Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Strange New Flesh|
Genres: Jazz, Rock, Classic Rock, Metal
Reissue of the debut album by jazz fusion group formed by Colosseum founder John Hiseman, legendary Irish blues rock guitarist Gary Moore & famous metal keyboardist Don Airey. Contains all six cuts from the original 1976 r... more »
Reissue of the debut album by jazz fusion group formed by Colosseum founder John Hiseman, legendary Irish blues rock guitarist Gary Moore & famous metal keyboardist Don Airey. Contains all six cuts from the original 1976 release on Bronze Records, plus the original cover art. 1999 release.
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Equal parts Mahavishnu Orchestra, Rainbow and the Jeff Beck
Jeffrey J.Park | Massachusetts, USA | 05/28/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This 1976 album blends searing leads on the electric guitar, fine ensemble playing that would not have been out of place on a Mahavishnu Orchestra or Return to Forever album and a bluesy/soulful vocal style reminiscent of Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow or perhaps even Bob Tench (of the Jeff Beck Group). Trust me, although I like Rainbow, Jeff Beck and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, the mixture is as confusing as it sounds and I still have not gotten completely used to it, although Colosseum II did become a more straightforward jazz rock group by the time of War Dance (1977). Come to think of it, I generally liked War Dance.
The lineup on Strange New Flesh, which was the debut by the newly re-grouped version of Colosseum, includes bandleader and virtuoso Jon Hiseman (drums and percussion), Gary Moore (electric and acoustic guitars, vocal), Don Airey (Fender Rhodes, acoustic piano, ARP Odyssey, ARP Solina string synthesizer, mini-moog, Hammond organ and clavinet), Mike Starrs (lead vocal) and Neil Murray (bass guitar). To emphasize the hard rock connections, the liner notes indicate that Neil Murray went on to jam with both Whitesnake and Black Sabbath, while Don Airey eventually joined Rainbow. Listening to the music on this album, this all makes perfect sense.
These guys are simply fantastic players, with Jon Hiseman being exceptional - I have been a fan of his drumming ever since I first listened to "Valentyne Suite" (Colosseum, 1969). Gary is a very good player and although he favors a distorted tone on the electric, also uses clean tones and works the textures of a classical guitar in. Don Airey contributed significantly to the more complex moments on the album and his use of loads of synthesizers lends the music a fairly prog-rock feel - standout moments include his blistering Hammond organ playing and the Tony Banks-esque solo on the acoustic piano. His use of the Solina string synth (with a bit of phasing) is also quite nice. Unfortunately, I did not like the vocals too much. They are a bit too bluesy for my liking and although not bad in the least, seem at odds with some of the tunes. Indeed, I wish this had been a purely instrumental album (many of the tracks feature vocals).
Musically, this album straddles the realms of prog rock, jazz rock and bluesy hard rock. Unfortunately, while there is some phenomenal virtuoso ensemble work, there is a lot more in the way of "rocking" tunes that feature what sounds today like a very dated vocal style. Admittedly, while the vocal style and the hard rock/blues aspects of the music did not work for me, I can not deny the high level of musicianship throughout. Lastly, while an emphasis is placed on rapid-fire riffs played at breakneck tempos, the group breaks things up with the use of dynamic contrasts (acoustic guitar and piano), vocal sections and nice synthesizer tone colors.
This reissue by Castle Music (1999) is pretty skimpy and the booklet features editorial comments on the band by Paul Lester (Uncut Magazine) and the personnel listing. The sound quality is exceptional.
All in all, I would have enjoyed this album more if it had been instrumental and the blues/hard rock influences had been pared back a bit. Regardless, I am a hard core prog-rock freak and naturally found something to like here."