George Starostin's Reviews



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sakal <> (18.06.2006)

Ahem. More from helpful me. Because you have enquired;

'Beware The Ides Of March'.... a slow romantic sax-based shuffle that hardly has anything in common with its title - nothing ominous or terrifying, actually, just a pretty sax melody that for some strange reason seems to me to be ripping off 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale' at certain places. Boy, I hate these dumb cross-references. Somebody phone Greenslade for me and ask him, please, whether I'm right in my suggestion.

No need, for I am at hand to inform you that BTIOM, when first released for review, was called "A Lighter Grade of Oil". I think that copyright issues probably decreed otherwise, so your remarks about the alternative title are both acute and perispicacious.

You also enquire;

I have not the least idea about what this 'suite' has to do with Valentynes and whether these guys really thought of the three parts as representing different stages of something.

Yes. February 14 - Valentine's Day - the patron saint of lovers. The suite (according to Mr Hiseman) represented the start, middle and end of a love affair.

Chris Farlowe. You say you have not heard "Out of Time" but it stinks. You are a silly boy. Hear it. And also "Handbags and Gladrags". You know, Farlowe, Burdon, Cocker and Morrison did not top the charts by being pretty boys. However I do not think he fitted Colosseum. By the way, Jagger sings backup on "Out of Time".


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jmmichalko <> (20.08.2005)

Hi George. My name is Jacek [Jack: being serious in english] - your Devoted Fan (oh sorry, it`s so loutish). I`m from Poland y`know - left from Russia watching the map.

Yeah, that small point! Or few. OK. So. A propos Colosseum. You wrote: Wipe the Kettle dry! in Leader. Weeeeeell? It doesn`t make sense AT ALL. Listen well and you`ll see. IMHO it`s s i m p l y WHY is the kettle dry ! and... Why is the vacant sky ...the Planet die ... etc. and ...You ain`t gonna like IT! Seems to my, these are cruel Childish questions!!!! Wipe the kettle - god! WHAT IS IT - to wipe the kettle - who do it? - YOU???! You can wipe the window pane, windscreen or your *** ,uhh, o! mind me my french, but...NOT KETTLE.


Darren Finizio <> (08.08.2003)

im listening to this album as i read your review...i always kinda liked the vocals on this album,it sounds like a soul singer trying something different and,well,i wish i could sing 1/4 this make so many judgements/assumptions on the character of someones voice rather than say you don't like it but then that would make you just another narrowminded critic..."doomsday" is a wonderful track,i think...this whole album sounds like very edgey,very passionate music to me,im impressed...progrock can be so good sometimes when the right people are doing it:king crimson,some early genesis,gong,hawkwind...ok,most progrock is pompous and souless,this lp surely is not...i got this album for 2 dollars at a thriftshop and every time i hear it i always marvel at the eclectic and heartfelt blend of really should check out the first uriah heep album,select miles davis(late 60s,early 70s),early larry coryell,sun ra,marion brown and the chapter series by gato barbieri...s earch and theres much jazz wich is simply good soulfull music as opposed to egoistic musical-auctioneering.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (11.07.2006)

Jazz rock fusion has a long and convoluted history - as long and complicated as heavy rock - and has sometimes been just as difficult to define, though I would say that it has been an extremely diverse creature. For a long time, the battle raged as to what exactly was fusion ? Was it rock played on instruments usually associated with jazz { not an altogether bizarre notion - after all, the piano and sax were the early dominant kingpins of rock and roll before the guitar seized control in the 60s } ? Was it simply jazz played on electric guitars and basses ? Was it horn sections welded onto rock pieces ? Or 'jazzy' songs played with electric pianos ? Was it jazz bands playing Beatle standards ? Was Hendrix jazz ? Was Charlie Watts rock ? What were Cream ? Questions, questions ! IMHO fusion was an evolution that developed slowly and steadilly in it's infancy before finding a fairly stable identity about eight years into it's life - say, about '75.There has been some great stuff since the mid 70s but I have a special fondness for the days of fusion's infancy for the very reason that it didn't have a specific identity......none of it's artists knew exactly what to make of it, whether it was a seasonal or a permanent genre, so the music splintered in a thousand different directions, most offering a fascinating take on the fusion of jazz and rock. It was kind of organic too, rather than wholly thought out or premeditated so the first 7 or 8 years featured lots of experimentation and fusions of many differing aspects. The number of musicians that passed through the first few years of fusion was comparatively tiny, yet, it was a genre that packed a mighty punch, encompassing a variety of styles {one could detect pop, soul, hard rock, the classics, gospel, blues, folk, Latin, African and Indian ingredients, to name a few and was one of the premier gates through which world music emerged }, races, nationalities {there were players from the US, the UK, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Austria, South Africa, France, Ireland, India, Brazil, Germany, Nigeria and other parts of West Africa, Japan, New Zealand, Argentina and other parts of South America, Holland, the West Indies,}, instruments and combinations of those instruments {both electric and acoustic - electric pianos really took off, the tones of guitars really took from rock and percussion in particular acquired a voice and status that IMO was unparallelled in modern music at the time, the synthesizer went through the stratosphere and all but rendered the mellotron and other fringe electronic keyboards obsolete for 25 years and nearly dealt a fatal blow to the organ, ethnic instruments from different countries also gained semi respectability, violins and other classical instruments were liberated }, ages and generations {you had old guys like Miles Davis and Stephanne Grappelli on the one hand and teenagers like Stanley Clarke on the other, plus some significant women like Flora Purim, Barbara Thompson, Pauline Wilson, Patrice Rushen,Tequila and Barbara Bourton}, mindsets, degrees of daring and a bringing together, in particular, of Black and White young people. Even Stevie Wonder created some authentic fusion {on SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE} as did Frank Zappa {PIQUANTIQUE} and Jeff Beck { BLOW BY BLOW, WIRED}. Colusseum featured in this first wave.

