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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2001
Format: Audio CD
The first Colosseum album I got was Daughter of Time, and I was less than pleased with that one. So I was so turned off by the band that I never bought anything from them for over five years. But once I got a hold of Valentyne Suite, released in 1969, regarded by many to be their best one, I was so amazed that this album deserves the five stars. Listening to this album, it's really hard to believe that this band actually stemmed from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, you can tell these guys set their ambitions really high here. Colosseum is unlike a lot of prog rock bands of the time, since here they tend to the blues and jazz spectrum. The album starts off with "The Kettle" which is actually surprisingly a heavy prog rock cut. Next, "Elegy" is a totally amazing cut demonstrating the band's jazzy side. "Butty's Blues" is, as the song title suggests, a bluesy number, but the jazz here comes from Chicago or Blood, Sweat & Tears-like horns. "The Machine Demands A Sacrifice" starts off somewhat similar to "The Kettle" but then it really goes off the deep end with the percussion and psychedelic electronic effects. And of course the title track which demonstrates the band's talents in a three movement suite. That last movement, "The Grass is Always Greener" is nothing short of a stroke of genius. The music just keeps building up intensity to points that I am in total disbelief. When Jon Hiseman is regarded as one of the finest drummers in the jazz rock world, this album really proves that. Saxist Dick Heckstall-Smith, just like Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Van der Graaf Generator's David Jackson, and Osanna's Elio D'Anna, often had a habit of playing more than one sax at once, and you'll notice that one some of the cuts on the album. This was unfortunately the last album to feature James Litherland and Tony Reeves. When they left, ex-Bakerloo and future Humble Pie guitarist Dave "Clem" Clempson, bassist Mark Clarke, and vocalist Chris Farlowe stepped, and recorded the less than remarkable (at least to me) Daughter of Time.This here goes for the vinyl collectors:Colosseum's first two albums were seriously butchered when released in the United States on the ABC/Dunhill label. The US version of the debut, Those About to Die Salute You (which features a totally different cover than the UK version on Fontana) actually features some material on Valentyne Suite, as well as material from the UK album. The second album was called The Grass Is Greener (exact same cover as Valentyne Suite, except for the printed title) in the US which not only features the remaining material from Valentyne Suite (but partly re-recorded with new member Dave "Clem" Clempson), but material not released on any of their UK albums (such as "Lost Angeles"). Also of note, the original UK Valentyne Suite LP is a historic album for it marked the first album to ever be released on the Vertigo label. But the album I am reviewing is indeed the CD reissue of Valentyne Suite released on Castle (that wrongly gives a 1972 date, which was the year this album was reissued on Bronze, the label Colosseum moved to after Daughter of Time).So in conclusion, if you love your prog rock on the jazzy and bluesy side, you are sure to love this album.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2000
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This album is simply stunning. There is a moodiness that is truly original and classic. The sound is kind of like that of Traffic's on "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" but much faster. I cannot think of band that plays or write like this currently. The only comparison that even comes close is The Dave Matthews Band. The fluidity of playing on this album is incredible. I had not heard Valentyne Suite for 25 years and then I found it at Amazon. I am so stoked that this album is available again! It is a must for anyone interested in early Jazz-Rock fusion.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 1999
Format: Audio CD
This album represents one of the best of my generation: it's cool and full of fantasy, atmosphere, sensation, energy... I think no band today can express those old, good-time, feeling.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2001
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I confirm the opinion of the reviewer from Ramona. This is indeed a masterpiece (if you look at my other reviews, I don't give away 5 stars easily)! Rather than comparing VS to Traffic's "Low spark of high heeled boys" the Chicago Live at Carnegie Hall triple CD springs to mind. The latter was also recorded in 1969 and offers a similar Jazz-Rock fusion with great Saxophon. Dave Greenslade on the Hammond organ knocks you out as well. This kind of music is not made anymore - what a pity! Be careful to buy the Castle Music recording (the Essential Records recording of Valentine Suite apparently has poor sound quality)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
If you have this CD (and the other cd's of the original COLOSSEUM band that predate the LIVE album) and are anxiously awaiting the July 5th release of the GRASS IS GREENER cd.....I have great news!!!

