Colosseum - Colosseum are probably one of the most influential jazz/blues/rock bands to have ever come out of the UK. Their roots go back to September 1968 when they were formed by Hiseman, Greenslade, Heckstall-Smith, guitarist Jim Roche and bassist Tony Reeves, with most of the members coming from either Graham Bond's band or John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Roche left the following year (he later featured with East of Eden), and he was replaced by guitarist James Litherland (Edward's Hand). This line-up recorded their debut album, " Those who are about to die, salute you", on Fontana Records, in March of 1969. The album was an amazing hybrid of avant-garde jazz, blues and progressive rock and it reached the UK top 20. The follow-up album, felt by many to be their best, was the famous "Valentyne Suite". This album, apart from being an important milestone in British blues/rock history, was also famous for the fact that it was the very first album to be released on the Vertigo label, it's catalogue number being VO 1. Soon after its release, Litherland left to form Mogul Thrash with bassist John Wetton and future Average White Band members Roger Ball and Malcolm Duncan. His replacement was Dave 'Clem' Clempson, ex-Bakerloo. Tony Reeves also left, his replacement being Mark Clarke. Veteran R&B vocalist Chris Farlowe joined at this time. Which brings us to our featured album, which, sadly, proved to be their final studio offering. They also moved to Bronze Records at this stage, and they released their awesome double live album in 1971. The band unfortunately split at the end of that year without ever recording a studio album for the label, who wasted no time in putting out the compilation "Collector's Colosseum" album that same year. The various members went on to various solo and group projects: Dave Greenslade formed his own band, Greenslade, with Tony Reeves (They're back together in the reformed Greenslade. Look out for the write-up of their new album, "Large Afternoon", in our new releases section, this week). Clem Clempson went on to join Humble Pie, replacing Peter Frampton. Mark Clarke joined fellow Bronze Records stablemates Uriah Heep, Chris Farlowe joined Vincent Crane in Atomic Rooster, Dick Heckstall-Smith released a solo album and Jon Hiseman later formed Tempest with Mark Clarke, Allan Holdsworth, Paul Williams and Ollie Halsall before forming the more fusion orientated Colosseum 2 with Gary Moore. Jumping forward to the mid-to-late nineties, the "classic" Colossuem line-up reformed and released a live reunion album. They sounded as if they'd never been apart! Class through and through from a bunch of seasoned professionals. A few years later, our giveaway CD was released and the band were touring Germany and the UK. The circle had turned. 
  

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Biography by Steven McDonald
While Colosseum lasted only a little more than three years, producing five albums in that time, they made a great impression on the blooming subgenre of progressive rock, first with the energetic jazz- and blues-influenced Those Who Are About to Die Salute You, with its unusual chord progressions and variant song structures, and then with the epic Valentyne Suite. The title track of Valentyne Suite, a 17-minute composition, pushed keyboardist Dave Greenslade to the forefront of the band and into the spotlight of progressive music, a position he was increasingly uneasy with over the years. Drummer Jon Hiseman, on the other hand, gradually moved towards the jazz fusion area. Colosseum began to undergo personnel shifts with their third album, Grass Is Greener, with everyone calling it quits upon the departure of Greenslade in 1971. In 1975, Hiseman formed Colosseum II, but this time the mandate was firmly jazz fusion. 

 

Chris Farlowe
Dave Greenslade
Mark Clarke
Dave "Clem" Clempson
Dick Heckstall-Smith
Jon Hiseman
James Litherland
Tony Reeves
Jim Roche

Graham Bond
Manfred Mann Chapter Three
Humble Pie
Gentle Giant
Blue Cheer
Vanilla Fudge
Cream

If you have any contribution to make to this band or something to add, email me - Japie Marais.

 

 

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Colosseum - 1969 - Those Who Are About to Die Salute You - 3/5

Colosseum - 1969 - Valentyne Suite - 4/5

Colosseum - 1970 - Daughter of Time - 2/5

Colosseum - 1970 - Grass Is Greener - 4/5

Colosseum - 1971 - Live - 2.5/5

Colosseum - 1997 - Reunion Concerts 1994 - 4/5

Colosseum - 1998 - Breads & Circuses - 4/5

Colosseum - 1998 - colosseum Live - 2.5/5

Rating

 

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