As a side note, fusion developed both in the States and the UK, but arguably, the British influence was the greater in it's embryonic stage because few, if any, of the young American jazzers found themselves willing to play pop or rock, whereas a plethora of their British counterparts became established in the music world through it. They were surprizingly the more versatile, with pop, rock and blues being the common language. In 1989 Jack Bruce said that he felt that ultimately fusion failed, because the jazz players looked down on rock and kind of felt it was beneath them......ultimately. But it should also be remembered that many of these players on both sides of the Atlantic were of the same generation and were moved by many of the same notions and as early as '64, the young drummer Tony Williams { one of THE prime movers in fusion's development } was telling Miles Davis { whose band he was in at the time } that they should be playing Beatle numbers - quite a bold move for a hip Black teenager at the time.

Jon Hiseman replaced Ginger Baker in the Bond organisation { so called, because Bond had switched from sax to the organ } and he and the late Dick Heckstall Smith also played together with John Mayall. Jazz and blues were so much part of their system - but so was rock and pop and Hiseman had a cute vision of how the musics that he liked could be fused. That all said, DAUGHTER OF TIME is probably the least jazzified of their early stuff, being more akin to the newly solidifying progressive rock of the day. I tend to think of progressive rock as a close cousin of fusion, anyway. That this album and Colosseum in general veered towards the pop and prog rockier end of things isn't unusual, it was a genre that itself had gone in so many directions and I'd say that they were one of the fusioneers that did the most to de-mystify jazz. With alot of fusion, it was almost impossible to tell what was composed and what was improvised and to most fusion bands' credit, not just anything went. Jon Hiseman says of this album that it was the first that had no songs that were written on the road, it was crafted in the studio. A song that was neither crafted nor even recorded there is TIME MACHINE which came from a gig at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Judging from the start of the piece {one can hear some wild organ} it may have been part of a longer track but all we get is the 8 minute drum solo. Most of the time, I really can't stand them. Most of the ones I've witnessed live have been thrilling and exciting but they wouldn't have been something that I want to listen to for the rest of my days......but this one is good. Sixteen years after first hearing it, I still like it, it's vibrant, energetic and quite inventive. I saw Jon Hiseman on telly a few months back lamenting the fact that coz he was not black, he couldn't swing with panache like jazz drummers and that jazz was an American art form so the Brits could never really get there. On both counts I say PFAFFLE !! British jazz was great and quirky and so much more open and without the British, fusion wouldn't have happened like it did. As for his drumming, I'm happy to listen to his hard working style. It was skilful, realistic and accessible. As are the songs in general. BRING OUT YOUR DEAD is a snappy organ drenched instrumental. Pieces without words/vocals can be so difficult to carry off convincingly, or so I used to think. But here everything is concise, which is important. There's also an easilly followable melody and even in those parts where the instruments go their own way, there's a cohesion about it all and throughout, some neat unison playing. Dick Heckstall-Smith's solo saxes open the song DOWNHILL AND SHADOWS. He was pretty skilled at playing two saxes simultaneously and he does to good effect here before the band launch into a very sterotypyed bluesy piece. It's a great song with a nice brass riff and lots of well placed guitar licks punctuating. It would be be a rather laid back song were it not for the fact that it's done in a really agonized way, tortuous almost. Oh yeah, and the vocals ! I must admit, I've always liked Chris Farlowe's singing on this album, though it is a bit operatic. A funny thing happened the other week; I'd recently re-read the review of the record and as I was driving, over the radio came this quiz {this was just before the start of the world cup} and the question was, who was number one in the British charts when England won the world cup in '66 ? They then played a snatch of the song and I was thinking to myself 'this singer is woeful, someone should have shot him to put him out of his - and our - misery' and then I heard him sing the words 'out of time' and I thought 'oh no, it can't be him...' coz I knew Chris Farlowe had had a hit with a Jagger-Richard song of the same name sometime in the 60s. I didn't know when, neither had I ever heard it. And sure enough..........So though I think he's ok as a vocalist here, I do have some sympathy for George's feelings about his singing. Hiseman liked his singing but feels that the English public never took to him coz he was seen as a pop singer who had had a couple of hits in the 60s. Anyway, back to the song, there's good interplay between the guitar and sax on one hand and the bass {there are two different bassists on the album, Mark Clarke and Louis Cemmano} and drums on the other. Actually, the drumming is pretty busy and spritely for a blues, but this makes