Second album from this groundbreaking quintet that had offered us much of a thrill with their debut. Again here, if you are looking for the vinyl, please be aware that this album came out with a very close-looking version in America, but a completely different track list and is titled, The Grass Is Greener 5BTW, I distinctly remember a first version of Lost Angeles on this version of the album). Again here I will review the Cd version as to not complicate things uselessly. What one must realize is that this album was the first released by progressive label Vertigo and the first vinyl to have that superb spiral spinning around the vortex of the record. A real delight to watch it spinning especially while listening to the second side of the vinyl. As if that label and that track were made for each other.
Starting in the same fashion as their debut on an incredibly positive, joyously-communicative (bordering on the epidemic contagion ;-), with Litherland stealing the show both with his superb voice and his wild guitar wailings, James “Butty” is reaching his moment of glory in this RnB-infested rock track. A real gas even if you are not that much in RnB music. Elegy has absolutely nothing to envy its predecessor both in happiness but here DH-S’s sax takes the centre-stage and the group is accompanied by a superb string section, which at times draws chills in your back. As you might have guessed, the next track is a rather slow blues with an infectious organ groove and heavy brass section, and Butty Litherland unleashing his heart onto an unsuspecting microphone and your disbelieving here. Orgasmic. Closing of the A-side is a much-more Sacrifice-Demanding Machine, which confirms the progressive qualities detected in the debut album, even if the tracks is also starting as a blues, but this time much more oppressive than previous tracks and it has mid-track fade out (well this is not yet the 70’s, so one can forgive the less successful experimentations such as this one. The track ends in a total chaos, which still shows that ideas were there, but not always perfectly laid out on wax.
But all you progheads are giving a hoot about is my coming down to describing the chef d’oeuvre that is coming out and filling (and fulfilling you) the B-side. Starting out a bit like Brubeck’s Blue Rondo a La Turc (or more like The Nice’s version of it), the track soon diverges from it as Greeenslade’s delicious vibraphone descending lines reach directly into your heart, blocks the main vein and all you have to do is wait for the vibes to return before the strokes gets to you. But Dave is a gentleman and happily obliges some more life-saving orgasmic vibes lines. Clearly, this track is Greenslade’s “Heure De Gloire”, the track he will forever remembered for and as the first movement ends with him having switched to piano (McCoy Tyner-influenced) with DH-S approaching the feel of this writer’s ultimate musician, John Coltrane during A Love Supreme!!!!!! Needless to say that Hiseman was playing along as if he was Elvin Jones. 30 years down the road this passage still nails me to the floor with tears of joy flowing out uncontrollably. The main Berstein-inspired theme then takes over again with Greenslade now taking more liberties with the harmonies, while the track is only made possible by Hiseman’s wild drumming. As the track is again calming down, Butty Litherland comes in along with the others for some superb angelic vocalizing superbly underlined by D H-S’s sax lines. To say that much of this track was written on the day that mankind walked on the moon (although only 6 at the time, I remember that day vividly) is simply so telling, July 21, 69!!! The third part is letting more part to the guitar, but Greenslade is dominating the debate again, and there are some incredibly delightful exchanges between the two but DHS is never far away either. Clearly, TVS is taking off where The Ides Of March had left it on the debut album. But as orgasmic this track is, there is also a feel that the many influences it draws from, even if well-digested are a bit too obvious and this might just be the ultimate reason why Colosseum will never break the big leagues like Yes or Crimson.
Unfortunately for him Litherland was to be sacked because he was mostly a blues player, and Hiseman being the boss he was (the group’s official name is John Hiseman’s Closseum), and having the opportunity to snatch Clempson from Bakerloo. Tony Reeves left also on musical grounds but of his own. So Clempson will bring in Mark Clarke into the band also. This second album while still not completely progressive, is certainly as historically important as The Nice’s debut or Crimson’s ITCOTCK and just for that merits the fifth star. Awesome!!!