Thursday, 27 October 2011

Colloseum II - Strange New flesh (1976)

Colosseum II Strange New Flesh album cover
This debut album of a newly reformed band was truly a progressive rock band to the corner! The music is a blend of jazz rock fusion in the vein of RETURN TO FOREVER ("Romantic Warrior" album, especially), GONG as well as classic rock music in the vein of JAMES GANG ("Bang", "Straight Shooter" albums, especially) and also TRAPEZE - Glenn Hughes era (Medusa album, especially) or TOMY BOLIN ("Teaser" album, especially) or collaboration work of Carmine APPICE, BOGART and Jeff BECK, or FRUMPY. But of course there are plenty of prog elements of their own that cannot be compared with others. The vocal quality of MIKE STARRS is similar to GLENN HUGHES with a more jazzy style. I find that each track has a very unique music style so that I need to comment one by one.

The opening track "Dark side of the Moog" blew me at fist listening. It has a dazzling and powerful keyboard / moog works combined with stunning guitar fills by Gary MOORE. Honestly, it was this track that cause me to buy the CD due to our local classic rock radio station M97 aired "The Dark Side of The Moog" sometime in 2000. This track has a full of energy and frequent changing tempos. The first half of the track is an upbeat, fast tempo music that reminds me to AL DI MEOLA early works ("Racing with the Devil .."?). When it reaches the middle of the track, suddenly the mmusic changes to a moderate tempo. Overall, I can sense bits of RETURN TO FOREVER and GONG. It's a powerful and uplifting instrumental track. The solo keyboard is really fascinating - played in a high speed and combined with great electric guitar. This is the DON AIREY and GARY MORE collaboration - their instruments dominate the track.

"Down to you" is a mellow track with melodic guitar fills. The music is heavily influenced by a blend of classic rock, jazz and classical music. It has a dazzling keyboard in the vein of Chick Corea plus unique voice of Mike Starr. It's definitely an enjoyable track.

The music then moves to an upbeat "Gemini and Leo" track - an interesting track whereby the music is heavily influenced by jazz, funky and rock; it reminds me to a song "Superstition" performed by Carmine Appice, Bogart & Jeff Beck; not in terms of similarities, but more on the nuances and energy. Even this track is much more energetic. MIKE STARR singing style in this track is really superb. For those of you who love classic rock, I assure you that you would definitely enjoy this track. The bass line by NEIL MURRAY is also excellent. At the concluding part of the track you will find an interesting short piece with a nice harmony. This track is killer!

"Secret places" is still performed in similar vein as previous track in relatively moderate tempo. I find the electric guitar solo is more in the vein of classic rock music but the singing style is in jazzy and funky style especially when it is accentuated by keyboard sounds. Overall, this track is composed in one tagline melody with moderate changing tempo.

"On second thoughts" intro almost reminds me to the intro of "Mean Mistreater" of GRAND FUNK RAILROAD - a classic rock band of the 70's. It has different melody though; in fact the music is totally different. It's a mellow and nice track with soft electric guitar touch at the opening part. Again, MIKE STARR singing style is excellent - accompanied with keyboard based music . This track is relatively popular in my country as it sometimes was aired in local classic rock radio station, M97. The electric guitar solo during interlude is fascinating. This track reminds me to "This Time Around" by Deep Purple. They are not the same but they s hare similar "nuances".

The concluding track "Winds" is really fabulous! This is really the final ecstasy of overall enjoyment pleasure listening to this album in its entirety. Opened with a fantastic solo drumming of Jon HISEMAN that reminds me to BILLY COBHAM (especially in the intro of "Stratus" where he collaborated with TOMY BOLIN) or STEVE GADD. Hey, I have been listening to the CD of this album eleven times before I write this review and I had no experience of getting bored even a little bit. And this track deserves high mark as it concludes overall presentation of the band in excellent manner. You name it, any instrument and vocal line performs excellently in this track. The bass line is so dynamic, accompanied with punching keyboard work and filled with electric guitar work plus .. dazzling drum works by Jon Hiseman. Mike Starrs voice is so powerful!!! Oh my friend .. I'm so speechless on how how should I comment about this wonderfully crafted track! BTW, I'm writing this review while listening to this track and it really moves up my emotion, positively! It's a very energetic and soulful track!

Well, what should I say with this album - especially having reviewed track by track? It's a masterpiece, my friend. Yeah .. it's a masterpiece! I don't mind to be blamed as being so naïve, but I TRULY believe that this album has been UNDER-RATED. It should have been considered as a LEGENDARY PROG ROCK album. The rationales are: it has very strong and tight composition, well structured melodies, optimum balance between melody and improvisation, great musicianship, excellent performance and .. excellent production. So, it's a FULL FIVE STAR rating for this album. I assure you that if you listen to this album, you will definitely give at least four star. It's impossible that you would rate less than 4 star, impossible! The band would not allow you to rate this album less than 4 star as they have produced a masterpiece album! Yes, I'm a neo prog lover and this kind of prog is actually not in my cup of tea. But, I have to be honest and fair that this album is wonderful! I can't wait to review the other two albums: "Electric Savage" and "War Dance" that I have in my collection as well. Oh man .. life is so beautiful with this kind of great prog music as this band has produced. COLOSSEUM II
Strange New Flesh music reviews and MP3 Recview from progarchives.com


Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Dark Side Of The Moog (6:17)
2.
Down To You (9:05)
3. Gemini And Leo (4:48)
4. Secret Places
(3:59)
5. On Second Thoughts (7:30)
6. Winds (10:23)

Total
Time: 42:02

Track listing of Castle 2CD remaster (2005):

Disc
1: (67:16)
1. Dark Side Of The Moog (6:17)
2. Down To You (9:05)
3.
Gemini And Leo (4:48)
4. Secret Places (3:59)
5. On Second
Thoughts (7:30)
6. Winds (10:23)
7. Castles Version 1. (previously
unreleased demo 1975)(11:09)
8. Gary's Lament (previously
unreleased demo 1975) (7:00)
9. Walking The Park (previously
unreleased demo 1975) (7:05)

Disc 2: (79:01)
1. Night Creeper
(previously unreleased demo 1976) (3:46)
2. The Awakening (previously
unreleased demo 1976) (11:43)
3. Siren Song (previously unreleased
demo 1976) (6:55)
4. Castles Version 2. (previously unreleased demo
1976) (5:00)
5. The Scorch (previously unreleased demo 1976) (4:39)
6.
Rivers (previously unreleased demo 1976) (4:27)
7. Interplanetary
Slut (previously unreleased demo 1976) (5:32)
8. Dark Side Of The
Moog (BBC session, In Concert, June 1976) (9:00)
9. Siren Song (BBC
session, In Concert, June 1976) (12:13)
10. The Awakening (BBC
session, In Concert, June 1976) (15:46)

Total Time: 146:17

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