Album Review: Trapeze Discography (1970-72)

Aaron ConnAlbum Review, Miscellaneous, MusicLeave a Comment

trapeze band
trapeze band

Trapeze, with their classic line up. L to R: Glenn Hughes, Mel Galley and Dave Holland

Purple Records, a Cherry Red Records label, has just reissued the first three studio albums from UK hard rockers Trapeze. As per usual with Cherry Red’s releases, these reissues are jam packed with bonus tracks- featuring one or two bonus discs for each album. While not all of these albums are perfect, it’s good to see these albums back in print.

A Little History
Trapeze were formed around 1969- consisting of singer John Jones, guitarist Mel Galley, bassist/singer Glenn Hughes, drummer Dave Holland and keyboardist Terry Rowley. The band were soon signed to Threshold Records, a record label created by the Moody Blues. Moody Blues bassist John Lodge produced the band’s self-titled debut album in 1970. However later in the year, the band would soon become a hard rock trio consisting of Galley, Hughes and Holland- a line-up that would go on to make two albums Medusa and You Are The MusicWe’re Just The Band.  While Hughes left for Deep Purple in 1973, Trapeze would continue to perform and record (albeit with various different line ups) until 1982. While Trapeze weren’t really popular, the members went on to achieve more success with other bands. Galley and Holland  would find success as members of Whitesnake and Judas Priest (respectively) while Hughes was in various different bands. During the 1990s, this classic line up would reunite for several tours in 1992 and 1994.

As per usual with reviews dealing with multiple albums, I will go through this set album by album.

Trapeze debut albumTrapeze (1970)
While a far cry from what was to come in later years, the first Trapeze album has a special kind of charm to it- even if it’s scattered at times. Musically, the band were a prog rock outfit in the vein of Jethro Tull and the Moody Blues- while maintaining some of the psychedelic vibes of the late 60s California bands. While this sounds good on paper, the album isn’t necessarily great. Some of the songs drag out while others don’t go anywhere. Still, there’s some solid prog rock tunes here- most of which can be found on the first half of the album. At best, this is a decent album.

Highlights: The Giant’s Dead Hooray, Fairytale/Verily Verily/Fairytale, Over, Another Day, Send Me No More Letters
Bonus tracks: several different mixes of “Send Me No More Letters”, along with demo recordings and some live performances on BBC shows.
Rating: 6/10

trapeze medusa albumMedusa (1970)
If there’s one Trapeze album you must own, it’s Medusa. Now a three-piece band, the band’s sound was more hard rock/blues rock oriented here- in the style of Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Led Zeppelin. With John Jones out, Glenn Hughes was now the sole lead singer of the band and he sounds amazing here. Even with only seven songs to offer, Medusa will give you your fix of hard rockers here- whether they be simple meat-and-potatoes blues rock or epic prog rock/heavy rock jams. While not entirely perfect, this is- hands down- Trapeze’s best album.

Highlights: Black Cloud, Makes You Want to Cry, Jury, Medusa, Touch My Life
Bonus tracks: several single edits, BBC sessions, and two live concerts- one being in Flushing, NY. For the live performances, these aren’t top-notch sounding recordings. Similar to Cherry Red’s live bootleg CD sets, every effort was made to make these concerts sound decent.
Rating: 8/10

trapeze you are the musicYou Are The Music…We’re Just The Band (1972)
The band’s follow up to Medusa was this  funk/soul tinged album. While it can be applauded that the band didn’t go back and record another Medusa, the funk/soul sound is a bit overwhelming at times- especially on the slower tunes. Glenn Hughes really gets to showcase his soulful singing chops on this album- possibly a pre-cursor to what he would do with Deep Purple later in the decade. Despite the funk/soul influence, the production on this album is superb and suites the music just fine. While funk inspired, the band does leave plenty of room for guitar heavy hard rockers. Overall, a solid follow up.

Highlights: Keepin’ Time, Loser, You Are The Music, Way Back to the Bone, Feelin’ So Much Better Now
Bonus tracks: A few non-album songs, along with a performance from Radio One In Concert and a live show in Houston. As with Medusa, the live recordings aren’t top notch quality.
Rating: 7/10

Packaging and liner notes
All three albums have been housed in thick double digi-pack cases- decorated with pictures of band and cover art for the singles. With the exception of Medusa, the albums come with a booklet filled with pictures and new liner notes written by journalist Malcolm Dome. Medusa does comes with liner notes but they are placed on the back of a mini replica of a retro concert poster- which might be difficult for some people to read. In the liner notes, it seems that Dome was able to conduct new interviews with several members of the band. Despite the deaths of Mel Galley in 2008 and Dave Holland in 2018, Glenn Hughes and John Jones were interviewed- although Jones was only needed for the first album. For the second and third album, Hughes and Galley’s brother Tom (who co-wrote several of the songs) are interviewed- along with other people connected to the band during this time.

Overall Thoughts
As a whole, these reissues of the first three Trapeze album are solid. However, these reissues aren’t without their downsides. You might have noticed that I haven’t really talked about the bonus tracks offered on these reissues. Here’s the thing: while it’s nice of the label to offer this to the customer, a majority of the people buying these might just be interested in the actual albums. As of now on Amazon, the debut is priced at $22.99 while the other two are $31.45 each. With the exception of Medusa, these albums are seeing their first remaster/reissue in 15 or 16 years. These albums aren’t easy to obtain easily on hard copy. I think if the three albums had been offered as a clam shell packaged box set- with several bonus tracks per an album and a nice big booklet to have the liner notes in- that would’ve been more convenient. That could’ve been called The Threshold Years– which works perfectly given that those were the only albums Trapeze released on the label.  The live material, while not bad at all, could’ve been a separate release called The Official Bootleg Series– which Cherry Red have done before. Then again, people can go on iTunes and get the main albums.

While a lot of material to take in, these are good reissues. However, I would recommend them to diehard Glenn Hughes and/or Trapeze fans. If you don’t mind paying the combined price of $85 for these albums, then go for it.

 

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Aaron ConnAlbum Review: Trapeze Discography (1970-72)