About a week ago, I wrote a review of Dee Snider’s new album and I pointed out what a roller-coaster career he has had. Well, here’s another dude with a similar career with ups and downs like I don’t know what. As we all know, Glenn started his career in the band Trapeze which also featured guitarist Mel Galley (Whitesnake, RIP 1948 – 2008) and drummer Dave Holland (Judas Priest), before he got the gig as bassist and vocalist in Deep Purple, replacing Roger Glover. After Purple split in 1976, Hughes recorded a solo album, Play Me Out in 1977, that bombed, after which he (1982) made a brilliant album with guitarist Pat Thrall under the Hughes/Thrall moniker before things turned awfully quiet from the Hughes camp. In 1985 found himself in Gary Moore’s band, a stint that ended more or less before it had started, the same year he sang on the fantastic project Phenomena and in 1986 he sang on what was supposed to be Tony Iommi’s first solo album but became the Black Sabbath album Seventh Star but he only managed three gigs on the tour before he was fired and replaced by Ray Gillen (Badlands, RIP 1959 – 1993). After Sabbath, Hughes tried to form a band with John Norum (Europe) but that fell apart faster than you could say running nose and all of this shit happened to Hughes because of one thing: drugs! But Hughes would prove to everyone that he wasn’t a quitter, he showed cocaine the door and shaped up and the first thing we got was when he sang all the songs except three on John Norum’s brilliant album Face The Truth (1992) before he started to make plans for a solo career.
The first sign of a solo career came in 1992 with his album L.A. Blues Authority Vol 2; Glenn Hughes – Blues where he collaborated with people like Norum, Mick Mars (Mötley Crüe), Warren De Martini (Ratt) and Richie Kotzen (Poison, Mr Big, The Winery Dogs). However, it was with From Now On (1994) that his solo career started for real and since then he have kept his solo career going, but there have also been numerous of projects and bands at the same time such as Turner/Hughes (two albums), Black Country Communion (three albums) and California Breed (one album), all of them really good and the same goes for Fused (2005), the album he made with Tony Iommi under the Iommi featuring Glenn Hughes moniker. But many of Glenn’s solo albums has been somewhat confused and many times mediocre gives, both in quality and in style and sometimes I get the feeling that Glenn didn’t know which foot he should put in front of the other. Sometimes he just wanna rock and sometimes he’s a funk man and you never know when. The follow-ups Feel (1995) and Addiction (1996) were both really good albums, the latter being a very heavy and hard record, but since then, Glenn’s solo albums have all been more or less uneven and few of them even bad (The Way It Is, 1999 and First Underground Nuclear Kitchen, 2008). But since 2010 Glenn’s solo career has been on hiatus and he have concentrated more on his bands Black Country Communion (with Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian) and California Breed. But since both bands are now defunct (there are rumors of a BCC reunion now), Glenn have decided on making a new solo album and since I don’t think he has released a killer one in 20 years, I was pretty clueless of what to expect with this one.
When Glenn released the video for first single and album opener “Heavy”, I was stunned. And floored. The title speaks volumes as it really sums up the song whole heartedly. The groove is enormous, much because of guest drummer, Red Hot Chili Pepper Chad Smith. The guy is easily one of the best drummers around and it’s clear that he and Glenn has a big musical connection. Sound wise, this goes in a 70’s direction where his old Deep Purple past shows up but Led Zeppelin also comes to mind. A killer tune and one of the best songs I have heard from Glenn in ages which really sets a momentum here. “My Town” continues the heavy ride. This ballsy 70’s hard rocker ends up somewhere between Purple and Whitesnake’s heavier moments, but Hughes’ hero Stevie Wonder also shows up here and there in some of the arrangements and man, what a song this is. “Flow” is a slow and heavy riffing metal influenced monster that obviously holds fragrance of his Iommi days, but with all the nuances that is all Glenn Hughes. Three songs in and I’m already down for the count! “Let It Shine” is heavy with a bombastic rhythm and a big wall of sound, but it’s a bit too monotone and I notice I have a problem with the saturnine melody. It’s not bad, but it’s not as strong as the previous three songs. “Steady” is an upbeat rocker with a cool Jon Lord style Hammond on top. The verses come with a tough groove with vigour and punch while the chorus is softer with a captivating ambiance and the contrast brings up the dynamics a notch – a fantastic song!
“God Of Money” is just bloody amazing – the heavy Iommi-like riffing, the slow-paced gloom, the incredibly memorable melody, the to-die-for chorus and the astonishing keyboard solo from Lachy Doley. And let’s not forget about the lethal groove that hits with a vengeance – there are lots to love about this one. “How Long” is heavy and robust, it strikes with shitloads of Hammond and some erratic, but straight forward and loud guitar work from Sören Andersen and all would be fine and well if the structure of the song wasn’t so standard. The song just don’t want to stick and it doesn’t go anywhere. Again, not bad, but it lacks a memorable melody. “When I Fall” brings things back on track again. It’s a soulful, smooth and silky ballad that moves more toward soul than rock and is no way a cheesy power ballad. This song is tailor-made for Hughes’ voice and he sings it like the master he is. “Landmines” is a sweaty funkrocker with an amazing groove and a brilliant melody that sticks right away. The raw and crunchy guitar sound reminds me of Richie Kotzen which got me thinking about how cool it would be with a Hughes / Kotzen collaboration in the future! The Kotzen vibe is so conspicuous this song would fit perfect on a Kotzen album. Awesome! “Stumble And Go” is a raunchy and fat rocker in an uptempo pace with quite a large pop feel and some major swing. A good song that will make you get up and go! Closing track “Long Time Gone” starts out soft but soon turns into a full-blown and swinging rocker full of perspiration and one hell of a catchy refrain. The middle break holds a hard and funky rock jam that will take your breath away – a kick-ass groove. Chad Smith is back again and without putting drummer Pontus Enborg in the shadow, there are few drummers that could hold a candle to Smith when it comes to grooving.
This record is a huge surprise to me. I always hope that Hughes will come up with an album that will knock me off my rocker and with this one he and his band has succeeded in doing so – this is the best solo album he has released in ages and ages, maybe even his best one yet. It stands pretty clear that his stints with Black Country Communion and California Breed has rubbed off on him because here Hughes sounds focused and hungry and with an urge to show the world that he still got what it takes as a solo artist. The album rocks, grooves, swings and riffs like crazy and he sings just as awesome as he always has – and this time leaving behind much of the annoying high-pitched shouting that he sometimes has the tendency to bring up every now and then. So, welcome back, Glenn and thanks for bringing along this brilliant groove-fest.
2. My Town
4. Let It Shine
6. God Of Money
7. How Long
8. When I Fall
10. Stumble And Go
11. Long Time Gone