Eleven years since ‘Tomorrow’s Blues’ and an incredible 45 since ‘Valentyne’s Suite’, Colosseum are still creating music and still creating something that only happens when this collection of grizzled old musicians get together and, mostly, there is still magic there.

The classic lineup was Hiseman, Greenslade, Clempson, Clarke, Farlowe and Heckstall-Smith and though Barbara Thompson replaced Dick Heckstall-Smith when he died in 2004 they were pretty well set. This is the classic Colosseum lineup, older but still making music that is the magical combination of 6 unique and remarkable musicians.
Chris Farlowe’s bellow is smoother and less of the growl of his prime but the heart is still there and his tone is unmistakable while John Hiseman’s drumming is less ‘massive’ than in days of yore but has a greater subtlety that adds depth to the music. Dave Greenslade still plays Hammond like very few other keyboardsmen. As for Clem Clempson, he always has a sweet tone and fluid sound and his playing is still a delight.

Musically, this is definitely an album that shows the experience of the members but there is a wide range of styles and forms from the funky Blues of ‘Blues to Music’ through the rockier ‘The Way You Waved Goodbye’ with Thompson’s sax a perfect foil for Farlowe’s vocal and Hammond underpinning the song giving real swing.
‘Dock’s Licks’ is clearly a tribute to the late Heckstall-Smith and the sleazy and jazzy tone of the song along with a jaunty rhythm just sums the man beautifully.
‘Anno Domini’ is the most like the Colosseum of old with the whole band working together like a powerhouse of music. The ‘bonus’ track is a live version of Jack Bruce’s ‘Morning Glory’ which is a brilliant tribute to a man who had played such a massive part in the story of British jazz and Blues – Farlowe’s vocal is superb.

So, three things – definitely NOT a Colosseum tribute act. Still working together brilliantly and making music that is as classic and as up to date as any band could wish for. This isn’t an updated ‘Valentyne Suite’ or ‘Daughter of Time’ – it is a very today Colosseum album.

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