Time On Our Side
well as giving label space to a considerable quotient of promising and
energetic youthful bluesers, Ruf Records, less-frequently but admirably,
gives encouragement to more mature pioneers who remain key to the
development of the complex polygon that is modern blues.
Jon Hiseman, the late Dick Heckstall-Smith and Hammond pilot Dave
Greenslade aboard, the first Colosseum tip-toed around ‘the blues’ at
the jazzier end of its spectrum, the experimental and improvisational
nature of recordings and gigs earning them the respect of prog fans into
the bargain. The 2014 incarnation of the band sees Hiseman, Greenslade
and fellow original member Clem Clempson aboard. They are supplemented
by Hiseman’s wife, saxophonist Barbara Thompson, an occasional
uncredited contributor to early Colosseum releases, bassman Mark Clarke
and Chris Farlowe, both of whose history with Colosseum goes back to
And it’s that same willingness to elbow their way out of genre straitjackets that defines Time On Our Side, where Colosseum are content to pick and mix licks and tricks from the rock n roll smorgasbord and beyond as their strong, well-structured songs demand.
bluesy guitar coils around arrangements, with his contribution of
tasteful and ethereal bottleneck snaking through the vocals on ‘You
Don’t Get It’. His memorable, almost geometric guitar figure underpins a
rousing rock climax to ‘Anno Domini’, the working title for the album,
it seems, where Farlowe soars soulfully over almost Baroque keyboard and
saxophone interplay. The singer’s album highlight is ‘City Of Love’,
where Colosseum jazz swing perches solidly on Mark Clarke’s massive
walking bass riff.
Hiseman and Thompson’s daughter, singer and writer Ana Gracey guests, singing her own ‘Blues To Music’ with panache and soul.
The band feels
privileged to have Barbara still aboard as her constant battle with
illness is a frequent limiter to recording and touring. Yet, she has
rarely sounded freer and more energised than on Time On Our Side, scorching the reeds on ‘Safe As Houses’ and adding beautiful emotional brass embellishments from start to finish.
Hiseman’s original vision for Colosseum was, ‘…rocky, jazzy rhythms, vocals with intelligent words, improvised solos”.
Check...check...check...check. Check it out.