What does it sound like?:
Who knew Glenn Hughes had such an extensive back catalogue? These two albums, originally released in 1999 and 2000, largely passed me by at the time of their original release, so these two cd expanded reissues presented an opportunity to hear what, if anything, I’d missed.
The Way It Is is a somewhat curious set, not quite sure whether it wants to be a funk album or a hard rock one, and rather falling between the two stools in the process. The material is fairly run of the mill stuff to be honest, the stand out being a version of Hendrix’s Freedom, which strangely appears twice in slightly different versions for no apparent reason. Keith Emerson plays on a couple of tracks, and Hughes’ voice is still there, but it’s let down by the material he has to work with. A bit of a disappointment overall.
Return Of Crystal Karma (or ROCK – see what he did there) is slightly the better of the two albums. Sticking with the bass driven funk sound, the set benefits from having the same band playing throughout, rather than having different musicians on different tracks as on the previous effort. This produces a more cohesive and consistent sound, and Hughes generally seems more ‘on it.’ There’s a good co-write with Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, who Hughes worked with on the Seventh Star album, and the instrumental ‘Owed To J’ (a reference to the Owed To G track on Purple’s Come Taste The Band album) also stands out from the crowd. There’s even an appearance from ex Cure man Lol Tolhurst. Again though, Hughes seems to be unsure of what direction to follow, the funk sound he obviously loves or the rockier sound his audience seems to prefer. This has produced a rather schizophrenic album, again not quite sure what it wants to be, and clogged up with rather too many well played but uninspiring middle of the road AOR type songs.
Both albums have been expanded to two cd sets by the addition of live sets recorded in London and Sao Paolo respectively. I actually think these are better in many ways than the studio albums they accompany. The Brazil set in particular captures Hughes and his band in fine form, containing a mixture of his solo stuff, combined with Trapeze and Purple material, recorded in front of a very excitable audience.
What does it all *mean*?
Rather a mixed bag – certainly not his best solo work, but both albums do have their moments – they just don’t come along often enough for my liking though.
Goes well with…
An evening of funk – or an evening of hard rock – maybe a bit of both.
Might suit people who like…
Purple from the Hughes era, Trapeze, his solo albums.