz Related Rock 1976
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Colosseum II - War Dance album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Colosseum II - War Dance
Jazz Related Rock 1977
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Electric Savage (Colosseum II) album cover 2.50 | 2 ratings
Electric Savage (Colosseum II)
Fusion 1977
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Bread & Circuses album cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Bread & Circuses
Jazz Related Rock 1997
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Tomorrow's Blues album cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Tomorrow's Blues
Jazz Related Rock 2003
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Time On Our Side album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Time On Our Side
Jazz Related Rock 2014



COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Live album cover 3.87 | 6 ratings
Jazz Related Rock 1971
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II The Reunion Concerts 1994 album cover 3.85 | 4 ratings
The Reunion Concerts 1994
Jazz Related Rock 1995
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Live05 album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Jazz Related Rock 2007
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Transmissions Live at the BBC album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Transmissions Live at the BBC
Jazz Related Rock 2020
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Jumping Off The Sun album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jumping Off The Sun
Jazz Related Rock 2021

COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II re-issues & compilations

COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II The Collectors album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Collectors
Jazz Related Rock 1971
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Those Who Are About to Die / Valentyne Suite album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Those Who Are About to Die / Valentyne Suite
Jazz Related Rock 1990
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II The Time Machine album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
The Time Machine
Jazz Related Rock 1991
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Anthology album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Jazz Related Rock 2000
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Live Cologne 1994 album cover 3.88 | 3 ratings
Live Cologne 1994
Jazz Related Rock 2003
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II An Introduction to... Colosseum album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
An Introduction to... Colosseum
Jazz Related Rock 2004
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II The Complete Reunion Concert album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Complete Reunion Concert
Jazz Related Rock 2006
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Theme for a Reunion album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Theme for a Reunion
Jazz Related Rock 2007
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II Morituri te salutant album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Morituri te salutant
Jazz Related Rock 2009





Album · 1970 · Jazz Related Rock
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The Best Restaurant in Rome (If You're a Lion)

This stateside only release from 1970 has come to resemble something of a curio in the Colosseum discography. It was rushed out with rather indecent haste just a few months after the successful Valentyne Suite (presumably under the pretext of James Litherland having being replaced in the interim by Clem Clempson) Anyways, given that it features the new singer and guitarist on alternate versions of previously released numbers, plus some new and old material, it still hangs together surprisingly well as a stand alone document and not some expedient ploy designed to plunge our short arms into deep pockets. Litherland's departure is a mixed blessing for your reviewer as I prefer his guitar work but favour Clempson's lower vocal range. Tensions had been running high in the band for some time prior to Litherland being asked to leave and he cites soloist's egos, over elaborate arrangements, and a dearth of 'in the pocket groove' from drummer Hiseman as all being contributing factors to his estrangement from his colleagues. More pointedly perhaps was him discovering quite by chance that his band mates were being paid considerably more than he was as the singer, guitarist and composer. How ironic therefore that the man they nicknamed 'Butty' (after the Mancunian slang for a sandwich) was toast after claiming he received too little bread (Man)

Jumping Off the Sun - This unique song was written by the rather tragic figure of one Mike Taylor, an incredibly original and talented jazz pianist who ended up drowned in the River Thames at just 30 years old, purportedly under his own hand. It's one of the most unusual and unnerving compositions I've heard in a long while and seems in places almost to defy the trumping gravitational pull of tension and its release we crave for in diatonic music. Even the chorus type 'hook' betrays a maverick agenda by landing on a lacerating discord. There are weird jutting cadences, sly metric jesting and unresolved harmonies at play here that apart from maybe Syd Barrett and Thelonious Monk, have no precedent I can cite.

Lost Angeles - It's fascinating to hear this early run-through of a number that was given its definitive reading on the stirring Live version from '71. Greenslade's murky organ occupies a less prominent role here but his gossamer chiming vibes are captured beautifully and Heckstall-Smith interjects some bluesy strands of noirish sax to cinematic effect. Hiseman is an incredibly accomplished and technical drummer but despite Litherland's claim that his playing lost much of its visceral pulse hereabouts, I find his contributions to be unfailingly supportive of the musical materials to hand. Although Clempson is not on a par with the masterful Chris Farlowe he does a decent job and at the very least we are spared his coma inducing solo from '71 that is so odiously predictable, overlong and cliche filled it was used in torture experiments conducted from behind the iron curtain designed to break western spies during the Cold War.

Elegy - An odd name for such a funky little monkey y'all? This is James Litherland singing and his highly strung tonsils are a perfect match for material like this (it should be, he wrote it) By some weird perverse reason best known to the mental health profession I always envisage this is what Sly and the Family Stone gettin' oreo on us would sound like? Identical to the track that appears on the Valentyne Suite.

