Tengo el placer de presentarles la reedición remasterizada y expandida en 2 CDs, del histórico álbum Strange New Flesh, de Colosseum II. Un disco imprescindible en una colección de rock progresivo. Fue una sorpresa para mi ver un álbum doble, ya que la primera edición de este disco, que es la que yo conocía, era de un solo álbum de seis temas. Un disco que no caduca. De esa clase de cosas que resisten al paso del tiempo. Creo que nunca una banda tan efímera dejó un legado tan grande.
Artista: Colosseum II
Álbum: Strange New Flesh
Año: 1976Género: Rock, jazz Rock, rock progresivo
Duración: 01:07:15 + 01:16:24
Lista de Temas:
01. Dark Side Of The Moog (6:22)
02. Down To You (9:10)
03. Gemini And Leo (4:51)
04. Secret Places (4:01)
05. On Second Thoughts (7:29)
06. Winds (10:25)
07. Castles (Version 1) (11:09)
08. Gary's Lament (7:00)
09. Walking In The Park (7:05)
Mike Starr / vocals
Gary Moore / guitars, vocals
Don Airey / keyboards, synthesizers
Neil Murray / bass
Jon Hiseman / drums, percussion
En 1971, después de presentar un espléndido disco doble en directo, la banda Colosseum se disuelve, y cada uno de sus miembros toma su rumbo: Jon Hiseman formó Tempest junto a Mark Clarke. Dave Greenslade formó Greenslade con Tony Reeves; Clem Clempson se unió a Humble Pie; Chris Farlowe hizo lo mismo con Atomic Rooster; y Dick Heckstall-Smith inició una carrera en solitario.
Pero en 1975, el baterista Jon Hiseman, que había sido el fundador de Colosseum en 1968, tras la desaparición en 1974 de su banda Tempest,volvió a unir la banda con el nombre de Colosseum II, pero con una orientación aún más decidida hacia el jazz fusión, tomada en gran medida por influencia de la guitarra de Moore, dando lugar a un sonido mucho más pesado que el original de Colosseum. Los ensayos iban a comenzar el 1 de enero de 1975, pero la formación no se terminó de concretar hasta mayo de ese mismo año. Entre los músicos que participaron en el nuevo grupo estuvieron Graham Bell, Duncan Mackay y Clarke Mark. La formación se completó con Don Airey, Neil Murray, Gary Moore y Mike Starr. En esta etapa, la banda grabó y editó tres álbumes entre 1976 y 1978. Debido a las escasas ventas de Strange new Flesh, Murray y Starr fueron despedidos sin contemplaciones por el sello discográfico de la banda (Bronze) en julio de 1976.
La banda continuó con un nuevo sello discográfico y un nuevo bajista (John Mole), y grabó dos álbumes más en su mayor parte instrumentales, y comercialmente exitosos.También intervinieron en Variations con Andrew Lloyd Webber , que también contó con Julian Lloyd Webber al cello , Rod Argent a los teclados y la esposa de Hiseman, Barbara Thompson , a la flauta y al saxo. Este álbum alcanzó el número 2 en las listas británicas.
En agosto de 1978, Moore dejó Colosseum para irse con Thin Lizzy, y el hermano de Airey, Keith Airey lo sustituyó en la guitarra. Los planes para un cuarto disco fracasaron cuando Don Airey decidió unirse a Rainbow en diciembre de 1978.
Colosseum II solo fue un breve capítulo dentro de la historia de Colosseum, porque este último se reunió otra vez en junio de 1994, tocando en el "Freiburg Zelt Musik Festival" y realizando un show de TV que se grabó y publicó como CD y DVD. Se realizaron algunas ediciones de nuevas grabaciones, además de realizar algunas re-ediciones ampliadas.
Barbara Thompson, saxofonista, flautista y clarinetista que es esposa de Hiseman y que había trabajado con Colosseum desde los primeros tiempos, se incorporó a la banda en varias ocasiones tras la muerte de Dick Heckstall-Smith, ocurrida en el 2004. Thompson permanecería como miembro estable.
