Trapeze is sometimes remembered more for being a reliable source of players for other bands than for its own great music. The list of ’70s and ’80s British bands with ex-Trapeze members is a fairly impressive one, and includes Deep Purple, Judas Priest, and Whitesnake. It got to the point where one would be forgiven for thinking “ex-Trapeze” was the actual name of the band, such was the ubiquity of that phrase in hard-rock magazines. But on the evidence of the band’s actual output—such as on this great album for example—they absolutely deserve some of their own shine.
At the point this third album appeared in 1972, Trapeze was a three-piece fronted by the soulful tones of bassist-vocalist Glenn Hughes, whom Stevie Wonder once called his favorite rock singer. The reasons for Stevie’s high praise are immediately apparent on the several funk-infused tracks featured here. Hughes, guitarist Mel Galley, and drummer Dave Holland are augmented in the studio by session players contributing Fender Rhodes, vibes, percussion, saxophone, and pedal-steel guitar. These elements enhance the band’s good-time, hard-rocking boogie (in the ’70s-rock sense of the latter term) without overwhelming it, all the while underlining the R&B influence that comes through in virtually anything Hughes does.
Mid-tempo soul-rock gems like “Coast to Coast,” “What Is a Woman’s Role,” and “Will Our Love End” (featuring a remarkably Carlos Santana–like solo from the underrated Galley) really allow Hughes to show off his pipes and the band as a whole to lay back in a groove. “Way Back to the Bone” is more uptempo, syncopated, and funky and makes excellent use of open space in its central riff. The rest of the album makes good on what the cover shot suggests: a high-energy rock band perfect for outdoor summer gigs where the beer flows freely and a good time is guaranteed for all. This side of the album reaches its peak on the wonderful “Loser” as well as on the closing title track. The expanded CD reissue of the album from 2020 includes several outtakes from the sessions including the amazing “Good Love,” which could easily have gotten airplay on R&B stations at the time.
The energy and creativity displayed on this album as well as its predecessor “Medusa” did not go unnoticed by more-established bands, and within a year of its release Hughes was recruited by Deep Purple. Trapeze continued under Galley’s leadership for a few more years and this classic trio lineup (of which Hughes is today the last surviving member) reunited several times for brief tours in later years, in between its members’ stints in the aforementioned, better-known bands. You Are the Music, We’re Just the Band, though, remains a hidden gem worthy of rediscovering.