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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Colosseum

Colosseum Live

Review by Gary Hill

This new release is a deluxe reissue of an old album from Colosseum. There is a second CD with bonus tracks and to some degree, I think I like that disc better. The mix of sounds here from bluesy rock to jazz and prog is cool, and the performances are all strong.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD One: Colosseum Live
        
Rope Ladder to the Moon
Hard rocking, this scorcher has some cool shifts and changes. I love the horns on it. The whole thing is screaming hot. It's part prog rock, part psychedelic and all cool. The keyboard solo movement later in the track is awesome, too.
Walking in the Park
There is definitely a lot of jazz in the mix here. This is another energized rocking tune. The keyboards and horns lend a lot to this thing. There is a vocal workout later that features scat and call and response. It's a really fiery display. The music rises up to stand tall against it, too. They pump up the tempo as they work out from there. Then it gets brought back down in a stomping resolution.
Skellington
The Allman Brothers meets a smoking hot fusion band in this jam. You might also notice some hints to Cream here. There is some scorching guitar soloing on this thing. This piece is almost fifteen minutes long, and a big chunk of that time is occupied by some real powerhouse jamming. There is so much jazz in this thing. There are some vocal acrobatics at the end of this tune, too.
I Can't Live Without You
Speaking of Cream, this one really makes me think of that group, but with a lot of prog and jazz in the mix. There is an extended jam with some serious emphasis on keyboard work.
Tanglewood '63
There is so much jazz in this. Scat singing dances around the song in a killer arrangement. This is a quirky and quite tasty piece of music that has keyboard soloing, horns and more. In some ways this feels to me like something that might have been at home in the soundtrack to "Hair" or "Godspell." The unaccompanied horn solo brings some serious jazz to it. While this is chock-full of vocal work, none of it is lyrical.
Encore... Stormy Monday Blues
This is (as the title suggests) a bluesy tune. I like this one a lot. It's perhaps not very proggy, but it does have some great jazz leanings. It's also full of killer character and charm. There is a weird little bit at the end.
Lost Angeles
Keyboards start things here. The cut works forward from there. If you've wondered whether this is really prog rock or not, this cut should convince you. It's packed full of killer shifts and changes. Yes, it's still set in that kind of psychedelically tinged sound. It's full on prog, though. There are so many turns and powerful movements. This thing is very extensive and just plain amazing.
CD Two; Bonus Tracks
                   

Rope Ladder to the Moon

Here we get another live take of the song that opened the album proper. If anything, I think I might like this version better than the other one. It really seems to be on fire. There is some killer drum work, and the whole thing just seems to be powered up and intense.

Skellington
Another repeater, this one is pretty hot here, too. They drop this thing into some seriously spacey trippy stuff for a while. Again, I think I might like this better than the other version.
I Can't Live Without You / Time Machine / The Machine Demands a Sacrifice -
Here is another we got on the first disc - well at least at the start. They put in an inspired performance here. This has a serious drum solo. I'm not a big fan of drum solos, though, and this one doesn't do much to change that opinion. It's too long for me.
Stormy Monday Blues
Another repeat visitor, this thing is a killer blues tune in this format.
The Valentyne Suite: I. January's Search, II. Theme Two - February's Valentyne, III Theme Three - the Grass Is Greener
Just like the other CD, this one ends with the most purely prog thing of the CD. I'd say this one is even more fully progressive rock than that CD's closer was. This thing has so much classical structure built into it. It's a real powerhouse. In fact, this might be the best thing on the whole double disc set.
 
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