In the minds of many, Trapeze will be best remembered as the band that gave the now legendary Glenn Hughes his first major steps in the music world. On three albums recorded between 1969 and 1972, Hughes showed a strong vocal talent. Whether tackling strange psychedelic jams (as per the Trapeze debut), or losing himself within deep, soulful blues, it seemed there was nothing the young musician couldn’t take in his stride. It wasn’t until the release of 1972’s ‘You Are The Music…We’re Just The Band’, however, that Hughes and Trapeze really hit upon a perfect sound, with a blend of hard rock, blues and soul that would rival the likes of Free in terms of talent. As great as the album was – and remains – it failed to chart, but Trapeze hadn’t gone entirely unnoticed. Whilst playing live shows for the album, Hughes was headhunted by Ritchie Blackmore for a new line up of Deep Purple, and fter the release of their ‘Burn’ LP in 1974 – a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic – Glenn’s career was catapulted into the stratosphere.
In terms of “supergroups”, Snakecharmer’s first line up was hard to beat. Centring around ex-Whitesnake members Micky Moody (guitar) and Neil Murray (bass), the band immediately came with a solid, classic rock sound that would be partially indebted to their formative years with David Coverdale, but – as was proven by their debut album – they relied far less on nostalgia than their earlier vehicle The Company of Snakes. Much of Snakecharmer’s superior sound not only came from stronger songwriting, but also the presence of vocalist Chris Ousey (ex-Virginia Wolf/Heartland), a man blessed with the kind of range capable of tackling almost everything with ease.
The 1960’s spawned a generation of guitarists who paved their way to stardom through vast amount of session work. Arguably the most celebrated of these players are Ritchie Blackmore and Jimmy Page, but for these genuine megastars, there were a legion of other six string heroes who worked every bit as hard – or harder – but never reached “household name” status. Unless you’re the kind of fan who devours sleeve notes and credits with as much enthusiasm as the music itself, names like Clem Clempson, Geoff Whitehorn and Jim Sullivan, for example, might not be too familiar, and yet, if you love 60s, 70s and 80s rock, chances are you own a record or two featuring those guys.
Ray Fenwick is another musician who has maintained a presence for several decades, but has never seemed to get his full due. Beginning as a session man in the 60s, he’s played with some of the greats. ‘Playing Through The Changes’ – a three disc anthology from 2021 – shows off a chunk of his legacy more than admirably, pulling tracks from a very busy career. What it may lack in consistency it makes up for with variety, and unlike so many rock-based anthologies devoted to a singular talent, it doesn’t rely on too many really obvious recordings you’ll own elsewhere – purely because the nature of Fenwick’s work means there aren’t any obvious compilation filling hits and standards. There are a lot of oddities – which aren’t all good, naturally – but, in the main, it’s an enjoyable musical adventure.
In the late 60’s, singer-songwriter Graham Bonnet scored a massive hit single with cover of the Bee Gees’ ‘Only One Woman’ as part of pop duo The Marbles. Like so many pop acts of the era, The Marbles’ time at the top was brief. Neither of Marbles’ follow up singles or their album made anywhere near the same impact and they split soon after. Graham could’ve returned to his hometown of Skegness having at least briefly been a star, but realising he had more to give, he plugged on. He first made the move into recording advertising jingles as a means to pay bills, before releasing a couple more unsuccessful singles in the early 70s. Material for a solo album was recorded in 1974 but shelved for over forty years. After an appearance in the 1975 UK comedy film Three For All – starring his then partner Adrienne Posta – Bonnet finally made a step in a more positive direction career-wise when he signed a deal with the small Ring-O record label, with whom he released two full length albums, ‘Graham Bonnet’ (1977) and ‘No Bad Habits’ (1978).
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…