Disregard the previews description of the GRASS contents that claims MOST of the tracks are not available on the other CD's.......

REALITY: ALL of the songs tracks on that selection are already on this 2CD set....

So save your hard earned Money.....Unless you are a completist and just want the cover art.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 26, 2009
Format: Audio CD
This remastered 2-disc set by Sanctuary includes the excellent Valentyne Suite (1969) (Disc 1) and the US release of the album The Grass is Greener (1970) (Disc 2). This set is not too shabby and features good sound quality, liner notes that may be of interest to folks not familiar with the group, and tiny photos of the group.

Valentyne Suite (****½)

This 1969 release presents a very exciting mixture of classical, heavy British blues rock, jazz and psychedelic rock, and demonstrates how the psychedelic groups were becoming more sophisticated, especially in terms of the level of musicianship. Unfortunately, this album and group seem to have fallen through the cracks, which is too bad - this is a pretty good example of the proto-progressive style and its influences turn up on some of the debut albums by the English progressive acts.

The lineup includes bandleader and virtuoso drummer/percussionist Jon Hiseman, Tony Reeves (bass guitar), Dave Greenslade (organ, vibes), Dick Heckstall-Smith (saxophones), and James Litherland (electric guitar, lead vocals). While some of the psychedelic outfits active at the time had great drummers, Jon Hiseman really raised the bar. Dave Greenslade was no slouch either and his organ playing is impressive throughout. Lastly, Dick Heckstall-Smith was a very jazzy player and borrowed the technique of playing two saxophones at once from jazzer Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

The album is split between four shorter tracks and the lengthy Valentyne Suite (it clocks in at a little over 16 minutes). While I enjoy the shorter tracks, which blend aspects of heavy British blues rock, jazz, and psychedelic rock together, it is the three part suite that really holds my interest. The suite is actually pretty cohesive and my favorite parts include the haunting, classically influenced passages, which feature some great Hammond organ work by Dave Greenslade. He really used the organ to its fullest extent on the suite and could make it alternately growl and sound like a pipe organ. Overall, this is a thrilling and early example of the multi-movement suite.

The two bonus tracks on Disc 1 are OK and were recorded live on the Top Gear show.

The Grass is Greener (***)

Released shortly after The Valentyne Suite, The Grass is Greener includes a few tracks from the Valentyne Suite and tracks written with new member guitarist/vocalist Dave Clempson (the lineup was the same, with this single exception). While the album is not bad overall, and presents a nice blend of jazz, psychedelic rock and heavy British blues, I have to admit that I was not completely bowled over - it is much heavier and the "artiness" that made the Valentyne Suite album so enjoyable is not present. While the new tracks are not too bad, Bolero does not work well at all from a composition perspective. I also feel that breaking up the three "movement" Valentyne Suite was not such a hot idea - as it appears on the album, The Grass is Greener (third "movement") just seems to hang in space. Overall, while there are some cool moments here and there, along with some decent playing, this album is neither as cohesive, nor imaginative as the Valentyne Suite.

All in all, the Valentyne Suite is an exciting listen and might be considered a good example of the proto-progressive style. For those folks that are interested, the offshoot projects including Greenslade (Dave Greenslade and Tony Reeves) and Colosseum II (Jon Hiseman) are also good and worth checking out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This is a great CD to just zone into. If you like great rock musicians just being as such, check this out. The drumming is phenomenal. I used to love this album and have happily re-introduced myself after 25 years. You can't beat the old bands.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Before Chris Farlowe joined this band on Daughter of Time, this band was a progressive blues unit, Dick Haskell Smith and others in the Colosieum working with Jack Bruce and John Mayall.

