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Trapeze

Trapeze (2 CD Expanded Edition)

Review by Gary Hill

This new release is a double CD version of the 1970 self-titled debut by the band Trapeze. They are often considered a progressive rock band, or at least proto-prog act, and this release shows that off better than some of the rest. There is a lot of psychedelia at play here, too. The main album is pretty classy, but also rather dated in sound. Still, it works well and doesn't do a bad job in terms of holding up even today. For me, though, some of the bonus tracks on the second disc steal the show. This new digipack includes the two CDs along with a nice booklet. The capitalization in the track by track review is in keeping with the stylization on the cover of the set.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
DISC ONE: TRAPEZE (1970)
                    
It's Only a Dream

Gentle and suitably dreamy music is on display and serves as the backdrop for the vocals. That backdrop feels like tuned percussion meets keyboards. The song is less than a minute and serves as an introduction to the album.

The Giant's Dead Hoorah!
Psychedelic rock, prog and more merge on this cool piece. It has a nice balance between mellower and more rocking things. It shifts and changes quite a bit.
Over
Set in much the same territory as the previous cut, there is so much 1960s psychedelia woven into this thing. It definitely lands in proto-prog zones.
Nancy Gray
More of a balladic tune, this definitely hits both the psychedelic and prog spots. It's not my favorite song here, but it has some intriguing things going on.
Fairytale, Verily, Verily, Fairytale
This cut is the epic of the set at over seven-and-a-half minutes long. More of a rocking piece, this has a theatrical vibe to the first movement. Psychedelia is all over it. The track drops to a piano solo movement, and eventually works out to a folk kind of sound for the next vocal section. The number grows outward into an almost Beatles-like psychedelic movement. Eventually we get sort of a false ending. Then the piece rises up into a cool 1960s rocking groove from there.
It's My Life
This tune has plenty of psychedelic rock built into it. Add in some proggy elements and you have the basic premise here. This is a pretty effective piece of music.
Am I
More purely prog rock based, this is a powerful piece of music. It has some psychedelic rock in the mix, though. I love the guitar work on this. It's among the best of the set. The tune has some evocative story-telling, too.
Suicide
The rocking psychedelic prog that drives this is among the most effective of the set. In fact, I think this is my favorite piece on the album. I love the bass work on this thing. The whole tune just oozes cool, though. The drop back to a bass dominated sound is classy, and things turn decidedly dark and twisted from there.
Wings
The main riff on this is tastefully quirky. This is another cut that deftly combines progressive rock and psychedelia with a lot of style and charm.
Another Day
Starting rather balladic, this grows to a mellower psychedelic prog piece.
Send Me No Letters
A string arrangement starts this cut. It rises up from there with psychedelic style in charge. I like the vocal hooks on the tune.
It's Only a Dream - Reprise
As you can imagine, this is a return to the musical themes that opened the album. It serves as a bookend to the release.
DISC TWO: BONUS DISC
               
Send Me No Letters (UK Single Version)

This version is actually a few seconds longer than the album version. I don't hear a big difference between the two songs.

Send Me No Letters (US Single Version)
Now, this is a couple minutes shorter than the version that appears on the album. I guess you could look at it as a "highlights" cut, but isn't that what singles really are. It has a lot more of a pop feeling to it in this format, but again you'd expect that of a single.
Across the Water, Across the Sea (Demo)
This is a very cool piece. It showcase a harder rocking sound that makes me think of things like Uriah Heep and Deep Purple in a rather big way. Of course, Hughes would later be part of Deep Purple. This still has plenty of prog tendencies built into it, but much of the psychedelia of the album proper seems to be missing. There is a cool section where they ramp up the intensity and pace. That section does bring more of that psychedelic angle to play, but not to the same degree as on that first disc.
Seafull (Demo)
Dramatic slow moving blues rock merged with prog and psychedelia is at the heart of this tune. It's so powerful and classy. There is more of that Deep Purple element here, too. In fact, this makes me think of "Child In Time" to a large degree.  I love the guitar work on this number. This might be a demo, but it might also be my favorite tune of the whole set. I love the organ sound on this, and the contrast between mellower and more rocking modes is exceptional.
New Life Again (Demo)
Nine-and-a-half-minutes long, this is an epic. It's also a masterpiece. This is another of my favorites on the whole set. It has such great twists and turns built into it. It's a powerhouse that showcases both real prog and plenty of psychedelic textures. It's quite a ride.
40,000 Voices (Demo)
A powerful and dramatic introduction brings us in here. The cut works forward from there with some cool piano over the top. Then it drops down to a psychedelic section for the entrance of the vocals.
BBC SESSIONS (1969)
                      
Intro / Send Me No More Letters

There is a spoken introduction to this, including an appearance by John Lodge of the Moody Blues. The single tune comes in from there. They put in a good performance of the tune.

Another Day
This tune has a bit of that Uriah Heep vibe in this live telling. I really enjoy this number a lot.
Send Me No More Letters
I'm guessing this is from a different BBC session because I can't imagine they did the same song twice in a set of three songs. This is a solid performance, but not really anything to make it stand out from the other versions.
COLOUR ME POP (1969)
            
Intro
This is a spoken introduction, but you probably gather that. It's short.
Magic Carpet Ride
They put in an unusual performance of the Steppenwolf classic. It loses a lot of the harder edges and takes on more of groove vibe. This takes a little getting used to, but it's fun.
Meet on the Ledge
Here Trapeze turn their attention to a song from Fairport Convention. Interestingly enough, I'm most familiar with the tune because the band Greta Van Fleet, and this version really makes me think of that one. It's a classy tune.
Open My Eyes
This is a psychedelic rocker that's a lot of fun. It has some trippy elements and a good energy.
 
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