Colosseum – Colossal Live (1970)

FrontCover1Colosseum are an English progressive jazz-rock band, mixing blues, rock and jazz-based improvisation. Colin Larkin wrote that “the commercial acceptance of jazz rock in the UK” was mainly due to the band.

Colosseum, one of the first bands to fuse jazz, rock & blues, were formed in Spring 1968 by drummer Jon Hiseman with tenor sax player Dick Heckstall-Smith, who had previously worked together in the New Jazz Orchestra and in The Graham Bond Organisation, where Hiseman had replaced Ginger Baker in 1966. They met up again early in 1968 when they both played in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, during which time they played on the Bare Wires album. Childhood friend Dave Greenslade was quickly recruited on organ, as was bass player Tony Reeves who had also known both Hiseman and Greenslade since being teenage musicians in South East London. The band’s line-up was completed, after lengthy auditions, by Jim Roche on guitar and James Litherland (guitar & vocals), although Roche only recorded one track before departing.


Their first album, Those Who Are About to Die Salute You, which opened with the Bond composition “Walkin’ in the Park”, was released by the Philips’ Fontana label in early 1969. In March the same year they were invited to take part in Supershow, a two-day filmed jam session, along with Modern Jazz Quartet, Led Zeppelin, Jack Bruce, Roland Kirk Quartet, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, and Juicy Lucy.

Colosseum’s second album, later in 1969, was Valentyne Suite,[5] notable as the first release on Philip’s newly launched Vertigo label, established to sign and develop artists that did not fit the main Philips’ brand, and the first label to sign heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath.

For the third album, The Grass Is Greener, released only in the United States in 1970, Dave “Clem” Clempson replaced James Litherland. Louis Cennamo then briefly replaced Tony Reeves on bass, but was replaced in turn by Mark Clarke within a month. Then Hiseman recruited vocalist Chris Farlowe to enable Clempson to concentrate on guitar. This lineup had already partly recorded the 1970 album Daughter of Time.


In March 1971, the band recorded concerts at the Big Apple Club in Brighton and at Manchester University. Hiseman was impressed with the atmosphere at the Manchester show, and the band returned five days later for a free concert that was also recorded. The recordings were released as a live double album Colosseum Live in 1971. In October 1971 the original band broke up.

After the band split, Jon Hiseman formed Tempest with bassist Mark Clarke; Dave Greenslade formed Greenslade together with Tony Reeves. Chris Farlowe joined Atomic Rooster; and Dick Heckstall-Smith embarked on a solo career. Clem Clempson joined the hit group Humble Pie. (wikipedia)

Live 1970: Clem Clempson – Louis Cennamo – Dick Heckstall-Smith:

And here´s a pretty good bootleg. I guess one of the first Colosseum bootlegs ever featuring Louis Cennamo on bass (he played only in the summer of 1970 with Colosseum)
Grab it folks, superb vintage boot, some great improvisations. (by Matjaz Kumelj)

I remember talking to Jon about this bootleg after a gig. He said that it was through this bootleg that he was able to convince Gerry Bron that they should record a live album. Without this bootleg Live 1971 may not have happened. (by Anthony Baylis)

Enjoy the power of Colosseum … one of the most import Jazz-Rock bands from UK ever !

Recorded June 21, 1970 at the so called “Big Gig” Open Air Festival in Hamburg-Klein Flottbek, Derby Platz, on June 20-21, 1970. Colosseum played on the afternoon of the 21st.
(very good audience recording)

There are at least two editions. One original edition on black vinyl and a later edition on transparent vinyl.


Louis Cennamo (bass)
Dave ‘Clem’ Clempson (guitar)
Chris Farlowe (vocals)
Dave Greenslade (keyboards, vibraphone)
Dick Heckstall-Smith (saxophone)
Jon Hiseman (drums)


01. Lost Angeles (Greenslade/Heckstall-Smith/Farlowe) 15.44
02. The Machine Demands A Sacrifice (Litherland/Heckstall-Smith/Brown/Hiseman) / Drum Solo (Hiseman)  7.26
03. Downhill And Shadows ( Clempson/Hiseman/Reeves) 24.04



More from Colosseum:

4 thoughts on “Colosseum – Colossal Live (1970)

      • This is also wrong. On all official publications you can read: Dick Heckstall-Smith / David John Greensdale. The Studio Version of “Lost Angeles” you can hear on the U.S.Album “The grass is greener” released January 1970 long before Chris Farlowe became a member of Colosseum.


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