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Trapeze: You Are The Music... We’re Just The Band - Album Of The Week Club review

After the blues rock of Medusa, Trapeze shifted in a funkier, more soulful direction for You Are The Music... We’re Just The Band, supplying Glenn Hughes with the style that would define his career

Trapeze: You Are The Music, We’re Just The Band
(Image: © Lemon)
Trapeze: You Are The Music, We’re Just The Band

Trapeze: You Are The Music, We’re Just The Band

(Image credit: Lemon)

Keepin' Time
Coast To Coast
What Is A Woman's Role
Way Back To The Bone
Feelin' So Much Better Now
Will Our Love End
Loser
You Are The Music

You all know the story: Before he joined Deep Purple, Glenn Hughes was the bass-playing frontman of power trio Trapeze. But Hughes wasn't the the only star in the band. Drummer Dave Holland spent a decade in Judas Priest after Trapeze called it a day, while guitarist Mel Galley went on to star on Whitesnake's American breakthrough album Slide It In.

Formed in Cannock, Staffordshire, in 1969, Trapeze released two albums  (a self-titled debut in May 1970 and Medusa late the same year) before their 1972 collection You Are The Music… We’re Just The Band – a mix of solid rock, sultry ballads, and heavy rolling, James Brown-style shakedowns – took them to the cusp of stardom and put Hughes on Ritchie Blackmore's radar. 

King's X guitarist Ty Tabor told us, "This album for just straight-ahead rock’n’roll guitar is quite possibly the most overlooked rock guitar album of all-time. Brilliant guitar playing, rhythm-wise and tone-wise. An off-the-charts performance from Trapeze all round."

It was also genuinely soulful. "If people revisit You Are The Music… We’re Just The Band, they can listen to the shift in gear from [second album] Medusa and see how soulful things were becoming," Hughes told us.  

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Other albums released in December 1972

  • Octopus - Gentle Giant
  • Piledriver - Status Quo
  • The Grand Wazoo - Frank Zappa
  • Made in Japan - Deep Purple
  • R.E.O./T.W.O. - REO Speedwagon
  • World Woven - The Ides Of March
  • Framed - Sensational Alex Harvey Band

What they said...

"Atmospheric sax and liquid electric piano give the crooning Will Our Love End a jazzy quality, while Loser is a heavy, funkified affair that sounds like it could have come off a Grand Funk Railroad album from the same time period. Galley's guitar solos are just plain dirty and nasty here, as he shows what an unknown talent he really was." (Sea Of Tranquility)

"Vocalist Glenn Hughes takes the lead on most tracks, and is very effective as long as he stays in his low range; on the rock tracks he uses his higher register, which tends to have a squealing or screechy tone. Those who only know Hughes from his subsequent work with Deep Purple may be surprised to hear his warm, soulful work on this disc, which was his last with Trapeze." (AllMusic)

"It can be ever so easy to forget that this monumental music is played by only three musicians. The name Glenn Hughes introduces itself. But it’s also hats off to the two players who are no longer with us as Mel Galley classily fills the speakers with his sure and sophisticated hands. Not forgetting drummer Dave Holland holding the whole show down with not inconsiderable guile and feel." (National Rock Review)

What you said...

Alex Hayes: Trapeze are a band whose legacy will always be somewhat mixed. Whatever their achievements and merits as a musical collective, they will forever be just as well renowned in classic rock circles for being that band whose principal members all later went on to bigger and better things. Unfortunate, but true.

Glenn Hughes to Deep Purple, Dave Holland to Judas Priest, and Mel Galley to Whitesnake (eventually). As a big fan of all three of those titans of classic rock, I'll always be grateful to the Trapeze 'conveyor belt' of talent. Its contribution to those respective groups, and to the wider rock community, is considerable. However, when it comes to the band itself, and its recorded output, I can take it or leave it, to be honest.

For the first time in years earlier today, I gave both 1970's Medusa and 72's You Are The Music... We're Just The Band a spin. My opinion hasn't changed much down the years. They are decent enough albums and, bloody hell, these guys simply ooze talent, but it's music that just doesn't excite me as much as I feel it should for some reason.

