❉ Three discs of rare and unreleased live shows make this boxed set worth the purchase alone, writes James R Turner.
Let’s clear up some confusion before we start. Whilst this new Trapeze box, Don’t Stop the Music, is labelled ‘Complete Recordings Vol 1 1970 –1992’, this demarcation doesn’t make it immediately clear to the casual buyer that it only includes the first three Trapeze albums (self-titled debut, Medusa and You Are The Music…We’re Just The Band) before Glenn Hughes left to join Deep Purple in June 1973. (Luckily Purple Records/Cherry Red have announced the second box in this series, Midnight Flyers – The Complete Recordings Volume 2 1974-1981).
Not to mention the fact that, it doesn’t include the bonus discs that accompanied the 2020 remasters of the first three albums; however, the added bonuses here for the more casual Trapeze fan is a previously unreleased, entire concert from Dallas in 1973 and the reunion gig from 1992 which has been out of print for over twenty years.
Whereas the individual special editions of the first three Trapeze albums will cost you £56.97 from Cherry Red’s official store, this immaculately packaged six-disc boxed set only sets you back £30.99, with the additional incentive of those two shows unavailable elsewhere. For those fans who aren’t completists, this really isn’t selling the band’s legacy short.
If you would like to know my thoughts on of the first three albums, my reviews for We Are Cult of the special editions can be found here.
The additional three discs, which are worth the purchase of the box alone, start with a complete concert from Dallas recorded on 27 April 1973 making its official debut on CD, and over these two discs, you get nine tracks spanning the band’s entire career. Hughes, Galley & Holland are absolutely on fire throughout this concert, and it captures them at the absolute peak of their power.
The quality of a live album always depends on the enthusiasm of the crowd, and you can tell from the opening power of Way Back to the Bone that this crowd absolutely love Trapeze, and in front of an audience that is really into it, the band really deliver. Deliver they do, with barnstorming versions of You Are the Music, Jury, Keepin’ Time and Medusa amongst others, and the way the trio interact with each other musically is a joy to listen to. You can tell these are three musicians who instinctively know how to work with each other, and indeed work a crowd and these two discs are an absolute delight from start to finish.
Rounding the set off is Trapeze’s last hurrah (so far!), an unexpected reunion gig from 1992 after Hughes had cleaned up his act (and having seen him in 1994 on a solo tour I can confirm live he had lost none of his powerful vocals) and joining Holland and Galley was keyboard player Geoffrey Downes (Yes, Asia). Recorded at the Borderline in London on 16 May 1992, in front of a crowd who probably couldn’t quite believe what they were about to see, this epic set, released on CD for the first time since 1998 captures a band who have lost none of their power, and had matured as performers over the many years in other bands. They bring that experience to the material they last played together nearly twenty years before.
This is no reunion for reunion’s sake, instead you get a band as powerful as the 1973 concert shows and what could be a nostalgia-fest is instead a celebration of fantastic songwriting. You can tell the band are enjoying it as much as the audience, with Hughes every inch the lead singer. As a listener you sense the energy the band are getting from the audience, which feeds back into the performance. The way tracks like You are the Music, Way Back to the Bone, Midnight Flyer and Black Cloud are received by the audience is a testament to the power of the original band, and this live return is a valedictory triumph.
The three-piece of Galley, Holland and Hughes played their last shows together in 1994, and with the death of Mel Galley in 2008 and Dave Holland in 2018, Glenn Hughes is the last surviving member of the classic line-up.
With remastered sound and a 36-page booklet that reproduces the sleeve notes from the special editions by the legendary Malcolm Dome and includes in-depth recollections from band members Glenn Hughes and Mel Galley, this box is an excellent collection and one that will appeal to fans of the band as well as providing the perfect introduction to anyone who’s curious as to who Trapeze were.
They were only the greatest English rock band never to break through, that’s who.
❉ Trapeze: “Don’t Stop The Music: Complete Recordings Volume 1 (1970-1992)” (Purple Records/Cherry Red Records PURPLEBOX029) was released 24 February 2023 by Cherry Red Group, RRP £30.99. Cherry Red Records have been releasing and reissuing the most innovative and independent thinking music since 1978. Follow them on Twitter or visit their site.
❉ James R. Turner is a music and media journalist. Over the last 25 years he has contributed to the Classic Rock Society magazine, BBC online, Albion Online, The Digital Fix, DPRP, Progarchy, ProgRadar and more. James lives in North Somerset with his fiancee Charlotte, their Westie Dilys & Ridgeback Freja, three cats and too many CDs, records & Blu-Rays.