Someone very smart must have heard how good these guys were, because they were in the first round of bands signed to the new beeming Vertigo Records in 1969. (Blue Ribbon for anyone who can name the others)

These guys play blues inflected with jazz and hard rock. "The Kettle" kicks the doors down with its crunch. "Walking In The Park" is more straight jazz blues, but played with rock hunger. Things get more sophistacated with the title track, which is a long art rock piece that mixes many parts, but has more to do with the same blues and jazz cornerstones than the classical pretense that later infected art rock.

All of this is great. This band goes a lot of ways, but wherever you follow, you will never loose.
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on October 19, 2014
Format: Audio CD
Colosseum is a band I only know a little about, based entirely on two live albums (Colosseum Live from '71 being the most obvious- GREAT album this one is, and a live album from '05 I bought a couple years ago that is apparently somewhat rare and I'm not even sure if it's listed on amazon anymore). Well how about the bands studio albums? How about the Valentyne Suite?

Well it's awesome of course! The entire 17-minute suite is especially notable because of its relentless display of instrumental prowess. Colosseum just has this way of being exceptionally boisterous with their jams which makes the band very sufficient. They don't beat around the bush that's for sure! It makes their jams different from say, an Allman Brothers Band or Traffic jam to name a couple examples, where often times you have to allow a build-up of instrumental playing to take place.

While the suite is split into 3 different pieces, I like to blend them all together and consider the entire piece one whole jam. It just works better that way. Expect melodic and outrageous keyboard work to ferociously take the cake reminiscent of the Nice perhaps, with bits of melodic Van Der Graaf Generator-like saxophone and vibraphone in between. My favorite part is 7 minutes in when these haunting chants come in. This part occurs in such a way that fits in flawlessly with the surrounding instrumental work so as not to feel clunky or tacky or anything. Makes me think of myself searching for a secluded forest graveyard in a rainstorm and not being able to find it as the feeling of dread grows stronger. This particular part reminds me of a part near the end of Procol Harum's "In Held Twas In I" suite in terms of dreariness. Anyway this entire jam is a LOT to take in so I'm sure it will only get better the more I play it.

"Butty's Blues" is a strange tune. It's actually more jazz than blues based on the vocal melody and the saxophone work. The sax is the best part about it I think- the vocal melody doesn't strike me as anything great, but the saxophone makes it listenable. Perhaps it will grow on me more one day. The keyboard work has all kinds of potential in the beginning but it soon takes a back seat to the vocals and sax. "The Kettle" is entirely different from the rest of the album. It's based around a heavy guitar riff and fast rhythm with vocals not much different from something the Monkees would sing. Great frantic guitar solo too. "The Machine Demands a Sacrifice" is groovy in a psychedelic Cream kind of way with a brief but memorable keyboard jam in the middle when the pace oddly slows down. "Elegy" has similar rhythm and mood to "The Machine Demands a Sacrifice" with perhaps a slightly better vocal melody since it's jazzier. Enjoyable saxophone solo too.

Overall a really amazing album. It's actually in the same league as Colosseum's live '71 album in terms of tight jamming material. I highly recommend the Valentyne Suite!
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on January 7, 2015
Format: Audio CD
The original vinyl US release of "Those Who Are About to Die Salute You" included the original version of the Valentyne Suite - and not the putrid version included here and in seemingly all subsequent releases. The original suite ended with "The Ides of March," now offered as a separate 5-minute tune on current releases of "Those Who Are About to Die."

I've searched high and low - and spent some good money - for a digital version of the original suite, but to no avail. I finally mixed the two versions into one which closely resembles the original release. It's too bad - the original version was absolutely fantastic!

The original US-release title of this album was "The Grass is Greener", and included the title track penned by the late, great Dick Heckstall-Smith. This is now featured at the end of the 16+ minute tune here. You don't have to listen closely to hear the edit point - it's pretty obvious (and sloppy).

Colosseum is a great band - but wish they'd left their tunes in the original - and pristine - format.
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Daughter of Time by Colosseum (Audio CD - 2004)

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