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Thread: RIP Colosseum 1968-2015

  1. #1

    RIP Colosseum 1968-2015

    Since there is no announcement to that effect on the Jon Hiseman / Barbara Thompson website, I thought I should post that I, to my surprised, witnessed Colosseum's final performance in London last Saturday. I was totally unprepared for the news, and at first thought it was one of Chris Farlowe's usual jokes, but Jon Hiseman later confirmed it was indeed Colosseum's final gig. I didn't get to talk with any of them so I can't possibly comment on why they're quitting, but certainly they were still in great form. The performance comprised a cross-selection of old and newer material, including a superb version of Jack Bruce's "Morning Story" as a hearfelt tribute to him (for which vocals were shared by Farlowe and Mark Clarke, the latter proving again that he is a great lead vocalist in his own right), with the main set ending as usual with "Valentyne Suite" (with Clarke singing the wordless vocals - I seem to remember it was Farlowe when I'd seen them in '99), with an extended "Lost Angeles" as encore with Clem Clempson jokingly quoting various other songs ("While My Guitar Gently Weeps"... ending with the "Sunshine Of Your Love" riff) during his solo. What a privilege in 2015 to see almost the entire "classic" 1970-71 line-up (with Barbara Thompson replacing the late Dick Heckstall-Smith and playing great - though no multi-sax blowing !! - despite suffering from Parkinsons disease) perform at such a level, and sad to know this won't happen again.
    Calyx (Canterbury Scene) - http://www.calyx-canterbury.fr
    Legends In Their Own Lunchtime (blog) - https://canterburyscene.wordpress.com/
    My latest books : "Yes" (2017) - https://lemotetlereste.com/musiques/yes/ + "L'Ecole de Canterbury" (2016) - http://lemotetlereste.com/musiques/lecoledecanterbury/ + "King Crimson" (2012/updated 2018) - http://lemotetlereste.com/musiques/kingcrimson/
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  2. #2
    Saw them myself about a decade ago and they were excellent. Second only to Procol Harum as far as "very come-of-age bands who still have the spark and glow" that I've witnessed. I'm sad to hear about them ending, but I'm not all too surprised, as especially Farlowe must be weary in his years. The guy still has a mammoth vox, though!

    I wonder how many folks in here even knew that Colosseum were still up and going...
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  3. #3
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    Sad, if so. I'll miss them. Great band. 69-70 was their finest period, I think.

  4. #4
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Valentyne Suite and the live album are both quite underrated IMO.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by calyx View Post
    What a privilege in 2015 to see almost the entire "classic" 1970-71 line-up (with Barbara Thompson replacing the late Dick Heckstall-Smith and playing great - though no multi-sax blowing !! - despite suffering from Parkinsons disease) perform at such a level, and sad to know this won't happen again.
    I very much envy you and others who got to see this last tour of this great band. I had hoped that at some point one of our US festivals could bring them over here but too late for that now! I have been watching a lot of the current tour on Youtube and the performances have been uniformly excellent. And the new CD is very good too.

  6. #6
    Member Dok's Avatar
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    Will DG reunite Greenslade? There was talk of a 40th reunion that didn't happen as far as I know. Clem put out a rockin' little solo album at the end of '13. Hate to see Colosseum go!

  7. #7
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    Hi,

    I'd been aware of this for a while. The reason seems to boil down to Barbara Thompson's ongoing struggle with Parkinson's disease- in the UK, there was a documentary on this some years back. British journalist Dave Ling interviewed Hiseman recently and he put some words Hiseman said to him on his website. Scroll down to 16th December here:

    http://www.daveling.co.uk/diarydecember2014.htm

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor
    Second only to Procol Harum as far as "very come-of-age bands who still have the spark and glow" that I've witnessed.
    This.

  9. #9
    Wow...sad that their run is over. Great band that I, unfortunately, never got to see.

    I am envious of you too. glad you had the opportunity and recognized it for what it was (A monumental event)

  10. #10
    Member Jay.Dee's Avatar
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    Great great band which managed to return after decades with a rare class. A few months ago I grabbed a copy of their "Morituti Te Salutant" boxset and the two-disc worth live stuff there is terrific, especially on the third disc which expands their classic Live album with recordings from the same tour. The original studio version of "Pirate's Dream" epic known from Dick Heckstall-Smith's solo album is a real treat too.