Colosseum continúa grabando y dando actuaciones en clubs.
Pero ese breve capítulo que constituye Colosseum II a mi me ha parecido siempre fascinante. Y de los tres álbumes que vieron la luz a nombre de esa banda, el primero, Strange new Flesh, que es el que presentamos hoy, es mi favorito. El álbum original, tal y como lo escuchaba yo en vinilo en los '70, sólo traía los primeros seis temas. Aquí les presentamos la edición remasterizada y expandida de 2005, un álbum doble que apenas estoy escuchando ahora mientras escribo, así que, aparte de los primeros seis temas, no puedo hacer valoraciones.
Puedo decir que el primer tema, Dark side of the Moog, es una entrada arrolladora que deja sin aliento: droga dura que produce una adicción inmediata, toda una tarjeta de presentación que hace que te resulte imposible no seguir escuchando lo que sigue.
Down to You es una bellísima versión de un tema de Joni Mitchell, con unos momentos instrumentales de un lirismo exquisito. Es uno de mis temas favoritos.
Gemini and Leo es, para mi, el punto débil del disco, pero aún así es un buen tema.
Secret Places es un fantástico tema con tintes comerciales. No se si de este álbum se sacaron singles, pero a este tema le veo toda la pinta de ser un buen candidato para serlo. Es arrollador, pegadizo, sin perder por eso en calidad ni originalidad.
On Second Thoughts es un agradable tema lento, que para mi, no destaca demasiado dentro del conjunto, y finalmente Winds es un temazo de elevado calibre, un tema largo donde todos se lucen, del primero al último. De lo más recomendable de este disco, junto a los dos primeros temas. De todo lo demás, no puedo decir nada, lo estoy escuchando ahora, como dije, y sinceramente, no me está diciendo nada nuevo, por ahora. pero tendré que dedicarle varias escuchas, por el respeto que me merece este álbum, que para mi, es de culto.
les dejo más abajo una entrevista a Jon Hiseman,
el alma de Colosseum y Colosseum II. Que disfruten.
- When Clem left in 1971, you decided to disband COLOSSEUM, but did the group fulfill its mission?
We couldn't have done any more. I think with the "Live" album we were finished, we could only repeat after that, which is why I stopped it.
- Did you plan it all along that TEMPEST would be your venture with Mark Clarke?
Yeah, I always said to Mark, "If I form another band, I'll give you a ring", and I did, when I thought of the idea of TEMPEST. I thought that Mark Clarke is one of the most talented musicians I've ever met: he's a wonderful bass player - natural, no taught skill at all, he doesn't know what he's doing, basically - and a fantastic singer, with wonderful time. And I always thought he was so lazy, just very happy to just work for other people, and hoped that he'd get by. That's a tragedy - if he'd had a business head and if he'd tried, he could have actually been a star.
- But you had Paul Williams in TEMPEST, in the beginning.
Yes, Paul was another very good singer who had a lot of problems because he couldn't fly. We were taking two or three planes a day across America, with TEMPEST, and he was getting drunk all the time. He was so scared of flying, he would just sit on a plane shaking. It became a serious problem, so we just couldn't continue with that.
- What was the main difference between TEMPEST and COLOSSEUM?
TEMPEST was more of a straightforward rock band, it was less jazzy. Allan Holdsworth played some great solos on the first TEMPEST album - fantastic solos, some of the best solos he's ever played, actually, mainly because they were short.
- What was the difference between Allan Holdsworth and Ollie Halsall?
Allan was very meticulous, very clear. He had a vision about what he was trying to do. Ollie was a lunatic, a chameleon, again: in any circumstance he'd find a way to make it work. Interesting guy! I liked Ollie a lot.
- Did you hear him in PATTO?
I never heard him in PATTO, no. He just came recommended to me, and when we played we hit it off, I thought he was great. When we were a trio, we did some fantastic gigs - Mark Clarke, Ollie and me.
- Where did you find Allan?
The jazz musicians recommended him to me and said, "This is really fantastic guitarist. He's living in the North of England and coming down to London". But Allan was never happy with TEMPEST, he was never happy... He wanted to play much more jazz, that's why he left.
- Why did you finish TEMPEST after only two albums?
Only because commercially it was very difficult. I enjoyed it musically.
- On the second album, "Living In Fear", you co-wrote only one piece, though.
I can't write things unless I'm feeling that the band can do it justice, I even didn't write anything for "Tomorrow's Blues" - or did I? - because I just didn't feel that I could add to it. The kind of lyrics I write Chris finds very difficult to sing, so we decided to make a very simple album, based on the blues, and I couldn't write anything for that. I'm writing more and more into poetry now, which is much harder to sing: I'm not so interested in lyrics anymore as I'm into poetry and prose.
- Yet was recording a BEATLES' track with TEMPEST due to the shortage of original material?
No, I wanted to do a BEATLES' track - I love THE BEATLES. I thought "Paperback Writer" was a great song, and it wasn't one that other people did much, it wasn't a popular song for THE BEATLES.
- On the "Tempest" album, there's a cut called "Upon Tomorrow", written by Clarke and Clempson. Was it some COLOSSEUM out-take?
This was a COLOSSEUM leftover, yeah, definitely a COLOSSEUM leftover. It was something we were working on before we split up.
- How did COLOSSEUM II come about?
Gary Moore said, "I'd like to form a band. Could we do it together?" I said, "That's a good idea". We tried for a year to get a record deal and we couldn't, [as] the band was called GHOSTS. And finally, I went to Gerry Bron and said, "I've got this band called GHOSTS. Are you interested?" He said, "Bring it into the studio". We went into the studio and played for one afternoon before him, and he said, "Great, I love it, but you've got to call it COLOSSEUM-something. I can sell that, but I can't sell a band called GHOSTS". So I rang all the guys in COLOSSEUM, "Look, I can't get a deal unless I call it COLOSSEUM-something. Do you mind?" They said, "No, get on with it!" And I called it COLOSEEUM II, though I never wanted to - it was just business.
- Was hard rock that Gary was drawn to interesting to you?
Not at the time, no.
- Well, COLOSSEUM II could be considered a hard rock band, with Moore and Neil Murray.
Neil Murray was playing jazz rock in those days, he went over to hard rock when he joined DEEP PURPLE - or did he?
- No, that was WHITESNAKE. But what about you joining GREENSLADE?
No, no, no, I played two or three gigs with them, I think, because their drummer was sick or couldn't make it or something. I did two or three gigs with them but no, I was never going to join. It was Dave's thing, he had to do that alone, you know.
- Still, he brought Clem for some tracks - was he trying to recreate COLOSSEUM?
No, no, it's totally different music, totally. I think it sounds so different from anything we do. And I don't like all those synth things, I can't stand that, I don't like that at all.
- There are two great musicians who you played for, on their albums: Keef Hartley and Dave Cousins.
I don't remember anything about the Keef Hartley record and I don't think I ever heard it, so I don't know about that. People have asked me about this before, but I can't remember at all. ["Overdog" by THE KEEF HARTLEY BAND credits Jon Hiseman for playing there. - DME] As for Dave Cousins, he asked me to go to a studio - the Manor Studio - I turned up with a big drum kit, and there was just him with an acoustic guitar. I started to play with sticks, and it sounded silly, with an acoustic guitar. I said, "What's going to go on this track?" He said, "I don't know". I finished up playing with brushes, because the brushes and an acoustic guitar sounded great. When he sent me a copy of the record, six months later, he had bloody Rick Wakeman on it playing like a lunatic! It had all sorts of other stuff on it and it wasn't anything to do with what I played on at all. I never did that again!
- By the way, you have a very large drum kit, but how many drums do you actually need to make music?
You can't hit more than four things at once because you've only got four limbs - so, effectively, four. All that big drum kit does is give you variety, and it enables me to play melodies, which I couldn't play on a small drum kit. The tuning of the drums is very important to me and it's very precise. It's a technique, again, I developed in the late Sixties, for tuning big drum kits; it's probably unique to me, as the drums have a cadence which makes a lot of sense to me, very simple musical cadence, and I always tune it very precisely to that cadence.
- What's the current situation with COLOSSEUM?
We're going to do some touring next year  - that's it really. We've got a live album which I'm going to release.
- What's next for Jon Hiseman, then?
Barbara's writing classical music, and she's done three concertos: one for saxophone quartet and orchestra, one for cello and orchestra, one for piano and orchestra, and now I'm working on getting the money to record these and get them issued.
- How do you feel in this classical music situation?
Very happy. I like it very much. I work a lot with Barbara, recording, and it's very nice.
- But how did you begin to work with Webber?
We've done the "Electric Savage" album, I think, with COLOSSEUM II, and Andrew Lloyd Webber was with the same record company, MCA. He was in the offices one day, heard this music and said, "Oh, that's wonderful! Who's that?" They said, "It's a drummer called Jon Hiseman, he's got a band, COLOSSEUM II", so he rang me up and said, "You don't know me, dear boy, but I've written this work for my brother Julian, on cello, and I need exactly that combination to do it, which would be interesting". So I went to his home, and he played the music for me on the piano, for an hour, explaining what would happen. I didn't remember much of it, but I went back to Gary and said, "This guy really know what he's doing, and I think we should get involved". Gary thought it was a bit weird, but he agreed because the guy was going to pay us well. We went in the studio for two weeks and made this album, called "Variations". After then, Gary went off and did his own thing, of course, because COLOSSEUM II broke up, but I stayed with Andrew all the way through to "Requiem". We - Rod Argent, myself, Barbara, John Mole - only ever did three weeks in the shows in London, the first three weeks, and then handed it over to people who did that for a living.
- Did you play at that time with Mo Foster?
I did, yeah. Mo Foster's been to the studio and played for me a lot.
- Who's you favorite bass player to make a rhythm section with?
Well, there've been three bass players I've enjoyed enormously: Mark Clarke, Dave Ball and Paul Westwood. Paul Westwood is a wonderful bass player who played in PARAPHERNALIA for two years. Fantastic player! Technically, this guy's the best bass player I've ever seen or heard anywhere in the world - ever. This guy is the most brilliant rhythmical bass player, he's the only guy I know that can play "The Genuine Bubble" where every bar is different, and it goes like a rocket: (sings scat) "Bap-bap-bap-bam-bam ta-da-ta-da-ta-da". He can do all that, and you just think, "How does he do this?" And it's just wonderful!
- When did you start doing all these stage introductions, telling stories on-stage?
From the first day of COLOSSEUM. I've been doing that all the time.
- Don't you think you should try to write a book?
Nah! After I'm dead! (Laughs.) After all the other people are dead too - then I could tell some real stories.
- How does your sense of humor project in your music? I mean, most people think COLOSSEUM are serious, but the music is always somehow funny.
We do a lot of laughing. When COLOSSEUM are together, we do a lot of laughing and we've been laughing at the same jokes for thirty years. We have a lot of fun.
- The first impression of the band is of a group of intellectuals anyway.
Anybody who was educated in the Fifties and the Sixties have a good education, now nobody's educated anymore. England is now a nation of twits, idiots, they're all around you. Nobody's been educated for the last twenty years, and the young people are real crass here. You don't see this in Central London, but out in the countryside it's murder - literally - because the government starves the schools of money for twenty-five years to keep taxes low, and the problem is that you can't do that. So education was handed over to a bunch of leftish ideologues who began to teach children - or not teach children, basically. But we - just normal people, from the education of Fifties and Sixties - are cultured people, we had a good education in culture. And because we're all of the same age, we understand that, we've always read serious books, all of us.
- So, when writing, you try to make it a bit sophisticated or it just runs naturally?
No, no, no, when I write, I only write what I can, and if it doesn't work... I've got folders of stuff that I never showed the guys because I knew it wouldn't be right - but I still wrote it.
- Then, how did you feel about releasing "The Collector's Colosseum"?
But they're not out-takes, no! There was a very interesting situation between the English record company and the American record company at one point: we didn't sign a deal in America until after we'd made "The Valentyne Suite", and because "The Valentyne Suite" had been such a success in Europe it was decided that the first album in America would be half of "Those About To Die" and half of "The Valentyne Suite". It was called, I think, "Those About To Die" but it was not the European "Those About To Die". And we got into a situation where we needed two or three extra tracks for the next American album, "The Grass Is Greener" - but these never came out in Europe. This was a complete mess! Typical, you know. So they had been released in Europe on "The Collector's Colosseum", and I don't think "The Collector's Colosseum" ever was issued in America.
- And what you think was the best COLOSSEUM album? "Live"?
We recorded six shows. There was no mobile van, so you had to take a studio part, put it in a vehicle, take it out to wherever you played and then reassemble it in a room somewhere close to the stage. We recorded six concerts, and at the end of the Manchester concert there was a terrible row in the dressing room afterwards, because we'd all played so badly. We never had bothered to listen to the tape and then did five more recordings - we hated all of them! Finally, somebody said, "We've never listened to the one from Manchester". Gerry Bron said, "Oh, I think we may have rubbed it out, I'm not sure", but he went back and they found it. We listened to it and said, "That's the one!" It just shows you the big lesson I learned from that: groups never know what they're doing on the stage when they're doing it. Most of the time if I do a gig and I think, "Ah, Jesus! That was a great gig, I really played good!" - somebody would come up and say, "Thanks for the gig! I enjoyed it, but I heard you two weeks ago and it was much better". Then, another time I think that it was absolutely terrible and I couldn't get back to the dressing room because of people telling me what a wonderful gig it was. So what I learned was, this is all bullshit: the musicians never know what they're doing and they shouldn't judge - the audience judge.
- What's so special about "Theme From An Imaginary Western"? You played on Jack Bruce's original, then COLOSSEUM recorded a version of it and then GREENSLADE did it, too...
It's a lovely song, a wonderful song, don't you think? Fantastic song. The lyrics by Pete Brown are the most fantastic. You know what it's about, don't you? It's an allegory. It's an allegory for all the groups that tried to make it and fell by the wayside. (Loosely recites) Sometimes they made it, sometimes they found it, sometimes they lost it, sometimes they died in sight of day. They're fantastic lyrics. "When the wagons leave the city for whatever it is further on" - that's the bands going out on the motorways in search of fame and fortune. It's a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful song, and Jack wrote probably his best melody lines to it. On his version of it, on "Songs For A Tailor", there's an organ line that we never used and nobody's ever used on a cover version, but it's very important to the song. It makes his the best version. But MOUNTAIN's version's very good as well.
- When Clem toured with Jack Bruce, he played bass while Jack sat at the piano.
Clem's a wonderful player! We did a gig in Oxford, I think, and I heard this young guitarist and thought, "He's great! If James Litherland ever leaves, I'll give him a ring". So when James Litherland left, I gave him a ring.
- What about his singing?
I don't like him singing.
- Neither does he!
He never like it, it sounded sped up. He's a good back up, he and Mark make a good back up vocal sound, but I don't like his lead singing. It wasn't powerful enough for COLOSSEUM, it always sounded slightly strained.
- Were you surprised when he started playing heavier music with HUMBLE PIE?
Nah. He's a rock 'n' roller at heart but he's talented at many things. Actually, he's a good jazz player, but he says he can't play jazz.
- And what's your relation to rock 'n' roll?
I love it all! Anything that's good I like. I was brought up on classical music, I got into free jazz, I got into blues, I got into rock 'n' roll... Elvis Presley was fantastic, Stevie Wonder, John Coltrane - that''s my record collection. QUEEN and Freddie Mercury were fantastic, I love it all. And the most creative work that's going on anywhere in the world now is in pop music: it's more creative than modern classical music, it's more creative than jazz. Jazz is finished, there's no creativity at all anymore. All that jazzers are doing now is going back to the Fifties and trying to sound like that. That's up.
- No new Elvin Jones or Tony Williams?
No, only copies. Real creativity is going on in modern pop music. Some of it is very interesting. They are pushing the boundaries. People like COLDPLAY are pushing forward the boundaries of artistic expression in a way like nobody else; it's not happening in painting, it's not happening anywhere else. Pop music has become the directors', the producers' medium just like film has. It's not about performance, you see: I'm a performance artist and earlier, in the Sixties, art was about performance, but it's not about performance anymore. When you go to see the film, the scene lasts forty seconds, and what you don't realise is that it took a week to shoot, it's forty different camera angles and set-ups and in the end the director makes the film by throwing pieces together on the floor on the studio. But when you're watching, it never occurs to you that it's not performance art. All that's really happening in pop music has become a directors' media, it is pieced together under a vision just like a film is. I don't see film as performance art now - well, it probably was in the Thirties when they had long shots, and Fred Astaire actually had to dance. So there's a big difference now, but it doesn't mean that it's not art - just different art.
- So who would you like to produce?
Nobody. I retired. I've had enough. I just do my thing I'm happy with now. I produced an album for my daughter [Ana Gracey] who's a fantastic singer - but nobody wants to know, they can't understand this at all. And she is great!
- Will there ever be a Jon Hiseman solo album?
No. Nobody wants to listen to this. My album is very good for parties when you want people to go. (Laughs.) Several famous people wash up to that album.
- And what if you bring together some old friends and some not-so-old friends and make a party album for people not to go but to come?
I'm not interested. I've done it before. Do you know how many concerts I've done and how many albums I've played on? I don't have to do this at all, I'm having a good time at the moment just doing the things I like. I'm writing a serious computer program - an accounting program - using the biggest relational database in the world to make it go real smooth. I'll use it myself and I'll probably never sell it, never bother. I'm interested in this, it's a very interesting set of problems, and I do it for a hobby. It's not profession, this is just hobby and I love it. [Jon had an accounting training and, before he became a professional musician, worked as an accountant. - DME]
- What you regular day is like, then?
Fourteen hours a day every day I'm working. At the moment I'm working on getting all the original masters for all the records I've ever made. It's all now deteriorating and has to be baked in the ovens and then transcribed into Pro-Tools. So I'm doing this slowly in my studio; this is a long job. Then all the tapes will go to the National Archive for storage. Also I'm writing this computer program and creating very life-like orchestral demos of all Barbara's music in the computer using very big sample sets: forty gigabytes' pianos, forty-five gigabytes' orchestra sets - it's a long slow work but it's interesting. I've got two PARAPHERNALIA live albums to mix and a COLOSSEUM live album. I've got an Evelyn Glennie album to finish and get released. I've just done a location recording of Barbara's saxophone quartets album, all her compositions, which we hope to get released next year. So much stuff! I can't move, I still have to do ten days a month in the office administering all the royalties, as I've got a publishing company, Temple Music, which I run with more than five thousand titles! This is a big work. All the royalties for the boys have to be processed twice a year - I mean, I don't have a moment: this is really hard work, I tell you.
- Why "Temple"?
Oh, because Barbara wrote a song called "Temple Song", which was a very successful track on one of the early PARAPHERNALIA albums. We were looking for a name, and I thought, "Temple Music is nice".
- You're talking about all this with a great passion. Are you a happy person?
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely - all the time.