129

Colosseum: Breads and Circuses

Glenn Astarita By

Sign in to view read count
Veteran jazz rockers Colosseum have been on and off the scene since 1969. They released 5 albums and as drummer and leader Jon Hiseman proclaims in the liner notes, "The worlds first ever jazz rock group...etc". This statement is clearly debatable; however, in their collective prime they dazzled audiences, released fine cutting edge LP's and were among the finest of the British jazz and jazz-rock musicans.

Hiseman is the leader and has been a staple in the British jazz scene most notably with his wife, British saxophonist Barbara Thompson. Other members including keyboardist Dave Greenslade formed a cutting edge prog-rock band in the 70's, simply called "Greenslade." Guitarist Dave Clempson, who has recorded with Jack Bruce, and multi-reedman Dick Heckstall-Smith are a few of the more recognizable names among this band. Hiseman's drumming was world class. Explosive, dynamic and when necessary, refined. Hiseman also recorded a classic LP called Tempest. This LP was recorded in the early 70's and featured the great guitarist Allan Holdsworth along with Colosseum bassist Mark Clarke. As a young teen I was overwhelmed with the superb musicanship of these chaps. Time passes by and here we have the new release.

Breads and Circuses is the newly released Colosseum effort on Cloud Nine Records. Frankly, I was expecting a 90's version, perhaps with a touch of finesse and refinement in accordance with my personal wishes. Ladies and Gentleman, this is a rock record. This, of course is not intended to be detrimental, but gone are the firey crescendos, maddening pace, inventive interplay.

A rock record and a not a very memorable one at that. There are eleven cuts, including one instrumental called "The One That Got Away." The instrumental track is too little too late. Tracks 1-5 are standard rock ballad fare minus any memorable melodies, creative solos, or, to summarize, anything else to get excited about. Very little in the way of compositional attributes appear throughout this CD. Track 6, "The Playground" is perhaps the best cut, a memorable tune with a nice hook (a tune which draws similarities to that wonderful "Cantebury Prog Scene" of the 1970's). Unfortunately, the majority of these cuts do not justify enough solid material for an entire CD. No one takes control and the effort seems staid, complacent and ordinary. A solid rock beat, a few catchy horn arrangements, crisp vocals, but in a nutshell I struggled to make it through the entire CD without reaching for the "eject" button.

Duke Ellington once said something similar to, good music is good music regardless of the genre, idiom or classification. This CD fails despite the capabilities of these men. Personally, this CD stands as one of the great under-achievements of recent times. These boys can play, but here they wander into territory that others seem to do much better.


Track Listing: Watching Your Every Move; Bread & Circuses; Wherever I Go; High Time; Big Deal; The Playground; No Pleasin; I Could Tell You Tales; Storms Behind the Breeze; The One That Got Away; The Other Side Of The Sky.

Musicians:Jon Hiseman: drums; Chris Farlowe: vocals; Dick Heckstall-Smith: saxes; Clem Clempson: guitar; Mark Clarke: bass, vocals: Additional horns: Barbara Thompson

Title: Breads and Circuses | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Cloud Nine


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "57th & 9th" CD/LP/Track Review 57th & 9th
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 6, 2016
Read "Urban Soul" CD/LP/Track Review Urban Soul
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 20, 2017
Read "Strong Tea" CD/LP/Track Review Strong Tea
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 27, 2016
Read "Iberica" CD/LP/Track Review Iberica
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 8, 2017
Read "Sedimental You" CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "avantNOIR" CD/LP/Track Review avantNOIR
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 21, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.