it more listenable, makes me look at what Hiseman is actually doing and how it meshes in with the song. He may not think much of his playing, but I think he was a mighty fine drummer. On a tour with Deep Purple, it is whispered that Purple insisted Colosseum play a 40 minute set....with no drum solos ! Apparently Ian Paice didn't want the competition {Though one of heavy rock's finest, lengthy drum solos were not the best use of his considerable assets}.THEME FROM AN IMAGINARY WESTERN I always thought was overly dramatic song the way Colosseum do it but it has grown on me down the years. It's kind of straightforwardly played with some mean Farlowe wailing and very emphatic drums. It's basically about all the bands that used to trek all over the country trying to make it big. Hiseman liked the version by Mountain but always maintained that the original by Jack Bruce was the best one.TAKE ME BACK TO DOOMSDAY is a lovely piece, a seemingly nostalgic look back at a bygone time when "poor people prayed for the grace of God" and "Lancelot fought for the grail" in "the courts of kings" and life "was ridden at the pace of a snail" while "the long hot summers of youth were golden". It manages to somehow capture a feel that really evokes the 13th century or something while being some great great progressive jazz rock. It's got this fantastic free form section of sax, flute {played by Hiseman's future wife Barbara Thompson}, piano, guitar slashings, bass and drums. They all come together in a hefty way, a melodic melange that kind of repeats in the runout, initially over Clem Clempson's guide vocal that was left in. It's actually one of the best vocals on the album. Some great ensemble playing, but never boring, just clever and short. All the elements combine to make a unique sound. I can't help feeling though, that it's not really nostalgic. In fact I think it's quite a scathing attack on the way people in the past were seen as pretty disposable. So it works on two levels, sounding all starry eyed and winsome, while being couched in anger. THREE SCORE AND TEN, AMEN is a perhaps more straightforward rocker but no less interesting. The refrain makes the overall tone quite cynical, but when put into the overall theme of the album {man's fascination with war down the ages} it sort of fits. It also has some creepy bits, like the late Dick Heckstall-Smith's voice speaking in the quieter but building to a climax passage. He sounds like he's coming from beyond the grave...There's some nice trade offs between the guitar and sax and the overall drama and angry words make for one superb {and singable} song and it's ending is magnificent, something that it shares with both TIME LAMENT and DAUGHTER OF TIME. I must admit, I'm a sucker for a good ending. I'll even tolerate an average, nay, a lame song, if it's got a great ending. TIME LAMENT is inventive from the opening few strains as we hear in the first 60 seconds, four quite brilliant movements involving horns and strings, including one scrapey violin/cello bit. I remember right around the same time I bought this album, I bought one by a band called Lysis {actually, it wasn't clear whether the band or the album was called Lysis} as I was expanding my jazzy horizons at the time and I was attracted by the line up of violin, bass and drums and I just love violins. But not the way this gang played them. It wasn't music as such, in the conventional sense, just noises and the violinist in particular simply strengthened my distaste for a violin that isn't played like a violin. It was bad enough when my sister was learning it, though she did get better. But these guys just scraped and whined and made atonal, discordant noises that frankly made my nerves crawl. Other avant garde and even some classical violinists have done that to my nerves. But this song shows that those twisty, scrapey sounds not only can be used to good and dramatic effect, they can also be sonically enchanting and melodically pleasant. This song changes time, mood, pace and structure so much in it's six minutes on the earth, you'd have to say it lived the fullest of lives and it's runout, as stated earlier is brilliant, especially that mad skipping bass and those hopping, jumping drums. I would say it has the best ending on the album, to cap a great number, were it not for the shortest track on this, the title track. It's a two parter that begins as an odd little instrumental where most of the album's instruments shine in fantastic short bursts, before launching into the dramatic vocal with an ominous drum rumble.The lyrics are sheer poetry for me, reminiscent of a group of kids I used to work with and the wonderful and challenging times we had {"And I saw the daughter of time/through the lens of a dream/reflecting the world/as it seems to have been/riding the night-with a handful of stars/her spirit is truth/and her truth is ours..."}. The song is as ever well backed up by Heckstall-Smith, Greenslade, Clempson, the particular bassist and Jon the drummer and while the verse is sung, the musicians just seem to ambling along while the 'legendary R&B shouter' struts his stuff, but this is brilliantly deceptive coz really, they're cleverly stoking the fire gently. When the words finish, they let rip , Clempson in particular knocking out a grand set of licks that run from high to low, with Hiseman going berserk in a most controlled way and Heckstall-Smith punching out the three note riff with great restraint and verve.

