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Glenn Hughes

+ {Hughes/Thrall} + {Hughes Turner Project} + {Black Country Cummunion} + {California Breed}

Throughout five decades, and now in his sixth as the leader of 2010-formed semi-supergroup BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION, bassist and singer GLENN HUGHES (born 21st August 1951, Crannock in Staffordshire) has been driven to provide his largely hard-rock-based audience with quality music. From late-60s commercial non-starter Finders Keepers (45s were issued in ‘67/’68) and the soulfully-inspired R&B act The News from a year earlier, to his hard-rock halcyon heydays in the first half of the funky 70s with TRAPEZE and rock gods DEEP PURPLE (Mk.III & IV), HUGHES was having the time of his life.
Alongside Finders Keepers’ guitarist Mel Galley (and JUDAS PRIEST-bound Dave Holland from their sophomore set onwards), TRAPEZE released a handful of albums, `Trapeze’ (1969), `Medusa’ (1970) and `You Are The Music… We’re Just The Band’ (1972) for the Threshold imprint, home to The MOODY BLUES.
Turning down a chance to join the ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA (ELO) in 1973, the singer/bassist opted instead to join DEEP PURPLE as replacement for the ousted ROGER GLOVER. When DAVID COVERDALE was added as lead singer, Glenn would duly share some of the singing chores, and stuck around for a triumvirate of mid-70s studio albums `Burn’, `Stormbringer’ and `Come Taste The Band’, although by this point DP were already past their prime. HUGHES subsequently re-formed TRAPEZE in late ‘76, but his tenure was all-too brief as drug addiction (mainly cocaine) took hold of any lasting creativity. The death of former DEEP PURPLE newboy and friend TOMMY BOLIN dragged him deeper into the mire of self-worth and tormented grief.
1978 saw the release of his debut solo set, PLAY ME OUT {*4}, a mediocre affair that did little to resurrect former glories. A fusion of funky rock in a similar fashion to DEEP PURPLE’s latter-day efforts, tracks like `I Got It Covered’, the 6-minute `Your Love Is Like A Fire’, `Space High’ and others were sadly out of place compared with the new wave and post-punk scene.
Subsequently combining forces with former Pat Travers Band axeman, Pat Thrall (from the States), the HUGHES/THRALL (1982) {*7} collaboration met with similar disdain, although early reviews were a tad harsh as it later came to be regarded as something of a forgotten semi-masterpiece. Arena-rock was about to take off and it was more than a pity that it didn’t find a place for this pairing; for those of you about to rock, check out `Look In Your Eye’, `I Got Your Number’ and `Who Will You Run To’.
Fast forward a few years, Glenn surfaced alongside a raft of top musicians (including Mel Galley, BRIAN MAY, John Wetton and Tony Martin) under the banner of Phenomena. The concept project initially run by record producer Tom Galley (brother of Mel) and Metalhammer founder Wilfried Rimensberger, the flexible outfit delivered a couple of sets in the mid-80s, both featuring HUGHES.
To regain some credibility, having sessioned with GARY MOORE on his `Run For Cover’ set in ‘85, Glenn accepted an invitation to become part of BLACK SABBATH (featuring Tony Iommi), replacing former DEEP PURPLE screamer IAN GILLAN as frontman on the album `Seventh Star’ (1986). He’d work with Iommi again on two subsequent occasions, firstly on the shelved but much-bootlegged `The 1996 Dep Sessions’ (re-recorded for release in 2004) and 2005’s `Fused’.
In the early 90s, now clean of drugs and alcohol, HUGHES got his life back on track, even enjoying a bizarre guest spot with KLF, augmenting the hit single `America: What Time Is Love’. This spurred the singer on to resurrect his solo career (after 15 years!), the resulting BLUES (1993) {*6} – part of an “L.A. Blues Authority Volume II’ solo project for Roadrunner Records – was just what the doctor ordered. Featuring American co-writer and axeman, Craig Erickson and a host of fellow newbie-generation metal guitarists including John Norum (from EUROPE), Warren DeMartini (of RATT), Mick Mars (MOTLEY CRUE), Mark Kendall (of GREAT WHITE) and Richie Kotzen (of POISON), the prowess and voice of HUGHES was back at its best.
Resurrecting a few DEEP PURPLE nuggets by way of add-ons `Burn’ and `You Keep On Moving’, 1994’s FROM NOW ON… {*7} was something of a surprise for many old-styled hard-rock fans, but for the most part, this and subsequent concert piece BURNING JAPAN LIVE (1995) {*7}, brought back memories of how good a singer GLENN HUGHES really was/is; okay there was a reliability of DP cuts such as `Stormbringer’, `Owed To “G”’, `Gettin’ Tighter’, `Burn’ and `Lady Double Dealer’, but all ’n’ all this was `Coast To Coast’ – another great track here! – rock and roll.
