Trapeze—MEDUSA (1970)

220px-medusatrapezeAssigned by Charles Caloia

Reviewed by Roland Bruynesteyn

Never heard of this group. It was apparently an English group, and this was their second album. Trapeze is a power trio on this album, as they lost both their lead singer and keyboardist after the debut album.

The cover looks a little as if Picasso wanted to redo the iconic first King Crimson cover, but the music has nothing whatsoever to do with King Crimson. In the hard rock spectrum, they are more on the Americana end than on the dark, proggy end, and indeed they were more successful in the (Southern) United States than in their home country England.

Because Glenn Hughes, the bass player (and one of two singers) also plays (rudimentary) piano, the sound is actually a little fuller than you’d expect. A few years later, Glenn would join Deep Purple for some time and this album does sound more classic Deep Purplish than Deep Purple’s first three albums.

This is hard rock as played in 1970. For some reason, the first track (Black Cloud), also the single at the time, strongly reminds me of the Black Crowes, circa Amorica. Could be the vocals. In other tracks, like Your Love Is Alright, the singer goes in full Robert Plant mode, failing as a carbon copy, but definitely getting the energy across. Actually, the drummer may be the weakest link when they try to emulate Led Zeppelin. In other places (Touch My Life) they do resemble Paul Rodgers and Free.

The way most songs start as ballads and then soon become ‘trad hard rock’ becomes a little predictable, but overall this is a nice little album. Is this album essential? No, definitely not. It is not a forgotten masterpiece, and, even for lovers of the genre, it would probably not be in your top 20. It is neither hard enough nor sophisticated enough. If you compare it to, say, Death Walks Behind You by Atomic Rooster, the better musicians, the better production and the greater variation of the latter album beat Trapeze to a pulp.

But I like it! It goes to show that even second-rate artists that may lack originality and major instrumental or compositional talent could turn out nice little albums in the first half of the 70’s. With nice guitar work and some great singing, it is a little nugget that is not out of place in a larger collection of 70’s music, which is why I will buy this at some time in the future.

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