Trapeze – Medusa (Review)

Trapeze - Medusa
Trapeze – Medusa

For many years I knew Trapeze as a historical footnote and not much else. Usually prefixed with “ex-” as former members Glenn Hughes (bassist and “Voice of Rock”), the late Mel Galley (guitar/vocals) and Dave Holland (drums) all moved on to higher profile gigs with other bands. Hughes joined Deep Purple, Galley appeared in Whitesnake and Holland served time in Judas Priest before… well… serving time.

In the early ’00s, a run of brilliant Glenn Hughes solo albums finally inspired me to investigate his old band. Medusa was Trapeze’s second album but the first to feature its most famous power trio line-up of Hughes/Galley/Holland. It was released in late 1970 and, as was often the case with the era’s Hard Rockers, it’s an album of light and shade. This means Led Zep often come up as a comparison but I hear more of a Free influence, especially in groovy Rockers like Black Cloud and Touch My Life. Although the funky, stop-start rhythms of Your Love is Alright get a little bit frustrating the band sound tight and confident, leaving plenty of space for everyone’s contributions to be heard. And with the tasteful exception of Mel Galley’s guitar jamming on Makes You Wanna Cry, there is very little instrumental showboating on Medusa which leaves the focus squarely on Glenn’s superb voice.

It’s fascinating to hear him at this early stage, with a rawer tone and delivery that brings to mind Paul Rodgers and Steve Marriott. And his voice is even more remarkable in the album’s longer tracks. Jury, Seafull and the title-track have a more progressive feel. Pastoral acoustic passages build up to intense, heavy climaxes that would appeal to fans of Uriah Heep or early Judas Priest. When Glenn employs his full vocal range at the climax of Jury the results are spine-chilling.

Medusa is an album of real maturity and depth from a group with tangible chemistry. Before going their separate ways, Trapeze would record one more excellent studio album and enjoy some live success in the US but it’s a shame their recorded output didn’t achieve more success or recognition. While it’s unsurprising that the musicians involved went on to bigger things, together they deserved way more than footnote status.

2008 Edition on Ork Records. Great remaster and liner notes
2008 Edition on Ork Records. Great remaster and liner notes

39 thoughts on “Trapeze – Medusa (Review)”

  1. Oh, you’re talkin’ my language now! 🙂 I backtracked to this after buying ‘Burn’ in 74, and this is the album where the ‘power trio’ defined their brand of heavy funk -laced rock. the next album ‘You are the Music’ would surely have catapulted them in to the big time if fate hadnt intervened and took first Glenn to DP, then Dave Holland to Judas Priest, then Mel to Whitesnake. But. for me, the whole Trapeze catalogue from Medusa on in is worth investigating. ‘Hot wire’ particularly, with Mel on lead vocals, is a stunning attempt to keep the ball rolling, something that would seem impossible losing a talent as immense as Hughes. Weirdly, this week, i’ve been playing ‘Your love is alright’ on bass!


  2. Awesome! I had a notion you’d like this one! I love “You Are the Music” too and I’m sure I’ll review that one soon. I think this one slightly edges it for me cause I love the epic stuff! Jury is such a stunning track.

    That’s good to know about the later stuff. I’ll have a look for “Hot Wire”. I like Mel’s voice on this album so that bodes well. Have you ever heard the debut album with the five-piece line-up? Is that any good?


    1. I had it once…perhaps the best way to describe it is: it’s feet are in the 60’s. The single ‘Semd me no more letters’ is good, but because they have a different lead singer, Glenn has yet to find his voice. In interesting curio for me, but no more.


      1. I always imagined it would be quite Moody Blues-ish. Is that about right? Did Glenn sing much on that one? I don’t he’s quite found his own vocal style on Medusa either even though he sings brilliantly.


      1. Galley was heavily involved with his brother Tom’s ‘Pheomena’ project:

        If you can find it. there’s a great vinyl ‘best of’ of Trapeze called The Final Swing that has 2 unreleased Glenn tracks on, released just after he joined Purple. Mel Galley & Dave Holland also feature on Hughes’ first solo album, ‘Play me Out’. After Whitesnake he formed MGM , but I don’t think they recorded anything.


      2. Thanks for the info. I’ll definitely investigate these guys more. I’ve got “Play Me Out”, that’s a great album. Really grown on me over the years… hadn’t even realised the Trapeze guys were all on that one!


      3. I have the first Phenomena on cassette. I’d like a CD or an LP. One of Glenn’s greatest hits albums has some of the best songs on it, like Phoenix Rising and Still the Night.


  3. I listened to the track before I read your blog. Was thinking first Blackfoot then some Aerosmith and Uriah Heep….guess it was before Aerosmith though.


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