The late 60s and early 70s were a great time for experimentation and free spirited sounds. From within the psychedelic scene came various bands who were less enthralled with rainbows and being “home in time for tea”, preferring instead to stretch blues origins into dark and heavy places, inspiring a generation of guitar heroes. Others took a mod and freakbeat approach and ladled on the distortion thus creating a more inventive take on a garage rock sound, something which arguably helped to spawn punk. By cranking their amps and embracing an artistic freedom, there were a whole spectrum of bands slowly changing the musical landscape. The original ‘I’m A Freak Baby’ box set (released by Grapefruit Records in 2016) gave a solid overview of the era for the curious listener. Although it featured a lot of material that keener rock fans would already own, it still played well as a compilation in its own right. Popular tunes by Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac could be found alongside cult numbers by Pink Fairies and The Groundhogs, as well as a few genuine obscurities from Barnabus, Sweet Slag and Cycle. A second triple disc set released in 2019 offered more gems, but dug even deeper for rarities with unreleased tracks from Natural Gas, Thor, Tarsus, and more besides.
Grapefruit Records’ 3CD anthologies covering music from 1970 and 1971 captured a British music scene during a period of change. Psychedelia may have been considered long gone, but various pop bands still seemed keen to dabble with the quirky and odd. Although the artier side of the era’s pop and rock scene during that period was often interesting, these sets suggested that the era didn’t always have a clear identity.
There are no such issues with ‘Beyond The Pale Horizon’, a triple disc collection promising to bring “The British Progressive Pop Sounds of 1972”. By the time 1971 had coughed its last and the pop and rock machine rolled into the new year, progressive rock was a dominant force within the album buyers’ market, while glam rock and hard rock were never far away from the singles chart. Between these two or three musical tribes, ’72 came with a strong musical base, but – as always with Grapefruit’s abilities to dig through a rich musical history – the year offered so much more greatness. Naturally, three discs really isn’t enough to paint the most complete picture, but the chosen highlights within ‘Beyond The Pale Horizon’ offer the kind of listening experience that so many lovers of 70s pop and rock will find both nostalgic and educational.
For a lot of rock fans, Glenn Hughes first came to prominence when he joined Deep Purple in 1974. In the few years leading up to that big breakthrough, he’d spent time working as bassist/vocalist with British rock band Trapeze. Although not big sellers, their first two albums were solid affairs, that showcased some talented musicians. 1970’s ‘Trapeze’ (produced by Moody Blues man John Lodge) presented a five piece band indulging in 60s freakouts and although enjoyable in its own way, almost felt dated by the time of its release in the May of that year. With Black Sabbath’s debut (released three months earlier) opening up new avenues for rock and the release of Deep Purple’s ‘In Rock’ literally a few weeks away, it was clear that Trapeze already sounded like yesterday’s men. By November, Trapeze had undergone an overhaul in both line up and sound and for their second album,‘Medusa’, the band’s core of Glenn Hughes (vox/bass), Mel Galley (guitar) and Dave Holland (drums) had reinvented themselves as a hard rocking power trio, cranking riffs in a style that often sounded like a tougher version of Free. With the previous hazy psychedelia having morphed into something harder and clearer, Hughes’s vocals were allowed to truly soar for the first time. A solid album, ‘Medusa’ showed a band who were truly on their way, but the best was yet to come…