For early-‘70s British band Trifle, their First Meeting unfortunately proved to be their last. Fronted by singer/guitarist George Bean, the group only lasted long enough to make one album, which falls squarely into the "early prog" realm of bands like Colosseum and the Alan Bown, who relied more on jazz licks, R&B-based grooves, and post-psychedelic songwriting than on the shifting time signatures and orchestral rock epics that typified prog's full flowering. Accordingly, much of the heavy lifting on First Meeting is done by the horn section, though there's some fairly prominent organ work throughout as well. Still, even on the album's arguable centerpiece, the eight-minute "Is It Loud," there's nary an instance of self-indulgent soloing to be found; instead, ensemble work is the name of the game; in fact, there are moments on this track where Trifle achieves an almost Zappa-esque sound.
But for all the arty/jazzy moves to be found on First Meeting, Trifle still keeps one foot in old-school rock & roll, as on "Old Fashioned Prayer Meeting," with guitar and piano pushing back at the horns for a distinctly R&B-influenced feel that could have found its way onto a contemporaneous album by the likes of, say, Chris Farlowe. The propulsive "Devil Comin'," driven along by fervent guitar strumming and tribal-sounding tom-toms, is one of the least horn-centric tunes, feeling more like a quirky Cream outtake. The original LP's closing track, "Candle Light," offers another unexpected turn, presenting a gently melodic acoustic-guitar-based ballad that seems like it was begging to be slathered with vocal harmonies and recorded by the Hollies. Like so many of the promising artists who recorded for the Pye label's Dawn imprint, Trifle never achieved a level of success that matched their skills, but at least the 2010 Cherry Red/Esoteric reissue of their lone album -- which appends both a 45 version of "Old Fashioned Prayer Meeting" and its B-side, a cover of Ewan MacColl's "Dirty Old Town" -- gives 21st century listeners a chance to experience First Meeting for themselves.