Through albums like FEEL (1995) {*5} – featuring a cover of STEVIE WONDER’s `Maybe Your Baby’, ADDICTION (1996) {*6} – a writing collaboration with Marc Bonilla, and THE WAY IT IS (1999) {*6} – with JJ Marsh, Steve Salas and Bonilla in tow, hair-metal was back in vogue. Always deep in his heart and soul, HUGHES did manage to release a live album, A TRIBUTE TO TOMMY BOLIN (1999) {*6}, recorded “with friends” in ‘97 and dedicated of course to long-time deceased DEEP PURPLE axeman.
Prolific as a session man and solo artist extraordinaire since he found a new lease of life away from the manic drug scene, HUGHES melded funk and grandiose rock via subsequent sets like
RETURN OF CRYSTAL KARMA (2000) {*5} – (aka “R.O.C.K.”) double-CD, and BUILDING THE MACHINE (2001) {*6}, the latter extended his horizons beyond funky rock and into progressive jazz territory; example his re-take of RARE EARTH’s `I Just Want To Celebrate’.
A new phase in Glenn’s ever-revolving music career emerged with another DEEP PURPLE castoff group, HTP (or the HUGHES-TURNER PROJECT) alongside former RAINBOW, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN frontman Joe Lynn Turner. For three albums: HTP (2002) {*5}, LIVE IN TOKYO (2002) {*6} – a treat for Purple/RAINBOW acolytes – and the disappointing HTP 2 (2003) {*4}, Glenn was at least getting his never-say-die hard-rock message across to the world.
Solo-wise, HUGHES and long-term co-songsmith Marsh continued to push the right buttons on albums such as SONGS IN THE KEY OF ROCK (2003) {*6}, another concert double SOULFULLY LIVE IN THE CITY OF ANGELS (2004) {*7}, SOUL MOVER (2005) {*7} – featuring drummer Chad Smith from the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – and MUSIC FOR THE DIVINE (2006) {*6}, the latter highlighting an effective cover of The MOODY BLUES’ `Nights In White Satin’.
Hot on the heels of a LIVE IN AUSTRALIA (2007) {*6} – he was increasing popular down under, HUGHES enlisted Smith again and guitarist/co-writer Luis Maldonado on his umpteenth delivery FIRST UNDERGROUND NUCLEAR KITCHEN (2008) {*7}. Underrated in some quarters, highly-praised in others, the climactic soulful funk-n-roll of `Satellite’, Where’s There’s A Will’ and `Imperfection’, were bread-and-butter to an older generation of die-hard heavies.
Not content with having too many of his fingers placed in the proverbial pie-oven, HUGHES struck out on yet another worthwhile Kevin Shirley-produced rock alliance in BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION. Together with star-player JOE BONAMASSA (on guitar), seasoned drummer Jason Bonham (son of LED ZEPPELIN’s John Bonham) and keyboard player Derek Sherinian (from DREAM THEATER), the supergroup quartet delivered an eponymous set, BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION (2010) {*7}. Between BONAMASSA and HUGHES (mainly the former though), songs in the key of `Black Country’, the 11-minute `Too Late For The Sun’, `Down Again’ and a cover of TRAPEZE track `Medusa’, were more than reminiscent of Zeppelin at their most potent. Not content on resting on their laurels, the BCC were again attacking the senses plus both the UK and US charts via BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION 2 (2011) {*7}; Glenn had indeed come full circle while re-gaining the respect of critics and fans (old and new) alike.
Doing even better than its predecessor, AFTERGLOW (2012) {*7} jumped into the UK Top 20 (US Top 50). While BONAMASSA’s solo career was in high ascendency, main songwriter HUGHES was able to spend quality time in the studio, developing – with the rest of the group – classic rockers such as `Big Train’, `Cry Freedom’ and the rasping title track.
On a fresh venture and roping in 23 year-old guitarist Andrew Watt and drummer Bonham, the short-lived CALIFORNIA BREED were born, releasing only one eponymous set, CALIFORNIA BREED (2014) {*6}, before Jason’s subsequent departure (replaced by Joey Castillo of QOTSA) led them to bail. Produced by Dave Cobb, the focus was on blues-styled retro hard rock, led out by `The Way’, `Sweet Tea’ and `Chemical Rain’.
Long-time disciples to the “voice of rock” GLENN HUGHES, the old school brigade were elated to see him back on track with the solo RESONATE (2016) {*7}. Augmented by Lachy Doley on Hammond organ and others including co-producer Soren Anderson and Pontus Enborg, Glenn unleashed his best take on soulful, funky metal. From the opening trio of `Heavy’, `My Town’ and the grunge-tidy `Flow’, repeat plays of the vintage veteran’s vocals were rewarding. If one had to pick an outstanding track to sit nicely among the classic rock of the day, `Let It Shine’ was surely one to playlist.
© MC Strong 1997-2001/GMD / rev-up MCS Dec2011-Nov2016

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