Trifle was an English brass-rock/funk band that released a standalone single on United Artists in 1969, followed by the album First Meeting on Dawn in 1970. Trumpeter Dick Cuthell became an in-demand sessionist in the years that followed, appearing on albums by Nasty Pop, Burning Spear, Delroy Washington, XTC, The Specials, Chaz Jankel, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Eurythmics, Blancmange, Level 42, Madness, Robert Wyatt, and numerous other artists.
Members: George Bean (vocals), John Hitchen (guitar), Patrick “Speedy” King (bass), Barrie Martin (tenor saxophone), Rod Coombes (drums, 1969-70), John Pritchard (trumpet, 1969-70), Brian “Chico” Greenwood (drums, 1970), Dick Cuthell (trumpet, 1970), Alan Fealdman (keyboards, 1970)
Trifle grew from George Bean and the Runners, an R&B band fronted by singer George Bean. As a solo act, Bean released four singles on Decca between 1963 and 1965 and two more on CBS in 1967/68. He played a minor role in the 1967 drama Privilege starring Jean Shrimpton and ex-Manfred Mann vocalist Paul Jones. The Runners (credited as The Runner Beans) have two songs on the Mike Leander-produced Privilege soundtrack (UNI Records): “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “Jerusalem.”
Bean assembled the first Trifle lineup in 1968 with bassist Pat (Speedy) King, guitarist John Hitchen, drummer Rod Coombes, trumpeter John Pritchard, organist Alan Morris, and saxophonist Barrie Martin. The one single by this configuration, the Beatles cover “All Together Now” (b/w the Bean/King/Martin original “Got My Thing”), appeared on United Artists in 1969. It was produced by Noel Walker (Cat Stevens, Idle Race, East of Eden) and arranged by a 19-year-old Mike Batt. The a-side (misspelled “Al Together Now”) appears on the 1970 comp Mike’s Party Fetzer, released on the German Liberty label. Around this time, Austrian trumpeter Hubert Grillberger (Máquina) passed through the lineup.
In the summer of 1970, Trifle signed to Dawn Records, the recently established underground division of Pye. The lineup at this stage included Bean, King, Hitchen, Martin, and three newcomers: trumpeter Dick Cuthell, keyboardist Alan Fealdman, and drummer Chico Greenwood. The year prior, Fealdman and Greenwood cut the album Liberation as part of the blues-psych band Jasper. Cuthell’s presence put Trifle in sync with brass-rock contemporaries Brainchild, Colosseum, Galliard, and The Greatest Show on Earth.
Trifle entered Pye Studios in London’s Marble Arch in September 1970 with producer John Schroeder (Man, Status Quo, Quiet World, Gnidrolog, John Kongos) and engineer Geoff Calver (Steamhammer, Blodwyn Pig, Demon Fuzz, Paul Brett’s Sage).
Trifle released First Meeting in February 1971 on Dawn. Side A opens with the group-original “Alibi Annie,” a proto-funk rocker marked with scratchy, staccato riffing. Fealdman’s eight-minute “Is It Loud?” closes out the side, which also features covers of Manfred Mann Chapter Three (“One Way Glass“), Cat Stevens (“But I Might Die Tonight“), and US brass-rockers Archie Whitewater (“Home Again”).
Side B has the Cuthell/Bean number “New Religion,” surrounded by the Bean/King compositions “Old Fashioned Prayer Meeting” and the epic “Devil Comin’,” both with brass arrangements by Martin. The Bean/Hitchen miniature “Candle Light” closes the album.
Original copies of First Meeting came in a dark brown gatefold sleeve with a tinted photo of the band in a shaft-lit fort. The inner-spread shows each member on horseback. The album spawned one single, “Devil Comin'” (b/w “Old Fashioned Prayer Meeting”). In Argentina, the album appeared with the Spanish-translated title Primer Encuentro.
Trifle got cut short by Bean’s tragic death just months after First Meeting.
Original Trifle drummer Rod Coombes played on 1970/71 albums by Juicy Lucy. During 1972/73, he appeared on record with John Entwistle, Paul Brett, and Stealers Wheel (Ferguslie Park). He then replaced Richard Hudson in the Strawbs and drummed on their five 1974–77 studio albums (incl. Hero and Heroine and Ghosts). In 1978, he backed Brett again on the album Interlife.
King joined hard-rockers Shanghai, which cut two albums between 1974 and 1976. He then replaced Colin Pattenden in Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and played on their 1978–80 albums Watch, Angel Station, and Chance.
Fealdman surfaced in the funk nine-piece F.B.I., which issued a 1976 self-titled album on Tony Visconti’s Good Earth label. He then joined Sniff ‘n’ the Tears and played on their 1978 first album Fickle Heart, which credits him as Alan Feldman.
Greenwood teamed with singer Keith West (Tomorrow), guitarist John Weider (The Animals, Family, Stud), and bassist Bruce Thomas (Quiver, The Attractions) in rustic-rockers Moonrider, which issued a self-titled album on Anchor Records in 1975.
Cuthell played on more than 50 albums and singles between 1975 and 1987, starting with the debut album by Liverpudlian act Nasty Pop. During the late ’70s, he worked with figures in Afro-rock (Eddie Quansah, Kabaka) and assorted reggae acts (Rico Rodriguez, Delroy Washington, Burning Spear, Steel Pulse, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Tribesman). He played on many Island releases, including 1977/78 albums by Sandy Denny (Rendezvous) and Jade Warrior (Way of the Sun).
In 1979, Cuthell played flugelhorn on the track “That Is the Way” (Drums and Wires) by XTC. He also played on the post-punk comeback album by Red Crayola (Soldier-Talk) and the debut album by Two Tone initiators The Specials. He eventually joined The Specials and played on their subsequent releases, plus recordings by the follow-through Special AKA and the splinter act Fun Boy Three. Concurrently, he played on early ’80s albums by The Selecter, The Members, Joan Armatrading, Chas Jankel (Chasanova), and Eurythmics.
- “All Together Now” / “Got My Thing” (1969)
- First Meeting (1971)
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