Butty's Blues - Another Litherland piece which would be a rather ordinary 12 bar but for the highly imaginative and refreshingly original take on da blooz courtesy of Neil Ardley's brilliant arrangement. Neil was the musical director of the New Jazz Orchestra from 1964 to 1970 which employed some of the best young musicians in London including Ian Carr, Jon Hiseman, Jack Bruce, Tony Reeves, Barbara Thompson, Dave Gelly, Mike Gibbs, Don Rendell, and Trevor Tomkins et al. A veritable who's who of fledgling UK fusion circa the mid 60's. They recorded at least one album I know of called Le Déjeuner Sur L'Herbe which is well worth tracking down and, despite the gauche double entendre in the title, is not filled with stoned hippy jazz w.a.n.k and also contains two compositions by the aforementioned Mike Taylor.

Rope Ladder to the Moon - Almost a sister song to Taylor's Jumping off the Sun and one of Jack Bruce's finest creations which to this day, I haven't the foggiest idea what he's banging on about. It hardly matters so just enjoy this oriental inflected slice of angular 60's kitsch for what it is. Not quite as assured as the road tested version on Live from 1971 but that's to be expected with what was new material of course. Clempson struggles with some of the higher notes but on this occasion such flaws imbue his delivery with an endearing vulnerability.

Bolero - My old geography teacher perhaps put it best when he described my crammed essay on soil erosion as 'long winded graffitti that would shame even a condemned building'. Yep, Ravel is subjugated to the indignity of being rendered 'diggable' by those who should have been rendered senseless with a shovel. Clempson's flimsy Davy O'List impersonation in the middle is unbearable, unforgivable, inexcusable and credible reason enough to dispense entirely with electricity.

The Machine Demands a Sacrifice - Memorable chorus hook certainly and Greenslade's organ solo is well worth the wait but this is two good ideas stretched to breaking point.

The Grass Is Greener - I've always adored this section from the Valentyne Suite and it appears to be pretty faithful to the album version, albeit it's Clempson, not Litherland on guitar. Dave Greenslade's subtle but always commanding Hammond is a salutary lesson in how to steer a vessel without recourse to a gangplank. Once again alas, Clempson's creaking blues rock excesses are completely oblivious to the economy mirrored by Heckstall-Smith's indelible main theme and so keelhauling the insolent cur would be the only humane verdict all told.

There is some anecdotal evidence that had Colosseum been touring on the east coast of the USA in 1969 they would have been invited to perform at Woodstock. What this would have done for their subsequent career trajectory is at best speculative and at worst disingenuous. Forgive me for using a football analogy here but it's the most apt way I can think of to describe the demise of yet another delightful but doomed ensemble: Colosseum are perhaps comparable to the Dutch national football team i.e. they have thrilled audiences with their wonderful skill and technical mastery over many a lesser opponent but have won precisely zero, nada, squat with regards to trophies. Eleven brilliant players is not a 'team'


Album · 1970 · Jazz Related Rock
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There are so many occasions when the British and US releases differ, sometimes drastically, Colosseum is a perfect example. The debuts released in the UK and US are not the some. The Fontana version of Those Who Are About to Die Salute You is the original album, the US version of ABC/Dunhill replaced some of the songs with material from their forthcoming Valentyne Suite (not released in the States, at least not in that form or title). The Grass is Greener is what the American public got instead of Valentyne Suite. By this time, the group featured new guitarist Dave "Clem" Clempson who later replaced Peter Frampton in Humble Pie. So what you get is brand new studio cuts, reworking of Valentyne Suite material with the new guitarist (and vocalist), and one cut from Valentyne Suite left along, complete with previous guitarist and vocalist James Litherland. "Jumping off the Sun" is a fantastic piece, and it was too band the British never got to hear this studio version. "Lost Angeles" features lyrics that were no doubt about Los Angeles, calling it a shanty town, even for the millionaires. "Elegy" is exactly the same as on Valentyne Suite, but the other Valentyne Suite songs had vocals replaced by Clem, and sometimes rerecorded. The trippy outro of "The Machine Demands a Sacrifice" has been totally removed. Then material exclusive (in the studio, that is) to this album includes also a cover of Jack Bruce's "Rope Ladder to the Moon" and "Bolero". The former features probably the only time a Mellotron was featured on a Colosseum album, and probably the inspiration for Dave Greenslade to use a Mellotron much more in the future, particularly his next band, Greenslade. To me, you really need both Valentyne Suite and this one to get everything from this period in the band's career. Their best material can be found on both.


