Exposé Online banner

Colosseum — Valentyne Suite
(Sanctuary Records SMEDD097, 1970/2004, 2CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2005-09-01

Valentyne Suite Cover art

Like so many British bands of the 60s, Colosseum suffered from label meddling when it came to the release of their albums across the Atlantic. Their first album, Those Who Are About to Die Salute You, ended up with different songs for its US release, including three tracks that would later appear on their second UK album, Valentyne Suite. Since part of Valentyne Suite had already come out in the US, an alternate album, titled The Grass Is Greener, appeared here in 1970, with new material recorded to make up the difference. Got that? Luckily, Sanctuary has done the sensible thing and put out both versions in one package, which does lead to a bit of duplication, but at least gives us all the tracks from the albums, both of which are killer examples of jazzy blues-rock with what might be today called proto-progressive tendencies. Saxman Dick Heckstall-Smith, keyboardist Dave Greenslade, and original guitarist/vocalist James Litherland shine throughout VS, with Litherland’s great Hendrix-like six-string work on the opener “The Kettle” being a particular highlight, double-tracking one guitar solo with another featuring the wah-wah pedal. Jon Hiseman’s slightly hyperactive drumming is another constant factor, really propelling the band. The title suite, which occupied the entire second side of the original LP, spotlights Greenslade’s organ, coming off almost like The Nice augmented by jazzy horns (which works better than you might think); it’s an essential classic from the early days of prog, and a different take on where rock could go given imagination and the skills to bring it to light. For the American album, the new tracks feature Litherland’s replacement, Clem Clempson, and they get off to a great start with “Jumping of the Sun,” a nice slice of Traffic-like psychedelia, and “Lost Angeles,” a fast psych blues with horns. Also included are covers of Jack Bruce’s “Rope Ladder to the Moon” and Ravel’s “Bolero.” The reissue further adds two live tracks from a 1969 Top Gear appearance, making it an even better deal.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 32, 2004 releases, 1970 recordings

Related artist(s): Colosseum, Dave Greenslade

Latest news

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Peter Garland - String Quartets – Exuberant, bright and energetic, these two string quartets performed by Apartment House ( a traditional line-up of two violins, viola and cello) manage to cover a few centuries’ worth of style while...  (2010) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues