Thursday, June 21, 2018

Morituri te Salutant: 3 Gigs of Colosseum

Moving along to another birthday post; this one also doubles as a memorial to the birthday guy, who passed away just 10 days ago after a 50-year career.
He was born this day in 1944 and by the mid-1960s he was ascending the ladder of the British Blues Boom scene, beginning by replacing another top shelf drummer -- one Ginger Baker -- in The Graham Bond Organisation as Mr. Baker went off to start Cream.
Stints with Georgie Fame and then with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers followed, but it was his next project that vaulted him into the arena of giants.
For it was towards the end of 1968 that he put together his first project as a bandleader, which became one of the best and brightest of the turn of the Sixties to the Seventies. This group was called Colosseum.
Not that he limited his activities at all; during the initial run of Colosseum, he also drummed on a whole bunch of other people's albums, like Jack Bruce's 1969 and 1970 records and ones by Keef Hartley and Et Cetera.
Then the original Colosseum broke up and he was asked to join the then-new incarnation of King Crimson, but declined and instead started another group called Tempest, which eventually led him to restart the Colosseum project with new cohorts. These included the guitarmeister Gary Moore, in a band entitled Colosseum II. 
This group recorded and toured extensively from 1976-78, and also was the band on that Andrew Lloyd Webber LP of Variations on Paganini's 24th Caprice that ALW had to make when he lost a soccer bet to his cellist brother Julian.
Our hero and his wife -- reedster/windster Barbara Thompson, who is also all over those early Colosseum platters -- then went on to found the United Jazz & Rock Ensemble with German keys wizard Wolfgang Dauner, who needs his own day on this page.
He spent the 1980s making soundtracks, and then stunned the world by reuniting the exact same version of Colosseum that had broken up in 1971, 23 years after the fact. This aggregation played all over the world and recorded sporadically for the next 20 years, with wife Barbara eventually replacing sax master Dick Heckstall-Smith, who passed in 2004.
He never stopped moving forward, this cat. His recent band, JCM, consisting of himself alongside Colosseum vets Clem Clempson and Mark Clarke, had just released a record in April.
He died on June 12th of brain cancer, but the voluminous legacy of Jon Hiseman will live forever. To commemorate both his passing and what would have been his 74th birthday today, we have in the cloud an unofficial PAL DVD, sourced from station master tapes, depicting three tremendous TV/film appearances of the mighty Colosseum, dating from their original, early 1970s rampage.
on television and in film

"Beat Club"
Bremen, Germany
01 Walking In the Park (6.7.1969)
02 The Machine Demands a Sacrifice (1.31.1970)
03 Tanglewood '63 (11.28.1970)
04 Take Me Back to Doomsday (11.28.1970)

Taverne de L'Olympia
Paris, France 
05 Skellington
06 Tanglewood '63
07 Summertime

Staines, UK
08 Those Who Are About to Die Salute You
09 Debut

Total time: 54:02

James Litherland - vocals, guitar (Tracks 01, 08 & 09)
Chris Farlowe - vocals (Tracks 02-07)
Tony Reeves - bass (Tracks 01, 02, 08 & 09)
Mark Clarke - bass (Tracks 03-07)
Clem Clempson - guitar
Dick Heckstall-Smith - saxophones
Barbara Thompson - flute, saxophones & vocals
Dave Greenslade - keyboards
Jon Hiseman - drums

unofficial PAL DVD from 3 different master tapes of 3 different performances
These footages provide a solid glimpse into this completely singular and tasteful group; you won't find the usual hippy-dippy, dated sounds here. What's cool about Hiseman's groups and aesthetic is they don't ever get too wispy and Proggy, with a sensibility and thrust rooted more in the heavy Blues aspects from which he emerged in the '60s.
I shall return tomorrow and through the weekend as we get into the post-a-thon here at June's end, but for now we enter the Colosseum to honor and celebrate Jon Hiseman, a hugely underrated bandleader and musician who leaves a mighty fine and lasting legacy, despite the idea that most folks have never heard of him.--J.
6.21.1944 - 6.12.2018

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