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Hughes, Glenn: Feel (expanded remaster)
Unlike many can, Glenn Hughes solo career not only splits wider opinion but even that of his own fanbase. Why? Well, purely and simply because he dares to be different. Or at least different within a trio of frameworks. Is he the voice of rock? Is he the king of funk? Or is he the ultimate soul man? In all honesty the answer is simply yes. Glenn Hughes can and is often all three but seldom at the same time and for many that's the main issue.
Feel was Hughes' fourth solo album, the all out funk, soul and R&B of Play Me Out hitting the shelves in 1977, before the misguided L.A. Blues Authority Volume II: Glenn Hughes - Blues, arrived as far down the line as 1992. From Now On… lived up to the statement of intent its title suggested two years later, bringing the man back into a rock (with a twist) setting in quite scintillating style. Before the confusing back and forth between funk and rock that Hughes has long preferred, continued. Feel, in 1995, heading down a funk path with some real hip grooving fare mixed with incredible vocal gymnastics and some more restrained moments. Getting his - to quote Hughes from the interview on the bonus CD in this two disc pack - 'shit back together' after being 'led astray', it has to be said that this period of his solo work is vastly underrated. Everything between From Now On… to Return Of Crystal Karma (with its cunning acronym ROCK) finding the man in great form and incredible voice – although arguably what's come after has been even better.
Gathering together a huge cast list to bring the album into being, some of the most notable names on Feel belong to World Trade/Unruly Child pair Bruce Gowdy (guitars and keys) and Guy Allison (bass synthesizers) alongside Matt Sorum (Guns n' Roses and The Cult) on drums, although like everyone else other than Hughes, they all only appear fleetingly. Most exciting for his long term fans however, was the 'reunion' between Hughes and guitarist/keyboard man Pat Thrall on eight of the eleven tracks; the pair's legendary 1982 Hughes/Thrall album still held up, quite rightly, as a classic. Only two of those collaboration cuts are actual Hughes-Thrall co-writes, the album's rocking, popping opener "Big Time" an absolute joy, while the deeper, grittier groove of "Redline" eases off completely to allow Hughes to show his deep, rich tones in the most refined setting. Elsewhere the pair also combine on the light pop of "Does It Mean That Much To You" and 70s funk of Stevie Wonder's "Maybe You Baby". Although the best track to feature the duo is the strut and stalk of "Push!", which is one of those songs where the beat is so irresistible that to try and walk anywhere when its playing results in all manner of embarrassing contortionist like convulsions. Something the ever so slightly cheesy funk of "She Just Loves Your Money" also causes, whether you like it or you don't. Things slightly lose their way at times when the sound veers too far in this direction, illustrating why so many in Hughes' rock audience find the funk ride a bumpy and dissatisfying one. Yet with "Livin' For The Minute" possessing an atmospheric sheen and "Speak Your Mind" a deep, believable groove, there's no denying the heart and (pun intended) soul behind it all, or the re-recorded Deep Purple track "Holy Man", included here as a disc one 'bonus'.
A ever from Cherry Red and their Purple Records imprint, Feel comes with an insightful (Malcolm Dome penned) essay featuring new thoughts from Hughes, while there's also a bonus disc featuring a selection of radio clips and live tracks from the (rather oddly) From Now On… promo-push. For any Glenn Hughes fan who doesn't already have the two tracks he acoustically laid down from FNO… for radio Carola in The Netherlands, then they are simply a must – hearing the interviewer almost squeal with excitement at the conclusion of that album's title track and just how amazing Hughes' vocals were, worth the purchase price on its own. Add in "So Much Love To Give" and further versions of "From Now On…" and Lay My Body Down" and the bonuses add value in a way not always expected. A seven track good bootleg quality performance from 1994's Schüttdorf Open Air closes the disc out in fine form and while it's questionable whether anyone really needs another version of Deep Purple's "Burn" or "Stormbringer", a clearly pumped up Hughes brings the thunder in fine style.
Feel may not be everybody's favourite side of Glenn Hughes, focusing so intently on his funk predilection. However, if you too like to get as down and dirty with it as the main man here clearly does, then you'll take great pleasure in hearing an astronomically talented singer letting loose as only Glenn Hughes can.
DISC ONE: ORIGINAL ALBUM
1. BIG TIME
2. LIVIN' FOR THE MINUTE
3. DOES IT MEAN THAT MUCH TO YOU?
4. SAVE ME TONIGHT (I'LL BE WAITING)
6. COFFEE & VANILLA
8. SHE LOVES YOUR MONEY
9. SPEAK YOUR MIND
10. TALKIN' TO MESSIAH
11. MAYBE YOUR BABY
12. HOLY MAN
DISC TWO: BONUS TRACKS
LIVE CAROLA HOLLAND 20/10/1994 1. INTRODUCTION
2. FROM NOW ON
4. LAY MY BODY DOWN
UNPLUGGED IN STOCKHOLM 28/07/1993
5. SO MUCH LOVE TO GIVE
UNPLUGGED IN JAPAN 26/02/1994
6. FROM NOW ON...
7. YOU KEEP ON MOVING
8. LAY MY BODY DOWN
SCHÜTTDORF OPEN AIR 02/07/1994
11. MUSCLE AND BLOOD
12. LAY MY BODY DOWN
13. INTO THE VOID
14. GETTIN' TIGHTER
Added: July 9th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Feel at Cherry Red
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