Colosseum II – Electric Savage (1977)

LPFrontCover1Two small changes in Colosseum II’s second album: Neil Murray left the group to join National Health (I believe), replaced by unknown John Mole, and most important the group became an almost-instrumental beast, which for their kind of music fit them best. If I say Almost-instrumental, it’s because Gary Moore sings on one track, sounding a bit like Steve Winwood, but let’s face it, Colosseum II doesn’t need a singer!! Coming with a bizarre electronic tribal neon artwork, Electric Savage heads further into RTF and Brand X fusion than ever before. If most of the music is still penned by Gary Moore, there is a tendency towards more democracy as Airey pens two himself, while Hiseman co-writes four.

Opening on Hackett-ian (solo) guitar lines, Put It This Way dives head first hard fusion filled with power riffs, Brand X-style. All Skin & Bone is a fantastic percussive track that uses the same Hackett-ian guitar and probably the album’s highlight. Rivers is the only sung track of the album, and as mentioned above, it sounds like a Steve Winwood solo track. The group also had a more progressive slant and here The Scorch is the prime example of it, where the group moves through a series of rhythm pattern and moods, but mostly doing so in a fury, as would indicate the title. Very classical exit of this track and a brilliant quartet, especially Hiseman.

Colloseum II_01

The flipside starts on the cheesy Lament, but it’s not an over-ripe camembert, either, just a slightly pompous facet of their prog moods, a bit the logical continuation of Scorch. Next up, Desperado returns to the 100 MPH fusion of Brand X that we’d visited in the album opener. The album closes on two Airey compositions, the first is a great crescendoing airy (pun intended) track, where Don & Gary exchange wild leads on a mid-tempo and background synth layers, while its alter ego Intergalactic Strut shines among a thousand galaxy, hinting at RTF’s seventh. If I say shine, there is a slight eclipse with

Gary Moore.jpg

While it was not so obvious on SNF, Moore has more problems being himself on such a blatant jazz rock album, than he does on a blues or hard rock album, and here , he’s more credible when either crunching riffs away or pulling blues wails from his axe, than really adding a jazzy blue note. When he does try, he seems either taken by Hackett or goes purelt classical. Incidentally, I was never a fan of Airey’s keyboard style (especially when playing in the Purpe galaxy), but for some reasons, in Col II, he was never more credible than here, and if some synth choices of his are questionable, but it’s got to do more with the era’s choice of arms, more than artistic choices. Outside a few loonies (like Mooney), Hiseman’s drumming is still miles ahead of many of his English peers (Bruford, Collins & Dunbar excepted) and he mixes himself a tad higher in the group’s overall sound, but it’s nothing shocking, on the contrary.. It even enhances his insane playing. Either this album or the following carbon-copy Wardance will be the perfect intro, but you’re wary of redundancy in your shelves, you’ll have to check whether you would need more than one. (by Sean Trane)

But … the original Closseum was for the history of British Jazz-Rock much more important …

BackCover

Personnel:
Don Airey (keyboards, clavinet)
Jon Hiseman (drums, percussion)
Gary Moore (guitar, vocals)
John Mole (bass)

Booklet1Tracklist:
01. Put It This Way (Moore) 4.56
02. All Skin And Bone (Moore/Hiseman) 3.47
03. Rivers (Moore/Hiseman) 5.51
04. The Scorch (Moore) 6.03
05. Lament (Traditional) 4.40
06. Desperado (Moore/Hiseman) 6.00
07. Am I (Airey) 4.17
08. Intergalactic Strut (Airey) 5.58

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JonHiseman

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