Most helpful positive review
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
I am nothing short of amazed
on December 9, 2001
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.