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Colosseum - Valentyne Suite

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Valentyne Suite

Colosseum

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One of England's prime jazz-rock -- or, more accurately, rock-jazz -- outfits, most of the members of Colosseum had apprenticed in blues bands, and it shows very strongly on some of the material here. Both "The Kettle" and "Butty's Blues" are essentially tarted-up 12-bar blues, although they work well in a grander context; in the latter case much grander, as a brass ensemble enters for the last part, drowning out everything but the guitar, an indication that this recording is in dire need of remastering. "Elegy" is a fast-paced, minor-key blues that stretches guitarist James Litherland's vocal abilities. Things do get far more interesting with "The Machine Demands a Sacrifice," which offers solo opportunities to organist Dave Greenslade and sax player Dick Heckstall-Smith before re-emerging in what can only be called a proto-industrial style, all heavily treated clattering percussion. The album's real joy comes with "The Valentyne Suite," which takes the band out of their bluesy comfort zone into something closer to prog rock. Bandleader Jon Hiseman is a stalwart throughout, his busy drumming and fills owing far more to jazz than the studied backbeat of rock. Greenslade proves to be a largely unsung hero, his only real solo in the suite something to offer a challenge to vintage Keith Emerson, but with swing. As to criticism, bassist Tony Reeves has very little flow to his playing, which severely hampers a rhythm section that needs to be loose-limbed, and Litherland's guitar playing is formulaic, which can be fine for rock, but once outside the most straightforward parameters, he seems lost. In retrospect this might not quite the classic it seemed at the time, but it remains listenable, and for much of the time, extremely enjoyable.
© Chris Nickson /TiVo

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Valentyne Suite

Colosseum

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1
The Kettle
00:04:25

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Composer, Soprano Saxophone - Jon Hiseman, Composer, Drums - SMITH, Composer - Dave Greenslade, Organ, Percussion, Piano - Colosseum, MainArtist - Tony Reeves, Bass - Dave "Clem" Clempson, Guitar - Heckstall, Composer - Hisemann, Lyricist

2004 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company 1969 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company

2
Elegy
00:03:10

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Soprano Saxophone - Jon Hiseman, Drums - Dave Greenslade, Organ, Percussion, Piano - Colosseum, Performance, MainArtist - James Litherland, Composer - Tony Reeves, Bass - Dave "Clem" Clempson, Guitar

2004 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company 1969 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company

3
Butty's Blues
00:06:44

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Soprano Saxophone - Jon Hiseman, Drums - Dave Greenslade, Organ, Percussion, Piano - Colosseum, MainArtist - Tony Reeves, Bass - Dave "Clem" Clempson, Guitar

2004 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company 1969 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company

4
The Machine Demands a Sacrifice
00:03:52

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Soprano Saxophone - Jon Hiseman, Drums - Dave Greenslade, Organ, Percussion, Piano - Colosseum, MainArtist - Tony Reeves, Bass - Dave "Clem" Clempson, Guitar

2004 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company 1969 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company

5
The Valentyne Suite: January's Search / February's Valentyne / The Grass Is Always Greener
00:16:53

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Soprano Saxophone - Jon Hiseman, Drums - Dave Greenslade, Organ, Percussion, Piano - Colosseum, MainArtist - Tony Reeves, Bass - Dave "Clem" Clempson, Guitar

2004 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company 1969 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company

6
Arthur's Moustache (Live: BBC Top Gear Broadcast 22/11/69)
00:06:30

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Soprano Saxophone - Jon Hiseman, Drums - Dave Greenslade, Organ, Percussion, Piano - Colosseum, MainArtist - Tony Reeves, Bass - Dave "Clem" Clempson, Guitar

2004 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company 1969 BBC licensed courtesy of BBC Worldwide to Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG company

7
Lost Angeles (Live: BBC Top Gear Broadcast 22/11/69)
00:08:38

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Soprano Saxophone - Jon Hiseman, Drums - Dave Greenslade, Organ, Percussion, Piano - Colosseum, MainArtist - Tony Reeves, Bass - Dave "Clem" Clempson, Guitar

2004 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company 1969 BBC. Licensed courtesy of BBC Worldwide to Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG company

