TRAPEZE Midnight Flyers – Complete Recordings Vol 2 (1974-1981) (5CD Box)

Midnight Flyers – Complete Recordings Vol 2 (1974-1981) (5CD Box)
Purple Records / Cherry Red

Please watch the video above for the unboxing review

Another box of amazing music from Cherry Red in their classic clamshell design, and this box continues nicely from the volume 1 of a few months back, adding more to the archive.

With the first three albums (and subsequent live material) already documented, this wonderful British band initially found fame as the trio of bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes (later of Deep Purple and solo), guitarist/vocalist Mel Galley and drummer Dave Holland (later of Judas Priest). A brief hiatus after Hughes replaced Roger Glover in Deep Purple, the band cracked on with bassist Pete Wright and second guitarist Rob Kendrick. The band’s fourth album and first here, Hot Wire, has a hard, solid and crunchy sound, bolstered by the second guitar. There’s a heavy soul edge to opener Back Street Love. Riffs aplenty and a solo or two, we’re off to a good start.
Third track Midnight Flyer has a distinct funk feel, not necessarily a bad thing, it’s a good groove. In fact, the soul and funk groove throughout the album gives it quite an American feel. The peppering of synths here and there bolster that feel.
1975’s eponymous set (same line-up) is also featured on disc 1, another fantastic album and in a similar vein, and it also features Glenn Hughes on vocals on two tracks, always a bonus.
Sadly no sign of the two otherwise unreleased tracks that were exclusive to the compilation that split the two periods of the band.

Disc 2 is the band’s sixth and final studio album, and while the orig car cover is shown in the booklet, the card sleeve has the original German cover, featuring a naked lady or two. Released in 1979, alongside Galley, Holland and Pete Wright is lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Pete Goalby, who would later work with Uriah Heep.
This album didn’t hit earlier highs but is a great and oft overlooked album. Goalby is a fantastic vocalists who brings much to the sound. The soul and funk elements are there but toned down, it’s a solid rock album well worth anyone’s money. They way the additional keyboards are mixed in make for a slightly sleeker sound.

Disc 3 is a live set recorded at the Boat Club, Nottingham in 1975, and features Galley/Holland/Kendrick and Wright, and keyboard player Terry Rowley. Originally recorded for radio broadcast and reissued in 2008, it’s a fine, solid, rawcus and energetic set. Jury is given a 14 minute workout, while Black Cloud runs to over 15. Further proof of just what a great live band Trapeze were. A little rough’n’ready in places but worth it. Although previously released, it’s very welcome here.

Disc 4 is a rare and excellent live set, from 1976, where the original trio of Hughes/Galley/Holland reconvened and this show at Arlington, Texas. The music and performance are spot on, but the loud mix (distorting and feedback in places) and the crowd almost mixed out completely. You can tell from Hughes’ reactions and screams that he and crowd alike are really getting into it, so to not hear the crowd makes it a little odd.

The final disc is the renowned 1981 official live set Live In Texas: Dead Armadillos. Featuring Mel Galley, Pete Goalby and Pete Wright, drummer Steve Bray completes the quartet. And the sound here puts the previous two sets to shame, and here is fine proof that Pete Goalby should have been a household name. Like every LP in the band’s catalogue, a decent vinyl copy will set you back and having them all together over two box sets is very welcome.

This is a great compilation, with much of the official catalogue brought together nicely. Both sets go nicely together and should form an essential part of the collection. I like the idea of albums in their original art in card sleeves (albeit 2 albums on 1 on the first disc here), and the solid card clamshell. But, and there are two glaring issues. This doesn’t make the boxes non essential, for they are, but there is a hole in terms of bonus material, like the aforementioned two studio tracks from a mid 70s compilation not included. And second is the booklet; while it is informative, and there are some historic notes from Mel Galley himself, there is no new appraisal or overview. The booklet is very much on the very light side of things.

That aside, excellent value and excellent music.

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Joe Geesin | Now Spinning Magazine

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