Review Summary: One of the 70s most underappreciated hard rock albums involving members of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest and Whitesnake.
Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Whitesnake and Trapeze… What do all these bands have in common? In one period or another, all shared the same members. Glenn Hughes, the bass player and lead singer of Trapeze, enjoyed a glorious career in the commercially and musically significant Mk. III and IV Deep Purple line-ups as well as one collaboration with Black Sabbath in their 1986 outing, Seventh Star
. Dave Holland was Judas Priest’s drummer for almost all their albums in the 1980s while Mel Galley went on to record Saints & Sinners
and Slide It In
with David Coverdale’s Whitesnake.
The band originally began as a five-piece with a trumpet player and an additional guitar and released their eponymous debut in 1970; interestingly enough, the band released their sophomore effort within the same year. However, despite the short time frame between the two albums, the musical differences are very noticeable. Their debut Trapeze
is a lot more influenced by the Brit psychedelic scene with a focus on a pop/rock sound with a few lush moments that brings to the listener’s mind the early days of Deep Purple or even bands such as The Moody Blues and Captain Beyond. Without a doubt, Trapeze had managed to record a very interesting debut but as it is apparent now, the band was looking to experiment more with its sound.
is the band’s second outing but the first to feature the Hughes/Holland/Galley power trio. This album is more influenced by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Free and consequently relies on a more heavy blues rock sound. Those who are familiar with Glenn Hughes’ work, will surely have associated him with funky rhythms and screaming vocals. Even though both of these elements exist in Medusa
, the listener can also find exceptional guitar work, solid drumming and most of all, one of the most soulful performances by Glenn Hughes. Some may argue that Trapeze’s sound is unpolished and Hughes’ vocal delivery is not as mature as in the latter stages of his career but on this album you can listen to some of the best moments of his career.
Even though the band performs very well on hard rockers such as the opening “Black Cloud” with its acoustic verse that turns to harsh chorus or “Touch My Life” that sounds like an outtake of Deep Purple’s Stormbringer
, it’s the slower tracks that lift the album. “Jury”, probably the highlight of the album, could have been part of Sad Wings of Destiny
with its gloomy and doomy atmosphere and Glenn Hughes’ haunting vocal delivery full of agony and frustration. “Seafull” and “Medusa” are also two stand-out tracks mainly due to Hughes’ intense performance and Galley’s bluesy guitar playing. A particular highlight of the title track is Dave Holland’s drumming; it’s a shame that he ended his career the way he did. Those of you who seek for the funkier moments of the album, look no further than “Your Love is Alright” and “Makes You Wanna Cry”. Both songs are groovy while “Makes You Wanna Cry” features a noticeable bass riff by Glenn Hughes.
Despite the fact that the band never made it big in the UK, they managed to enjoy success in the US market and at one point John Bonham called them the best three piece band he had seen. Even though Medusa
might not be a classic in a sense that albums like In Rock
, or Led Zeppelin II
are, it is an excellent offering by an underrated band that belongs in every rock enthusiast’s collection. It features all the elements that a solid hard rock album should contain with a slight twist, courtesy of Motown admirer Glenn Hughes.