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Colosseum II


Review by Gary Hill

This is a new reissue of a classic album from the 1970s. The lineup here features Gary Moore on guitars, Don Airey on keyboards along with John Mole on bass and Jon Hiseman on drums. While Mole and Hiseman might not have the name recognition of the first two guys, they have all the chops to stand tall in this outfit. Only one song here has vocals (courtesy Moore). The music here ranges from classic hard edged prog to fusion and a lot in between. This edition has a nice booklet, and is a classy thing.

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Track by Track Review
Keyboards gradually rise up to bring this into being. It shifts to harder rocking stuff as the guitar creates power-chords to set the tone. Is shifts toward classical music, feeling a lot like Emerson, Lake and Palmer before driving forward with more hard rocking guitar based stuff. This continues to evolve from there. Around the two minute it drops back for the keyboards to bring in a new section. As the other instruments join, they take this out into some killer fusion. This thing has some great jamming for sure. More of that ELP stuff is heard near the end as this instrumental winds down.
Major Keys
Another cool fusion jam is underway here. I dig the guitar work on this track a lot, but then again everything works well. It has a great jazz groove to it. There is some pretty awesome jamming built into this beast.
Put It That Way
Another screaming hot jam, there is plenty of fusion built into this one, too. I really love some of the keyboard work on this tune.
Vocals open this with a real soulful sound, as the music drifts in mellow keyboard ways behind it. This is very much a jazz styled thing as it works forward. This remains fairly mellow for quite some time, with the arrangement not getting much augmentation for a while. It eventually gets more instruments added to the mix, but remains more of a jazz ballad than anything else.
Fighting Talk
This is more of a rock song. In fact, I would consider this almost mainstream rock and less prog and fusion. It's a killer cut that works really well. Gary Moore gets the chance to let his guitar really shine. There is some downright killer instrumental interplay from all involved, though.
The Inquisition
Fast paced and fiery rock music opens this. They work out through some smoking hot progressive rock jamming from there. Again this is to a large degree a Gary Moore showcase, but everyone really gets to show off here. There is a nice slightly dropped back section later in the track.
Star Maiden/Mysterioso/Quasar
This begins with a fairly mellow jazz jam. The slower pace and lower intensity create a great contrast to the powerhouse that preceded it. For the second movement they shift this thing to some powered up and intense jamming that lets Moore's guitar really shine. The closing section is more of a melodic, but still reasonably fast paced, prog jam. It's keyboard and rhythm section dominated, but features some nice guitar fills. A dramatic shift serves as the lead-in to a quick burst of sound that ends it.
Last Exit
Keyboards start this, making me think of the start of the opener. It works out to more powerhouse hard edged prog to carry forward. They move the piece forward with some triumphant sounding jamming before eventually fading things down to end.
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