Glenn Hughes – Justified Man, The Studio Albums 1995-2003: Album Review

Release Date:  31st January 2020

Label: Cherry Red / Purple Records

Formats: 6CD box set

A monster set from a particularly prolific period for Glenn Hughes. To be fair, the voice of rock has never shied away from being anything less than active.

Currently engaged as the newest recruit to The Dead Daisies, an alumnus of Black Country Communion and of course Deep Purple as well as Trapeze and hooking up with the likes of Pat Thrall, Joe Lynn Turner and Tony Iommi. You can’t say that Glenn Hughes has ever been boring.

This set, for those who have Hughes on the radar but haven’t indulged, proves the point perfectly. Dalliances with Matt Sorum, Billy Sheehan, Chad Smith, Keith Emerson and The Cure’s Lol Tolhurst whose names all crop up at some point. The address book and speed dial must have been on fire.

Deeper fans may snub their noses at a collection that gathers together what they’ve had on their shelves for years, but for anyone whose interest in Glenn Hughes is more shallow, the set captures a period where his desire to inject some cool funk into the hard rock veins that carried most of his work, stands out.

The set certainly highlights a range in both the styling of the man himself and the musical content as Hughes has long since swapped his Purplesque hard rock leanings for a more soulful swagger that’s perhaps been more fully released with the classy Black Country Communion.

1996’s Addiction is often seen as Hughes’ heaviest solo album musically and in the lyrical content. The additional live tracks also show a real kick to a couple of Trapeze numbers. A record that’s personally much more satisfying and palatable, the raw visceral drive of the title track and Justified Man that recalls the sort of swaggering hard blues that Whitesnake made their name with, are up there with the career highlights.

By comparison, The Way It Is from 1999 has a distinctly lighter tone but aside from the kitsch on Take You Down, emerges with a much more successful amalgam of the rock/soul/funk combination. It includes the Hendrix track Freedom (including a dubiously titled ‘Shagmeister’ mix that matches the ‘fashionably sign of the times’ rhythmic patterns of Stoned In The Temple).

If you missed the reissues of a few years ago with the bonus discs, for your money you get a collection that starts with the 1995 solo album Feel, which includes the bonus of Holy Man from Stormbringer on an album that owes more to the streets of Harlem in the smooth white soul that pops out from behind every turn and struggles to compete with the emergence of Prince doing cross-genre things in a more exciting way.

2000 was the year of Return Of The Crystal Karma – R.O.C.K geddit? – and with The State I’m In kicking things off in fine style, there may be a hint of a return to the heaviness of Addiction. That’s particularly the case with Gone co-written with Tony Iommi, the typically leaden riffs complemented by some organ stabs. Some similarly meaty riffs vie for position with a handful of MOR, smoother soul sounds and the big production cinematic lounge blues of Days Of Avalon.

2001 saw Building The Machine continuing the collaboration with JJ Marsh although there’s another nod to the Purple days with High Ball Shooter and he adds a real kick to I Want To Celebrate by Rare Earth. The pleasant acoustic diversion on Feels Like Home is no more than that as the first half of the album fills the same heavier rock satisfaction as Addiction.

Never one to hang around too long in one place, Songs In The Key Of Rock was a barely veiled disguise for a set that owed a debt to the Hughes passion for something with a dash of funk

Higher Places (Song For Bonzo) is one of those that should be in the ‘best of’ collection. A drum pattern that nods to Bonham with a riff that you can see Pagey jiving to, yet with his own mark on the chorus. With Standing On The Rock racing along at a pace and Wherever You Go closing the album with a touch of class, this may be the highlight album of the period with less of the lighter (and lesser) material.

A set that opens a few doors for the uninitiated.

Watch Can’t Stop The Flood from Building The Machine here:

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