(All Album Reviews by Burgess Penguin)
Dave Greenslade-Hammond Organ, Vibes
Dick Heckstall Smith-Multiple Saxophones
Mark Clarke-Bass, Vocals
Dave "Clem" Clempson-Guitar, Vocals
Chris Farlowe-Lead Vocals
Dare I say that there's enough raw energy in this Colosseum Live disc to level a decent sized city? One listen may well prompt a loud resounding YES!!! It's about as subtle as a 747 gunning its engines in your front yard, and that is a good thing.
This live set was taped on a particularly good night even though the band didn't think so at the time (they almost erased the tape according to Jon Hiseman).
The set starts off witha dramatic reworking of a Jack Bruce song, "Rope Ladder To The Moon," in which vocalist Chris Farlowe really does take it to the moon, after which Jon Hiseman and Dave Greenslade engage in a lively exchange of firey polyrythms and snarling, growling organ, and then to a rousing conclusion.
"Walking In The Park" is a Graham Bond blues that at times threatens to blow itself apart. Just as you think the band is going to lose control of the song, they grab it by the horns and take it into the home stretch. DHS lets fly with his trademark double saxophone one-man-horn section pyrotechnics to great effect.
"Skellington" however, doesn't fare quite as well in the Prog-Blues proposition. It certainly has great riffing and gritty delivery, but what mars it are a lot of pointless histrionics by Chris Farlowe and an over-long psychedelic noisefest by Dave Clempson. Without those two things, this could've been a classic Colosseum track. As they say on Get Smart, "Missed it by that much".
"I Can't Live Without You" is definitely the throwaway track, it's not bad as such, it just doesn't really grab you by the throat either.
Thankfully though, the lull is broken by "Tanglewood '63," an energetic, complex multilayered piece that makes incredible use of the band's vocal as well as instrumental firepower. DHS gets a chance to shine with his unaccompanied one-man-horn section cadenza (just boggles the mind how he pulled that off, they didn't have harmonizers and digital effects back in 1971).
"Stormy Monday Blues" gets the full Colosseum treatment with everone doing their darndest to add a new twist to this time-honored blues chestnut. This was a number that the band made it a point NEVER to rehearse, but you'd never know it by hearing it's tight execution.
And the musical thrill ride ends up in the smog laden landscape of "Lost Angeles," truly a Colosseum classic! From the opening roar and snarl of Dave Greenslade's Hammond C-3 organ, you know it's time to batten down the hatches and strap in for a harrowing thrill ride! From there, the band locks into tight blues drenched riffing as Chris Farlowe tells his tale of woe in the Smog Belt. The band's turn on a dime tempo and dynamic changes are on full display here, going from a full roar, to a quieter section with smoky vibes and Chris Farlowe's improvised plaintive singing, giving way to a stark, achingly bluesy solo by Dave Clempson that reaches a screaming climax as the band brings it all to a grand conclusion, and the crowd goes wild!
You like your prog mixed with lots of blues? You like good 'ol fashioned rip snortin' "turn it up to 11" abandon mixed with tight musicianship? Then Colosseum is definitely your band!