DISC 2

1
Jumping Off the Sun (US Version)
00:03:34

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Saxophone - Jon Hiseman, Drums - Dave Greenslade, Organ, Vibraphone - Colosseum, MainArtist - James Litherland, Guitar - Tony Reeves, Bass - Dave "Clem" Clempson, Guitar, Vocals

2004 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company 1969 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company

2
Lost Angeles (US Version)
00:05:30

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Saxophone - Jon Hiseman, Drums - Dave Greenslade, Organ, Vibraphone - Colosseum, MainArtist - James Litherland, Guitar - Tony Reeves, Bass - Dave "Clem" Clempson, Guitar, Vocals

2004 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company 1971 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company

3
Elegy (US Version)
00:03:10

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Saxophone - Jon Hiseman, Drums - Dave Greenslade, Organ, Vibraphone - Colosseum, MainArtist - James Litherland, Composer, Guitar - Tony Reeves, Bass - Dave "Clem" Clempson, Guitar, Vocals

2004 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company 1969 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company

4
Butty's Blues (US Version)
00:06:43

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Saxophone - Jon Hiseman, Drums - Dave Greenslade, Organ, Vibraphone - Colosseum, MainArtist - James Litherland, Guitar - Tony Reeves, Bass - Dave "Clem" Clempson, Guitar, Vocals

2004 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company 1969 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company

5
Rope Ladder to the Moon (US Version)
00:03:42

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Saxophone - Jon Hiseman, Drums - Dave Greenslade, Organ, Vibraphone - Colosseum, MainArtist - James Litherland, Guitar - Tony Reeves, Bass - Dave "Clem" Clempson, Guitar, Vocals

2004 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company 1969 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company

6
Bolero (US Version)
00:05:27

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Saxophone - Jon Hiseman, Drums - Dave Greenslade, Organ, Vibraphone - Colosseum, MainArtist - James Litherland, Guitar - Tony Reeves, Bass - Dave "Clem" Clempson, Guitar, Vocals

2004 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company 1969 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company

7
The Machine Demands a Sacrifice (US Version)
00:02:49

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Saxophone - Jon Hiseman, Drums - Dave Greenslade, Organ, Vibraphone - Colosseum, MainArtist - James Litherland, Guitar - Tony Reeves, Bass - Dave "Clem" Clempson, Guitar, Vocals

2004 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company 1969 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company

8
The Grass Is Always Greener (US Version)
00:07:35

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Saxophone - Jon Hiseman, Drums - Dave Greenslade, Organ, Vibraphone - Colosseum, MainArtist - James Litherland, Guitar - Tony Reeves, Bass - Dave "Clem" Clempson, Guitar, Vocals

2004 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company 1969 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company

Album Description

One of England's prime jazz-rock -- or, more accurately, rock-jazz -- outfits, most of the members of Colosseum had apprenticed in blues bands, and it shows very strongly on some of the material here. Both "The Kettle" and "Butty's Blues" are essentially tarted-up 12-bar blues, although they work well in a grander context; in the latter case much grander, as a brass ensemble enters for the last part, drowning out everything but the guitar, an indication that this recording is in dire need of remastering. "Elegy" is a fast-paced, minor-key blues that stretches guitarist James Litherland's vocal abilities. Things do get far more interesting with "The Machine Demands a Sacrifice," which offers solo opportunities to organist Dave Greenslade and sax player Dick Heckstall-Smith before re-emerging in what can only be called a proto-industrial style, all heavily treated clattering percussion. The album's real joy comes with "The Valentyne Suite," which takes the band out of their bluesy comfort zone into something closer to prog rock. Bandleader Jon Hiseman is a stalwart throughout, his busy drumming and fills owing far more to jazz than the studied backbeat of rock. Greenslade proves to be a largely unsung hero, his only real solo in the suite something to offer a challenge to vintage Keith Emerson, but with swing. As to criticism, bassist Tony Reeves has very little flow to his playing, which severely hampers a rhythm section that needs to be loose-limbed, and Litherland's guitar playing is formulaic, which can be fine for rock, but once outside the most straightforward parameters, he seems lost. In retrospect this might not quite the classic it seemed at the time, but it remains listenable, and for much of the time, extremely enjoyable.
© Chris Nickson /TiVo

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