Boxset / Compilation · 2003 · Jazz Related Rock
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kev rowland
Considering the band were only in existence for three years they had enormous impact on the progressive and jazz rock scenes, and to hear them again some twenty-two years after they broke up is quite something (even more remarkable is that they are soon to release a new studio album and are touring again!). The band came from many backgrounds, but brought into the rock arena a strong love and understanding for both the blues and jazz.

Jon Hiseman has long been rated as one of the best jazz drummers around; while there can be few sax players in the world that can stay the pace with Dick Heckstall-Smith. Add to that the guitar skills of Clem Clempson and keyboard playing of Dave Greenslade, with the vocals of Chris Farlowe (surely one of our most under-rated singers) and bassist Mark Clarke and here was the 1971 line-up back in full flow.

Not really a band made for singles or the radio, this is a band that strived on improvisation and building on each other, and so many years later that is still very evident in their performance. Yes, there are loads of solos and long instrumental passages, but the music just sounds right – created by people with tremendous skill and mastery of their craft but at the same time not being overindulgent (well, not too much). They know when the time is right to bring the rest of the band back in.

A tremendous gig by a band on top form – Hiseman says that the years apart have meant that they now play better than ever, he could well be right.


Album · 1970 · Jazz Related Rock
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Third Colosseum studio album is a strange fruit. It was released in USA only, and formally is "Valentyne Suite" , band's second studio album's, version for US market. Even cover picture is almost the same (only darker and in a different hue). But under the cover, situation is more difficult. Half of the album (4 songs) are all new ,and don't appear on any other band's studio album ( Jumping Off the Sun, Lost Angeles, Rope Ladder to the Moon and Bolero). So this album has a full right to be counted as their third studio one. And big part music is very different from "Valentyne Suite" there due to the replacement of James Litherland for Dave 'Clem' Clempson.

In fact, there are three songs from "Valentyne Suite" side A presented, and part 3 from "Valentyne Suite", long composition, filling all side B on original "Valentine Suite " release is used as well ( under slightly different name as well - original name is "The Grass Is Always Greener ... "). But from all 4 songs, only one could be possible absolutely the same as on "Valentyne Suite" album. It is "Elegy", great song with previous vocalist Butty Litherland vocals. Three other are re-recorded with Clempson vocals.

Music on this album is generally same great early heavy jazz-rock, with massive keyboards and excellent sax of Dick Heckstall-Smith. Having its roots in r'n'b from late 60-s, Colosseum is one of great early jazz-rock band of all times. Compositions are complex, but very melodic, still with great rock tradition of songwriting ( and not main accent on musicianship technique). You will easily feel some blues rock and light psychedelic smell there.

Interesting and very competent work, but possibly not a best entrance to Colosseum. Clempson is their worst vocalist, and because of strange songs combination this album is not so representative. But absolutely must have for band's fans.

COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II The Reunion Concerts 1994

Live album · 1995 · Jazz Related Rock
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Sean Trane
fifth article in a series of five

I'll review the DVD, since they CD is the same concert.

In 94, Colosseum reconvened for a reunion tour, as they became aware of the continuous attention the individual musicians were getting from fans. So John Hiseman once again took the helm, and the rehearsal then the triumphant concerts were given and they decided to go on with further sessions to seal the reunion with a new studio album. While this new album is not really up to par with what had been done some 25 years earlier (read my review about it), the live concerts were certainly immensely good and flawlessly played. As leader Hiseman says, they were doing nothing new, but whatever they did, they did it much better than back then.

So the concert part of the DVD is absolutely enjoyable, flawless played and the track selection is quite outstanding. Actually, the track selection takes what had been recorded on their last album, the double Live album, over twenty years ago, and adds up a few essential tracks from the first two albums with the first line-up. And all of these tracks are absolutely superbly rendered by a fired-up band, but having added Those About To Die (they open the show with it), the orgiastic Elegy and the orgasmic Valentyne Suite, they could not have done it better, really! So much that it is making useless that very record it takes most of its selection from as it had a few flaws (of which was much too bluesy). A two hour show done impeccably by most musicians bordering the 60 years of age (they were seasoned veterans by the time Colosseum disbanded in late 71), but with the enthusiasm and power equal to their previous tour a quarter a century earlier and a fabulous savoir-faire of the German film crew - this was recorded in Cologne and the reunion tour was mostly on a German initiative.

But the goodies do not stop there. The second part of the DVD is a superb rockumentary about the reunion and the future album recording sessions, but also and mainly the historics of Colosseum from their career start to the ultimate demise of the group. Plenty of superb filming from those heydays, plenty of interviews from the musicians (all of them, Reeves and Litherland included), but their management and crew also. Absolutely perfect even if Hiseman takes the centre-role, he does not pull all the cover to himself either. Absolutely perfect and almost a dream come true!!! A must and maybe the only five star in their catalogue besides the second Valentyne Suite album.


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