Monday, October 17, 2016

Glenn Hughes - Resonate - Full Spectrum Brilliance

"This album is the first kind of a complete Glenn Hughes album." ~ Glenn Hughes
Glenn Hughes continues to defy the odds, and the laws of nature. Resonate is going to end up on a lot of those top ten albums lists we'll be seeing come January. It's going to be a lot of writers's best album of the year. Out on November 4th on Frontiers Music srl, this album sets the bar very high for whatever comes next.

The career of Glenn Hughes has roller coasted quite a bit over the last few years, but as bands have unraveled and health issues have thrown obstacles at the unbreakable 'Voice Of Rock," he's kept the quality of his music on an incline the likes of which I've never seen. Let me explain.

As artists age, it's very common for time to take it's toll on both the quality, and the quantity of output. It's incredibly difficult to continually grow as a writer when you've been at it for decades, and along with the hinderance of a full catalogue, there is the sheer wear on one's physicality. Time takes its toll on things like voices, joints, and all the rest. This is nature at work, and I am always mystified by so many supposed music lovers's refusal to acknowledge these things when they are considering the lifetime achievements of an artist when seen from the beginning of the third act.

Photo by Georgina Cates
Hughes is somehow turning the laws of nature upside down. He's hitting all those famous high notes while also maturing as a singer, and relying more on his full chest voice and tremendous vibrato. In short, he's actually getting better as a singer in his mid-60s, an unheard of premise. His songwriting is actually improving in leaps and bounds - Resonate achieves for the first time what I call a full service Glenn Hughes solo record. He's rocking as heavy (if not heavier) as he has when he's partnered with the great Tony Iommi, he's  more soulful than ever, he gets a lot of funk in on this album without any possibility of losing his rock fans in the mix, and he's co-produced this album with guitarist/producer Soren Anderson to great effect. This record covers a tremendous amount of musical ground, but it's cohesive in a way that allows the listen to experience this set from beginning to end with absolutely no stylistic bumps in the road.

Resonate is a great modern rock record - this is not a retro anything. Sure, fans of Hughes's work with Trapeze, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Black Country Communion, and California Breed will certainly be enthusiastically along for the ride, but this is a record which, if properly promoted, should pick up the Hughes machine a whole new generation of listeners.

To let you in on what I'm implying, dig this bit of largely unknown history. Several years ago, soon after the unfortunate, but thankfully not permanent demise of Black Country Communion, and before the formation of California Breed, Mr. Hughes had fallen in with some fellows from Southern California, whose band had sold millions of records and concert tickets before their led singer finally went off the rails on his way to a Velvet Revolver. Hughes and the STP braintrust did some writing and playing together, but then, as so often happens in the world of rock, things got derailed by schedules, health issues, etc... Resonate gives me a great idea that this is somewhat close to what that might have sounded like, and it's a thrilling realization of that prospect - classic rock, funk, and blues married to a perfectly realized modernization and update that is driven by Hughes, and his stellar band.

Photo by Steve Johnson
Soren Anderson has been playing guitar with Glenn Hughes on and off over the last ten years, and he's now stepped up into the role of co-producer. Resonate was recorded in Denmark at Anderson's Medley Studios, and the production team has done a great job in capturing what went down, judiciously adding the right few ingredients to keep the record sounding very live, while also presenting a ton of great ear candy in terms of instrumentation, harmony vocals, and such. Anderson's guitar work is guitar hero worship worthy, but while living up to a history that includes such names as Blackmore, Iommi, Bonamassa, and many others, he's managed to carve out a great niche for his signature as a player, while resisting the urge to overplay. He's tempered it all perfectly.

Rounding out the band is longtime Hughes co-hort Pontus Engborg on the drums, and keyboardist Lachy Doley, an Australian whiz of an organist/keyboard player who last showed up with Hughes on that incendiary cover of Deep Purple's "Highway Star" a few years back. Every time Doley shows up on Resonate, it's like watching the sun come up in the morning - it's brilliance appearing, and he's as tasteful a player as he is virtuosic. Engborg is a force of nature behind the kit, as powerful as a freight train, but then the minute the music needs more finesse, he's musical and marvelously on-point.

It's really not necessary for me to go through the song list at this point, as all I can tell you is that this record is brilliant. Great from beginning to end, and whether you listen from beginning to end, or just drop the proverbial needle, the quality and tone of the record shines through at any point.

Yes, Mr. Hughes has done what is not supposed to be possible, and he has made an album the stands shoulder to shoulder with anything he has ever done, and in my humble opinion he's made his best solo record yet at the beginning of the third act. Buy it, enjoy it, play it LOUD.

Last minute addition: Listen closely to Hughes's bass playing on this album. It's some of the best classic British rock bass since the days of Jack Bruce, Entwistle, Andy Fraser, and Chris Squire.

1 comment:

Steve Hymer said...

T, great review. I am ecstatic to receive this release. LOVE GH.