    Sadly the band is still largely overlooked in the progressive rock milieu, probably due to an unacceptable jazz influence and maybe... the timing. As the first Prog Commandment goes: Thou shalt have no prog albums prior to the First Prog Album ever - "In the Court of the Crimson King". Colosseum and Soft Machine should have been more prudent...

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay.Dee View Post
    Sadly the band is still largely overlooked in the progressive rock milieu, probably due to an unacceptable jazz influence...
    I'd say it's probably the blues rather than jazz influence that is "unacceptable" to some. I'm not much of a blues fan myself, but there's enough of a mix of styles in their music to keep me interested, and it's a "progressive" enough form of blues for it not to be boring to my ears... The less bluesy, harder-edged jazz-flavoured prog material should appeal to anyone who likes early KC material like "Schizoid Man" or "Pictures Of A City", imho.
    Calyx (Canterbury Scene) - http://www.calyx-canterbury.fr
    Legends In Their Own Lunchtime (blog) - https://canterburyscene.wordpress.com/
    My latest books : "Yes" (2017) - https://lemotetlereste.com/musiques/yes/ + "L'Ecole de Canterbury" (2016) - http://lemotetlereste.com/musiques/lecoledecanterbury/ + "King Crimson" (2012/updated 2018) - http://lemotetlereste.com/musiques/kingcrimson/
    Canterbury & prog interviews - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdf...IUPxUMA/videos

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay.Dee View Post
    Colosseum and Soft Machine should have been more prudent
    Come and join our club; we who rally for Soft's Volume Two as the first "actual" progressive rock disc from a UK band.

    Sure there were attemptive strikes before it, some of them absolutely excellent (The Nice, Procol, Moodies' Days and not least Colosseum's Valentyne), but Volume Two was essentially the very first thoroughly through-composed UK rock record.

    Of course, then the "storyline" would have to be written - and they certainly wouldn't want that.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Come and join our club; we who rally for Soft's Volume Two as the first "actual" progressive rock disc from a UK band.

    Sure there were attemptive strikes before it, some of them absolutely excellent (The Nice, Procol, Moodies' Days and not least Colosseum's Valentyne), but Volume Two was essentially the very first thoroughly through-composed UK rock record.

    Of course, then the "storyline" would have to be written - and they certainly wouldn't want that.


    An absolute MOFO that album.
    "Dem Glücklichen legt auch der Hahn ein Ei."

  14. #14
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    I am so happy I got to see them live 5 times (once with Barb instead or Dick) ever since they reformed in 95 (fuck that's two decades ago ) including once in the first Canterbury festival (was it in 00 or 01?), along with Caracvan, Man, Arthur Brown Gong and a few others.

    I first became aware of them by buying the US version of those two albums, where Valentyne Suite was on their "debut" album, and The Grass Is Greener was their second album.... I still have those two North American" vinyls and the two "European" ones

    Though I really appreciate Farlowe's singing, I've always prefered Litherland's vocals.. To me, the classic line-up would be with Reeves and Liherland, but it was too short-lived to become "classic"
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

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    Yes, early progressive rock is very underappreciated on here- a shame. All of the original Colosseum albums are great. I played 'Valentyne Suite' a few times again last year, that title track is just an absolute steamroller, marvellous stuff.

    Chris Farlowe divides opinion on here. He can ham it up for sure (although with self-awareness, remember that hokey 'Mammy' Al Jolson thing he does on 'Live'?), but he's a marvellous vocalist IMHO. I also loved those mid 60s Immediate recordings of Jagger/Richards and Mike D'Abo songs.

  16. #16
    I am very glad to have been at their last gig on Saturday. Long time fan (though I was born a decade after they first broke up), saw them three times before (once with Dick Heckstall-Smith) and I've always considered them one of the best live bands I've ever seen. This was another powerful performance.

    Farlowe is a very unusual vocalist, but I'm a fan, and at 74 he still has a strong and expressive voice.

    They never really fit into any genre/scene with their mixture of blues/jazz/prog, and I don't think any of their studio albums matches their live performances, but they've left a very impressive legacy behind.

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