Trapeze – ‘Midnight Flyers-Complete Recordings Vol. 2 1974-1981’
Cherry Red Records completes their survey of the complete works of UK hard rock band Trapeze with the five disc box set ‘Midnight Flyers’ which picks up the group’s saga following the departure of bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes to join Deep Purple in 1973.
The collection includes three studio albums released between 1974 and 1979 and live performances from 1975, 1976 and 1981, the second taken from a reunion of Trapeze’s definitive lineup of Mel Galley (lead guitar and vocals), Dave Holland (drums) and Hughes (bass guitar, vocals) and the last the only recording released by the band with drummer Steve Bray, who came on board when Holland left to join heavy metal legends Judas Priest.
Disc one combines the two LPs, ‘Hot Wire’ (1974) and ‘Trapeze’ (1975) recorded by the quartet of Mel Galley (lead guitar and lead vocals), Rob Kendrick (lead guitar and backing vocals), Pete Wright (bass guitar and backing vocals) and Dave Holland (drums), with Galley’s guitar occupying the left channel and Kendrick’s the right, reminiscent of the twin lead guitar (Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop) period of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. The albums appeared on the WEA label, while the band’s sound moved in a heavier direction on these recordings. The first LP, produced by Neil Slaven and the band, contains ten tracks all written by Mel and Tom Galley with Dave Holland receiving co-writing credit on one. The long player is highlighted by the collections’ title track ‘Midnight Flyer’ a six minute hard rocker with original member Terry Rowley contributing synthesizer and a nearly nine minute take on album closer ‘Feel It Inside’ showcasing Galley’s slide guitar and solos, with Rowley adding electric piano on the funky rocker. ‘Trapeze’, produced by Steve Smith, contains ten shorter tracks, with Mel Galley writing or co-writing nine. The LP is most notable for Glenn Hughes’ appearance on two tunes, ‘Chances’ and ‘Nothing For Nothing’, contributing vocals on both and co-writing the former with Tom & Mel Galley, the only collaboration between Hughes and Galley in the Trapeze catalog.
Disc two contains 1979’s ‘Hold On’, released after the band had temporarily disbanded, before reforming with Galley, Holland and Wright joined by future Uriah Heep member Pete Goalby taking over on lead vocals and rhythm guitar. The band produced LP appeared on Aura Records and contained six tunes penned by Mel Galley, without brother Tom, and three by Goalby. The group sounds funkier with pop influences on the recording. Standouts include the album opener ‘Don’t Ask Me How I Know’, a Goalby composition, with memorable slide work by Galley, the heavy blues rock title track written by Galley, showcasing his lead line and solo, and Goalby’s closer ‘Time Will Heal’, another heavy blues rocker displaying Galley’s guitar. Although the LP was highly praised by critics, sadly it would prove to be the final studio release credited to Trapeze.
Disc three comprises ‘Live At The Boat Club’ recorded on September 13, 1975 by the Galley, Holland, Kendrick and Wright lineup, with Terry Rowley adding synthesizer. The band delivers a hard rocking performance with a mixture of classic Trapeze, ‘Black Cloud’ and the title track from ‘Medusa’ along with ‘Way Back To The Bone’ and the title track of ‘You Are The Music…We’re Just The Band’ with newer material, ‘Back Street Love’ from ‘Hot Wire’ as well as ‘Star Breaker’, ‘Sunny Side Of The Street’ and ‘The Raid’ from ‘Trapeze’.
Disc four is taken from a September 12, 1976 reunion show by the definitive Trapeze lineup of Mel Galley, Glenn Hughes and Dave Holland. Performances include ‘Seafull’, ‘Jury’ and the title track from ‘Medusa’ and ‘Coast To Coast’, ‘Way Back To The Bone’ and the title track from ‘You Are The Music…We’re Just The Band’ along with ‘Midnight Flyer’ from ‘Hot Wire’ and a take on the Hughes penned non-Trapeze track ‘L.A. Cutoff’. The band sounds as tight and fresh as they had before Hughes’ departure, a reminder of what might have been.
Disc five contains ‘Live In Texas-Dead Armadillos’ recorded in May 1981 at the Opry House in Austin, Texas by the lineup of Mel Galley (guitar, vocals), Pete Wright (bass) and Peter Goalby (vocals), with Steve Bray on drums. The band performs highlights from the Trapeze catalog. Included are takes on ‘Back Street Love’ from ‘Hot Wire’, the title track from ‘Hold On’, and ‘Midnight Flyer’ from the self-titled 1975 LP, along with classics ‘Black Cloud’ from ‘Medusa’ and ‘Way Back To The Bone’ and the title track from ‘You Are The Music…We’re Just The Band’. The quartet runs effortlessly through the set which was released on Aura Records in 1981 and is a fitting close to the box set and Cherry Red’s reissuing of Trapeze’s recorded legacy.
The five discs of ‘Midnight Flyers-Complete Recordings Volume Two 1974-1981’ come in cardboard mini-LP sleeves which fit snugly into the clamshell box. The set includes a twenty page full color booklet with liner notes from 2003 by Mel Galley, band photos, album artwork, posters and other memorabilia. Trapeze sounds better than ever thanks to the mastering job by Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham. The set will appeal to fans of Trapeze as well as hard and classic rock and comes highly recommended.
Trapeze – ‘Midnight Flyers-Complete Recordings Vol. 2 1974-1981’ (Purple Records, 2023)
Trapeze: Don’t Stop The Music – Complete Recordings Vol. 1 – 1970-1992