Glenn Hughes' funk and soul leanings are quite to the forefront in places here certainly, but that isn't the issue. I can appreciate the artistic vision on display here, even if I admire it more than 'dig' it, so to speak.

There really isn't anything specifically wrong with these albums. I've seen some criticism directed at the production, but they sound perfectly fine to me. I'll confess to being a bit of an audiophile myself sometimes, but obviously not in this case (and, frankly, it's modern rock music and the 'loudness war' that incurs my everlasting wrath much more in that regard). For the early 70's, this doesn't sound bad at all.

I'd probably give Medusa a slight edge over You Are The Music... We're Just The Band. Only marginally, though. These are both reasonable records that benefit from superb musicianship. They just don't resonate with me as much as they undoubtedly will others.

Hai Kixmiller: On You Are The Music... We're Just The Band, Glenn Hughes' five distinctive compositions, with their slower, groovy, sultry, soulfulness, are a Trapeze trademark, while Galley's three contributions are more bouncy, hard rocking, metal works factory-influenced. All that coupled with the band's funk flavours is what set Trapeze apart from their fellow contemporary, English hard rock acts.

Trapeze's ample gushes of funk and soul makes them sound more like an American act than an English one. While their contemporaries pounded out classic hard rock standards full of jazzy, bluesy, influenced sound, Trapeze were making music that was more akin to the sensibility of black American and Southern rock acts. In America, black music was good, white music was good, but together they were great. Together, they were rock'n'roll. Trapeze took that rock'n'roll and infused some funk and swagger in it. And look out, sucka, the fuse was lit.

You Are The Music... We're Just The Band is a well-rounded offering. Hard rock, blues, soul, funk, jazz, R&B, this album is a sonic amalgamation of everything that makes you wanna jump up and down, sway to the beat, and play air guitar or air drums.

Why on earth Glenn Hughes ever wanted to venture out with Deep Purple and lose the magic that was, and will always be, one of the greatest rock'n'roll tragedies. This is something that even he laments about to this day. (Actually, the possibility of working with Paul Rodgers in Deep Purple is why Glenn walked away from Trapeze. I can only imagine his disappointment when Paul decided, to work on his new project, Bad Co., instead of joining Deep Purple. At least David Coverdale wasn't a slouch to work with, but that's another review.)

Greg Schwepe: With Spotify I have finally gotten to listen to some Trapeze, having become aware of them from Glenn Hughes interviews. This album comes out of gate pretty rockin', while some other Trapeze albums I'd listened to are a little flat. Plus, that cover photo just gives the impression that those people are listening to a kick-ass band at a festival. And after listening to the album, they probably are!

David Cichocki: Despite owning a lot of Glenn stuff and seeing him on multiple occasions, I have been bored at a number of his more funky shows. Never having got around to Trapeze, somehow, it amazes how a Midlands band are so West Coast and yes, sometimes funky. It's a a cracking rock record though. Mel Galley flourishes and Mr Hughes shows all his vocal power. It has an album title that in the day should have been huge! Lovely record, no pretensions, just of the day and maybe ahead of it.

Bill Griffin: Another sub-par production. I intensely dislike all the highs being rolled off of guitar tracks, especially in the studio (I understand why it's done in the live setting but, with multi-track recording, it's not needed in a studio). They sound like they were recorded through a pillow; just dead. Consequently, I do not particularly enjoy the rockers on this album except for the final two tracks. The slower numbers were okay, though.

Mark Burd: Before this week, I’ve heard Trapeze exactly zero times. This review comes from a first time listener’s perspective.

First off, credit where it’s due. There’s no denying that this lengthily titled album contains a wealth of talent. That said, talent and skilful musicianship doesn’t always equate to a masterfully crafted work of art. Instead, we have one filled with highs and lows and a confused hybrid of hard rock, funk, soul, blues, and pop. While I greatly enjoy multifaceted albums with ebbs and flows in their style, this one didn’t thrill me in the ways others have.

