As everyone knows, the secret of comedy is timing: but the grim comic potential of inopportune timing should never be underestimated. In Malcom Dome’s sleevenotes for Strange New Flesh, drum demagogue Jon Hiseman ruefully admits that the jazz-prog charabanc had long since left the depot by the time Colosseum II’s debut album appeared in April 1976. That’ll be the same month as the first Ramones album, then.
They were a fine band, though. Hiseman recruited keyboardist Don Airey, bassist Neil Murray, guitarist Gary Moore – ubiquitous in this era because everyone wanted a piece of him – and vocalist Mike Starrs, a strong singer from the velour-trimmed school of medallion swingers. He’d have knocked them stone dead in the nicotine-frescoed British Legion clubs of the 70s, and could have hosted the meat raffle besides.
Anachronistic they may have been, but Colosseum II were formidable ensemble players, whether confronting the apoplectic interplay of Dark Side Of The Moog, staring directly into the sun on the Utopia-esque Secret Places, or hanging back over the legato intro of On Second Thoughts. The original album is here augmented with a disc-and-a-half’s worth of exceptionally accomplished demos from 1975/76. The steaming version of Graham Bond’s Walking In The Park rips a hole in the fabric of time.