No, Black Country Communion wasn’t Glenn Hughes’ first uber-talented amalgam. For that, you’ll have to go back to the early 1970s, and Trapeze — a band whose music leaps to life in this newly released double live set.
On one level, Live in Wolverhampton: Official Bootleg — recorded over two nights in 2009 in an intimate club-like setting, and available now through earMusic — works as career retrospective for those just discovering Hughes as part of BCC. There is, on its first disc, several cuts from his more recent solo output and a look in on Hughes’ mid-1970s work with Deep Purple, too.
Meanwhile, fans old and new will thrill to Disc 2, which draws on material from his time in the often-overlooked Trapeze — a band that eventually saw members leave for Whitesnake (Mel Galley), Judas Priest (Dave Holland), Uriah Heep (Pete Goalby), Black Sabbath (Ray Gillen) and Deep Purple (Hughes).
There is a smart mixture, even on what should have been the more familiar initial disc, of rarities: Of the Deep Purple songs, we get the expected “Mistreated,” but also the sizzling deep cut from 1974′s Burn, “What’s Going on Here.” As for the solo work, there is heartbroken wail of “Don’t Let Me Bleed” from 2005′s Soul Mover, the itchy funk of “You Got Soul” from 2006′s Music for the Divine and a pair of songs from his then-recent album First Underground Nuclear Kitchen, but also “Muscle and Blood,” from Hughes’ oft-forgotten 1982 collaboration with Pat Thrall (Asia, Pat Travers, Meat Loaf).
Still it’s Hughes’ first-ever all-Trapeze set — dedicated to his fallen Trapeze confederate Mel Galley, who had just passed after a battle with cancer — where Live in Wolverhampton definitively makes its case as a must-have item.
Hughes offers all but one of the tracks from 1970′s Medusa (including a terrific take on the menacing title track), plus the riffy sing-along opener “Way Back to the Bone” from 1972′s You Are the Music … We’re Just the Band and (in another off-beat selection) the ruminative “Good Love,” a new track tacked onto the 1974 compilation The Final Swing, released as Hughes left to replace Roger Glover in Deep Purple.
Stuffed with rarities, and more than its share of emotion, Live in Wolverhampton: Official Bootleg will remind you all over again why Hughes was tabbed to join Ritchie Blackmore’s band in the first place — in particular, the Trapeze set. Highlighting a band that was tough, ambitious and simply bursting with latent talent, Disc 2 is practically worth the price of admission itself.