The album has a lot of soul to it. You can tell that Trapeze are feeling their grooves and are really into it. Way Back To The Bone” really rocks, yet the laid back Coast To Coast and funky What Is A Woman’s Role meander a bit. Glenn Hughes’ voice, while not awful and quite emotive, definitely isn’t for me. The mellow Will Our Love End is a really chill song that lets Hughes get soulful, but some of his trills fall a little flat in an otherwise really nice song with beautiful, subtle saxophone melody.

While ‘72 was a different era entirely, some of the lyrics, vocal melodies and even the album's title and cover strike me as cheesy. I can’t say if it was seen this way at the time, but these things haven’t aged well and are a bit cringe-inducing. I cringed all through Feelin’ So Much Better Now and while I bopped along with the upbeat opener Keepin’ Time, I asked myself “who cares?” toward the song’s context, a sentiment that repeated itself in the album’s closer, You Are The Music. I imagine other listeners felt the same way in ‘72, but if not, they surely would today.

All in all, You Are The Music ... We’re Just The Band comes together like a collection of miscellaneous songs rather than a cohesive album. That’s not to say it’s bad, it just feels disjointed in spite of its versatility. There’s probably a pretty good reason I’ve never heard this, or any Trapeze album, before this week. It’s not the kind of album that has long term resonance. It would fit in well in any shuffled mix of 70s classic rock, but doesn’t produce one standout moment that makes you say “now that’s rock and roll!” 

I’d say it’s a middle-of-the-road hard rock album with some sprinkles of funk, soul and blues. I’ll play it again, and likely enjoy it, but life-changing it’s not. I’m scoring this one a 6 out of 10 for its tight, soulful and emotive musicianship with a respectable attempt at versatility.

Daniele Purrone: I used to prefer Medusa, with his “dark Free” feeling, but nowadays I realise that I actually appreciate You Are The Music more, because of the groove. The epics on the former are fantastic, but I think the latter has something more to offer.

Mel and Tom Galley wrote the rockiest tracks, like Keeping Time and the title track. Glenn was great when it comes to the mellower side of Trapeze, like the amazing and soulful Coast To Coast.

But they definitely worked together in the arrangements, and everything sounds cohesive, groovy and exciting. This stuff would prove to be influential, especially in the US where Trapeze had a certain following. “Crossover” would become a trend in the nineties, but Trapeze were first!

This is probably Mel Galley’s best album, he was really shining here.

I definitely recommend the Deluxe edition: the live tracks prove how good they were on a stage. Glenn would incorporate some of that stuff in Purple (for instance during his moment in Space Truckin’) but Trapeze sounded more natural at that.

Uli Hassinger: I read an article about Trapeze last week which ended up with me ordering the CD the day before the album appeared in this club. I've never listened to Trapeze before. This should be their masterpiece, so I gave it a go.

The first thing you recognise very quickly is that the band consist of very talented musicians. Galley is a guitar player who is comfortable with all kind of music styles, slower and faster riffs, and certainly has his own style. Holland was a big surprise to me, because I only knew him from the early Priest. There he hadn't the chance to show what a brilliant drummer he was. And then Hughes. I have several albums featuring him as a singer. But this one shows him in another universe. His singing is just brilliant. His voice covers such a wide range which makes it one of the best records focusing on the singing to me.

The album unites soul, funk, jazz and is still rocking. I enjoyed listening to it the whole time. No bad track on it. My favourites are Coast To Coast, Will Our Love End and You Are The Music.

It was probably a mistake for Hughes to leave the band for Purple. The albums with Purple are superb, but he was only a follower. Trapeze was a group where he had mayor impact in songwriting and music. Very good album. 8/10

Plamen Agov: Glenn Hughes is one of my most loved individuals in the rock music. I’ve seen him live numerous times during the post-2000 era. His period in Deep Purple is also a favourite of mine. Alas, for some reason, Trapeze never reached my playlists. Several years ago, I’ve examined the album Medusa and that’s all.

Now, listening to You Are The Music...We're Just The Band, I hear that the album brings this very rich colourful feeling which is specific for every work featuring Hughes. A good LP indeed. My picks are Feelin' So Much Better Now and You Are the Music. 8/10.

Roland Bearne: I would like to get Mr Hughes out of the way, as even here, youthful as he was, he dominates. Someone on another page observed that any project Glenn Hughes is involved in becomes a Glenn Hughes project. This is really a compliment and testament to the unbelievable instrument the man has been blessed with. 

It even happens here, on the rockier tracks his soaring ululations almost drown the band! It's brilliant but sort of like being in the gym with the bulging beefcake gruntily bench pressing something the weight of a small car. Its jolly impressive but you can't watch for too long! In a similar vein, I think Hughes really shines here on the more soulful tracks, just beautiful as for example on Will Our Love End

So to the band, and what a combo they are! Mel Galley's playing is just so damn tasteful! He runs the full gamut from crunching riffs to solos which could teach the best US soul session players a thing or two. Then Dave Holland, more associated with the more straight ahead skin bashing of Priest, the man swings! 

The only Trapeze I own is the Hotwire LP on vinyl (no Hughes of course) and I love that. In the end with this I am torn three ways: enjoyment (a great band); admiration (great band and singer); and irritation (at some of Glenn Hughes vocal excesses). In all, whilst I never felt myself to be a "crossover" fan, I think I'll scour Discogs for a vinyl copy. CRAOTW scores again for introducing an older album that I'd never heard. Nice!

Gary Claydon: I've enjoyed listening to You Are The Music... this week, purely because it's been a good while since I gave any Trapeze a listen and, as is often the case with the picks in this group, it prompted me to revisit some of their other stuff.

Thing is, though, none of it changed my opinion of Trapeze. They were an OK band. Fine musicians, sure but in this case the whole is less than the sum of its parts. I always preferred the grittier Medusa to You Are The Music... which is more upbeat but a little too smooth & laid back for my liking. The band's exposure to U.S. R&B and funk through extensive gigging Stateside is clearly reflected in the material here. 

The main attraction for me is the playing of Mel Galley. What was it with dear old David Coverdale that made him attract such brilliant but understated, almost under the radar axemen such as Galley, Micky Moody & Bernie Marsden to the earlier incarnations of Whitesnake? Anybody would think he'd had some kind of traumatic experience with a six string virtuoso that he wanted to avoid repeating. 

Anyway, Galley's work on You Are The Music... is nicely fluid, particularly on opener Keepin' Time (nicely complimented by BJ Coles' steel guitar) and Loser while he provides some meaty riffing on Feeling So Much Better Now. My favourite track is Way Back To The Bone which is also driven along smartly by Dave Holland's drumming. Coast To Coast is of interest because a fairly faithful rework can be found on the Hughes/Thrall album from 1982. 

As for Glenn Hughes, well, his abilities don't need any affirmation from me but I confess, I've long had a couple of problems with The Voice of Rock. Firstly, he talks too much on stage. I like the front man to make a connection with the audience but between-song banter is one thing, Hughes' often lengthy ramblings quite another. Still, if anybody has earned the right to ramble on a bit then he has. 

Secondly, to me, Hughes is the vocalist equivalent of certain guitarists. The ones who play with the attitude "I know all the notes and chords that have ever existed and I'm gonna cram every one of the fuckers into every song I ever play". As good as Glenn Hughes is, there are times when his vocal acrobatics leave me cold. Still, for the most part here he keeps his excesses in check and produces some fine performances.

Ultimately, You Are The Music... doesn't quite do it for me. It's not a bad album but the songs just aren't quite strong enough. A nice solid 6/10, which is pretty much how I'd score Trapeze overall.

Carl Black: Didn't even know this album existed before this week. Gave it a right good going over and enjoyed half of it. Enjoyed the more aggressive, bigger songs.The drumming on some of the bigger songs is absolutely immense. They do drift off like a lot of American bands of this ilk and I drift off with them into that area of non interest. But when they hit they absolutely hit. It's a shame they didn't have an album full of tracks like the opener. Still enjoyed it, interested to listen to more.

