Glenn Hughes – Justified Man: The Studio Albums 1995-2003 (Purple Recordings)
The Voice Of Rock has rarely been quiet.
From his early days fronting Finders Keepers and funk rock pioneers Trapeze, through to last year’s decision to join The Dead Daisies, Cannock’s finest has always found something to say and somewhere to say it.
For more than 50 years his rock and soul has struck a chord with fans the world over.
And there’s no sign of 68-year-old Hughes calling time on a phenomenal career just yet.
Perhaps best known for celebrated stints with Deep Purple Mk III and IV, only a dangerously debilitating drug habit prevented Hughes from doing more.
And if the late 90s and early noughties is a frequently overlooked era where the multi-talented vocalist and bass player is concerned, it was a typically fruitful period for the self-confessed workaholic.
Befitting Hughes’ career as a whole, this six-disc retrospective covers pop, soul, funk, classic rock, prog, metal and more.
It’s a rollercoaster ride of genre-bending joy and represents one of the most creative eras of an artist who was more than comfortable flying solo before Voodoo Hill and Black Country Communion came calling.
On Days Of Avalon, the final song on 2000’s Return Of The Crystal Karma, Hughes gives Terrence Trent D’Arby a run for his money such is the deep soul underpinning a truly remarkable tune.
And yet the same album features Gone – foreboding metal featuring an iconic Tony Iommi riff. Even within this wide and varied collection, Return Of The Crystal Karma is a melting pot of musical experimentation.
Its position slap bang in the middle of a frequently revealing retrospective feels just right.
It’s 1995’s poppier Feel that kicks things off: the obvious highlight a rare collaboration with Pat Thrall on the brilliant Redline.
Guns N Roses and Velvet Revolver alumnus Matt Sorum kicks ass on the drums but 1996’s Addiction is the heavier of Hughes’ two mid 90s offerings.
Guitarist Marc Bonilla is a major influence with nine co-writes and a self-confident show of fret-burning majesty. Skip to Justified Man for the best of a hard rocking bunch.
Three years down the line and The Way It Is is notable for two versions of the Jimi Hendrix classic Freedom. The latter, dubbed the Shagmeister Mix, leaves little to the imagination.
Post-Return Of The Crystal Karma and Hughes reconnected with guitarist JJ Marsh to revisit his classic rock roots.
Deep Purple’s Highball Shooter, from 1974’s Stormbringer, gets a gutsy makeover and there’s a Japanese Bonus Track in the shape of the Hughes/Travers collaboration Cosmic Spell.
In truth this entire collection is magic.
Hughes has cast a spell over music lovers for decades and it’s almost impossible to settle on one period in time as his most productive or innovative.
But ignoring these six records does a disservice to a singer songwriter never afraid to push the creative boundaries or maintain a sense of urgency even during periods of record label indifference and fast-changing musical fashion and media trends.
Disc six – Songs In the Key Of Rock – says it best from The Voice Of Rock.
Highlight Higher Places (Song For Bonzo) is a fitting and feisty tribute to Hughes’ old mate John Bonham.
And guest spots from Billy Sheehan and Chad Smith only serve to further enhance a fantastic record.
Main Image By Arnie Goodman