First UK pressing of Colosseum's second album and the first ever on Vertigo
Released in 1969, Colesseum helped launch the Vertigo label with the release of their second album 'Valentyne Suite' (VO 1). The band had already had a successful debut album on Fontana called 'Those Who Are About To Die Salute You' and their original mix of blues, jazz and rock is right at home with Vertigo. I managed to get this LP last weekend and is the first pressing with original (with no splits!) inner sleeve and is my first foray into Vertigo LPs. Looking at the prices of other first pressings, this is where my collection ends!
The album starts off with the fantastic The Kettle. It's got a really catchy hook to it and some great lead guitar work that's dripping with distortion and wahwah, including two fantastic solos. A special mention goes to the pounding drum track that accompanies the song. 'Elegy' has a more jazzy, soulful tone to it with blues and rock thrown into the mix. You can tell pretty early on in this album that these musicians are technically gifted; everything's tight and integrated with each band member having their opportunity to show what they can do. The album slows down for Butty's Blues. The vocals on this song are fantastic as is the brass solo. Although frequent, these solos don't sprawl into 10-minute jams, they're tightly integrated into the songs but you could easily see them turning into pieces of self-indulgence. Thankfully, that doesn't happen. The last track on side 1, 'The Machine Demands A Sacrifice', is glorious and features some great hypnotic flute at the end before the song abruptly ends.
Side B contains 'The Valentyne Suite'. In three 'themes' (parts on the label), 'January's Search', 'February's Valentyne' and 'The Grass Is Always Greener…'. This has its high points but sometimes the track just doesn't flow. However, the second part, for me at least, stands out as the best of the three.
The gatefold sleeve art bears no resemblence to the music that's contained within – the oversized candles with the sun directly behind and scrubland create a surreal image. Who is the ghostly figure clad in all-white waiting for? The Vertigo logo on front is bright pink.
The label carries no composer credits but has the all-important 'Vertigo' and 'A Philips Record Product' on the bottom of the side b label. Only the first pressings have these texts. The inside of the fold-out does have composer credits:
all music by Colosseum and all words by Pete Brown
The liner notes are printed over the top of a montage of faces. The running time is not mentioned in the inner sleeve. Strangely, the catalogue number in the matrix doesn't reflect the number on the labels – surely it should be 886 900, not 886 775!
This LP was issued on Fontana in The Netherlands with the 'correct' catalogue number 847 900. It was also issued in the USA as 'The Grass Is Greener' on Dunhill (DS 50079) in 1970 with different tracks and in an altered cover. In Japan it was released on Philips (SFX-7201) and in New Zealand on Fontana (VTY 847 900).
I've only played this once to see what the vinyl sounds like and although there's a few crackles on side b, there's nothing wrong at all with this copy. There's no splits to the sleeves and no visible marks on the record. The outer sleeve has some general shelfwear but could be graded as an 'excellent'. I'm going to buy one of the cheaper reissues as a play copy and this will live happily ever after with the rest of my babies.
Special thanks goes to http://www.vertigoswirl.com for some of the information regarding other releases of this album.
- The Kettle
- Butty's Blues
- The Machine Demands A Sacrifice
- The Valentyne Suite – Theme One 'January's Search'
- The Valentyne Suite – Theme Two 'February's Valentyne'
- The Valentyne Suite – Theme One 'The Grass Is Always Greener…'
Side 1 – 886 775 1Y*1 420 1 1 1 1
Side 2 – 886 775 2*Y*1 420 1 1 1 1