Brian Carr: During the past few years, I’ve gotten acquainted with music from Glenn Hughes, spinning his Deep Purple work a time or two and really liking his 2016 album Resonate and the Black Country Communion releases. I’ve been impressed, but had not sought out anything from Trapeze prior to this week. Wow, was I missing out.

From the onset I was hooked: Keepin’ Time absolutely rocks. Then things took an unexpected turn into ballad-land with Coast To Coast, where Mr. Hughes does an impressive Stevie Wonder impersonation. You Are the Music... continues shifting musical gears from song to song, but I happen to love funk and soul music, so groove mixed in with my rock is a stew I will gladly grub down with a smile, and likely go back for seconds.

The performances here are spectacular. I knew Hughes, of course, and was surprised to learn Dave Holland was behind the kit. But Mel Galley completely blows me away. I am shocked with all of the guitar stuff I listen to and read that I haven’t come across his name. His playing is tasty, diverse and highly skilled.

I’d like to give You Are the Music... We Are the Band a perfect 10, but the chorus of Feelin’ So Much Better Now kills a great song with poor choices in vocal range. I can definitely see the variety of styles from song to song putting some listeners off, but in my opinion, Hughes’ voice ties everything together well enough and the playing is just too good, especially Galley, for this to drop lower than a 9/10. Maybe a 9.5?

Marco LG: I came to Trapeze as the band of Glenn Hughes before Deep Purple. In fact I went as far as buying the first three albums only, and to this day those remain the only albums I know. The legacy of Glenn Hughes is both a blessing and a curse for this band, as on one hand it ensures they were never forgotten but on the other everything they did is overshadowed by the enormous presence of the voice of rock.

I like Glenn Hughes. He has a natural ability to channel his technical proficiency of both his voice and the bass guitar into infectious tunes one can always sing along and dance to. He is obviously a very proud man, often boasting arrogantly, but when he shouts out loud “I am the best” few fellow musicians dare to disagree. 

The fact he is so aware of his abilities however makes him the centre of everything he does. Case in point: this week’s pick for the club features Dave Holland on drums, who probably plays better here than in any Judas Priest album, and Mel Galley, a guitarist and songwriter who really needs to be remembered more, but all I have discussed so far is “The Voice” himself.

Stylistically, You Are The Music… We’re Just The Band is a mix of hard rock and funk that really shouldn’t work as well as it does. It’s at the same time mind blowing and infectious: the riffs, the drumming, the bass lines and the towering vocals all display stellar levels of proficiency, and yet the first thing that happens when playing this album is the irresistible pull to dance. And I mean dance, not head banging or foot tapping, but proper hip action! Some lengthy, jam-like, passages are probably a bit superfluous and in fact in Come Taste The Band that tendency will be abandoned in favour of more focused tunes, but in general the album is great fun and never overstays its welcome.

The star player for me here is Mel Galley. His riffs are never overpowering and his solos always tasteful. As a songwriter he shows some tremendous skills penning together with his brother the two best songs of the lot: opener Keeping Time and the title track. The brothers will continue their songwriting partnership on the next two albums by Trapeze and will eventually reach their peak in 1985 with the project Phenomena, an all star rock opera where Mel appears in most songs, playing guitar again after an accident that all but ended his career.

In conclusion: You Are The Music… We’re Just The Band is a fun listen, displaying some stellar musicianship but suffering a little bit from jam-like moments. It is overshadowed by the presence of “The Voice” but it's also infectious and makes me want to dance. Despite funk not really being my cup of tea, I will score it 8 out of 10.

Mike Canoe: I have long been fascinated by the long and varied career of bassist/singer Glenn Hughes. I, of course, know Dave Holland as the drummer of Judas Priest during their most commercially successful decade. How is it I was "now days old," as the kids say, when I heard of guitarist Mel Galley?

Glenn Hughes' singing here is generally spectacular, even though he sounds like he's about to blow it out a few times. If the Wikipedia entry is accurate and there are, in fact, no other singers on the album and he is overdubbing himself, then Glenn Hughes is a more spectacular singer than I ever realised, especially on What Is A Woman's Role, Loser, and Feelin' So Much Better Now. If there are actually uncredited female backup singers, I'm still impressed, because they sound great too.

