High Flyers: The Best of Trapeze

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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia

As the only simultaneously thorough and concise Trapeze anthology available to the public at large, High Flyers: The Best of Trapeze efficiently summarizes the British hard rock also-rans' career, but it's far from a perfect summation. Primarily because, rather thoughtlessly, High Flyers opens (and almost shuts!) Trapeze's case for belated respectability with two versions (U.K. and U.S.) of their 1970 single "Send Me No More Letters," a dated mish-mash of melodramatic vocal harmonies, orchestral strings, and flower power nonsense featuring soon-to-be ousted founding vocalist John Jones and organist Terry Rowley. But with that musical misnomer out of the way, the spotlight can be properly refocused on the remaining power trio -- vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes, guitarist Mel Galley, and drummer Dave Holland, and their initially gruff, tough, and exceptionally bluesy heavy rock workmanship. At least until the soft rock rot sets in… Drawn from Trapeze's underrated sophomore album Medusa released late in 1970, "Your Love Is Alright" previews Hughes' funky contributions to Deep Purple MKIII years later, while "Black Cloud" shares the muscular economy of Free (and later Bad Company), and the title track borders on prog rock with its gentle acoustic guitar bookends and bombastic center. Next in line, 1972's extensively named You Are the Music…We're Just the Band casts the band "rocking out" in front of a festival audience on its cover, but its contents astoundingly swerved toward soft rock terrain: at first tentatively via the lukewarm (but not quite offensive) California feel of "Coast to Coast," but then in more damning fashion with the hotel lounge atrocity "Will Our Love End," before finally showing a little bite on the title cut's athletic funk workout. And then it was off to Deep Purple for Glenn Hughes, so Trapeze's next release (and the last touched upon here) was to have been 1974's The Final Swing compilation, which featured two previously unreleased tracks recorded during Hughes' tenure: yet another ready-made Muzak candidate in "Good Love," and the much more palatable, once again supremely funky "Dat's It." All of these tunes ultimately confirm the lack of creative focus that kept Trapeze hidden in the shadows of the early-‘70s truly iconic hard rock outfits (Sabbath, Purple, Zeppelin; heck, even Uriah Heep!), and makes one realize that High Flyers' compact anthologizing is just about all that one needs to hear, after all.

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