I have to say that the overall sound and the way the lyrics are made to scan really adds this othertimely as opposed to otherworldly quality to the album. Jon Hiseman recognized that the public were soon to be leaving this kind of music behind which is a shame in a way coz I think Colosseum made jazz seem like nothing elite and highbrow, were an important {but rarely, if ever, credited} cog in what was then an emerging progressive wheel, had a pop sensibility {Hiseman loved rock and pop - if it sounded good, he liked it, that was his credo} and somehow managed to combine it in an accessible way. While not the jazziest thing they did nor their best received, perhaps up to this point it best represented all that was great about about that fertile musical period that was leaving the 60s behind and even more, in which bands tried to chart their own courses. And if the outcome outweighed the attempt, so what ? We still have the music and it still bites.


David Lindley <> (29.06.2003)

If you think the album is good ..then you should have been there like I was!

Jur Snijder <> (18.12.2005)

Right on the mark, George. This is seriously hot stuff. The live album is the only one from Colosseum I have, that and the memories of a concert in Amsterdam many years ago with the same line-up. I recently watched the DVD of the 1994 Cologne concert and found it a bit uncomfortable to watch, they were straining themselves to get back into that same groove, but didn't quite manage it. And Farlowe, well, Farlowe hasn't aged particularly well, if you know what I mean...

Anyway, back in 1971 they weren't so much busy with hitting the right notes as with making the right music, and I have to say that these guys had what it takes. The instrumental prowess on display is quite impressive, Jon Hiseman of course is a masterful drummer from the Keith Moon school of 'I paid for all this kit so I'm damn well going to use it too' and plays more notes in one gig than Ringo Starr played in his lifetime, but it never becomes obtrusive and he is indeed the engine that drives the band forward. Dave Greenslade is a subtle but fast keyboard player and does some fairly unspeakable things with his Hammond when given the chance (try 'Rope Ladder' or 'Lost Angeles'). Mark Clarke is OK on bass, but then any bass player would struggle to keep up with Hiseman I guess. Dick Heckstall-Smith is a bit of an icon in the jazz-rock world, I believe, but I must admit that I don't think he is all that outstanding here, a bit wooden in fact, and his gimmick with playing two saxes at the same time may distract him more from the music than is good for him (and us).

And then there is Farlowe... I can tell from your review that you have a bit of a soft spot for the guy, lol! Actually, he isn't doing too badly on this album, and seeing that this is in all likelihood the only time the guy will ever figure in my music collection I can live with him, just for curiosity sake of course (even though he pretty much ruins 'Rope Ladder to the Moon'). I did make a note to self never to buy a house next to him, though, in case he practices his singing under the shower.

But the real marvel on this record is of course David Clempson. Why has nobody ever heard of this guy? His soloing is absolutely first class, with a tone that can be smooth as silk or piercing as steel, his solo's come with great build-ups and climaxes, it is all wonderfully wailing and screaming, bluesy to the core but rocking like crazy - fantastic! Miles better than Jeff Beck and every bit as good as Clapton, say I. His solo in Skelington is top-notch blues work, 'Stormy Monday Blues' sees him taking off like a screaming jet fighter, but the real marvel is what he does in 'Lost Angeles', and if you are ever looking for the right music to accompany some steamy lovemaking than this is it - you've got 20 minutes from warm-up to climax and I can guarantee you that you'll never forget it!

On the whole these guys showed the world, for a brief moment, what you can do when you start with Blues, mix in some Jazz and aim to Rock. Yes, the songs are long and jammy, but never boring and there is in fact a lot of intricate structure to them that isn't all that obvious at first. Colosseum didn't last long, and maybe just as well, but I'm glad we can still listen to it. Superb, and an easy 10 for this live album. Now, all this happened just a year after Leeds, and if it wasn't for Farlowe, hmm...


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