Dave Holland is as dependable as he was (will be?) with Priest and partners well with Hughes as the rhythm section.

But I think Mel Galley is the reason to show up. At heart, I am more of a riff guy than a solo guy, but, damn, my ears perk up with every solo, whether barnstorming on Feelin' So Much Better Now or bringing tears on Will Our Love End.

Will Our Love End is the showcase song for me, mainly because of Galley's interplay with the guest musicians on vibraphone and saxophone. I tell you, sometimes I don't know who I am anymore.

But I'm not a total marshmallow. Way Back to the Bone is a dense and angry bruiser that foreshadows his work with Deep Purple. Same with Loser.

I ask this seriously and not as a jerk: Were Trapeze considered successful in the UK? I hope they were, since Galley was the one consistent member throughout the 70s and that's the lion's share of his discography. Are any of the latter albums worth checking out?

Reading Galley's Wikipedia entry, he also played on solo albums by Glenn Hughes and similarly fascinating journeyman, drummer Cozy Powell. Unfortunately, the U.S. release of Whitesnake's Slide It In had John Sykes' solos recorded over his.

But here's where it gets really tragic... then triumphant.

His career was sidelined after a bad accident and worse surgery that left him unable to play the guitar until the invention of "The Claw," a device that sounds way more complicated than Tony Iommi's plastic fingertips. Able to play again, he formed Phenomenon with his brother, something that Wikipedia refers to as a "rock music concept," rather than a band. While very 80's sounding, it's still an interesting and engaging listen. And Hughes is back at the mic.

John Davidson: I’m familiar with Glenn Hughes through his work with Deep Purple and more recent solo career alongside his many collaborations, but have never actually listened to Trapeze before.

I’ll be honest - while I like my rock to have some blues in it, and even some soul if it is done well, I’ve never been drawn to the overtly ‘funky’ side of rock. So an album by funk rock pioneers Trapeze was never going to be high on my priority list.

You Are The Music, We Are Just The Band was Glenn Hughes' third and last album with the band before joining Deep Purple and they were clearly a tight outfit.

The drumming from Dave Holland stands out (particularly on the pacier tracks) with plenty of interesting fills which support that central groove. It’s interesting that Holland went on to play on some of Judas Priest’s most successful albums. I hadn’t made that connection before (I was also unaware of his conviction 2004 for sexual assault until I read about him for this review).

Mel Galley’s guitar work is also good, though mostly funky rhythm fills and solos rather than traditional hard rock riffs but it suits the style well. There are touches of Paul Kossof riffs here and there (for example on Feelin So Much Better Now) but not enough to really satisfy.

It is Glenn Hughes that I have some issues with. His singing is generally ok, but some of the vocal tics/mannerism and overuse of falsetto don't work for me at all. His bass and piano playing fill out the sound without making an obvious impact - which I found surprising given how good a bass player he is on other albums.

Looking back at their previous album - Medusa, I can see it as being more to my taste. It's closer to the blues rock of Free, with more emphasis on riff and stomp for melody than the soulful funk of You Are The Music... But, if I want to listen to slightly funked up blues rock from the period I’d probably choose Come Taste The Band, which despite being a huge disappointment to (many) Deep Purple fans features a greater collection of talent - playing the same sort of fair as on here. It puts Mel Galley into context to hear Tommy Bolin play similar music - it's the difference between the good and the great.

The deluxe version of this album (available on Spotify) has a number of live tracks and for me epitomises all that was wrong with early 70s live music. While the band are clearly talented musicians, every song is longer than the album and filled with “ooh yeahs”, extended solos and other spaff that hasn’t aged as well as the original songs.

Back to the original album. Overall, the upbeat tracks (Keepin Time, Loser) are more to my taste than the ballads and the best track on the album is the closing title track You Are The Music.. which shows them at their best - high energy, great drumming and some very good guitar work.

I might listen to the title track again but am unlikely to buy the whole album. 6/10

Final Score: 7.01⁄10 (105 votes cast, with a total score of 737)

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