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Hughes, Glenn: Songs In The Key Of Rock (expanded remaster)
Arriving after his underrated two album project with Joe Lynn Turner, Songs In The Key Of Rock was the 10th solo studio album from one time Trapeze, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath man, Glenn Hughes. Released in 2003, the album's title was a clear nod to Stevie Wonder, but in essence actually found an artist seemingly incapable of deciding whether to be a soul man or the 'voice of rock' now confidently straddling the two. Arguably allowing this album to be one of his most comfortable efforts in this style; a good selection of the eleven tracks that made up the original album - and the European bonus track "Secret Life" and Japanese counterpart "Change" (which are both featured here) - no longer worrying whether they were rock, soul, funk, or whatever, instead simply sounding like Glenn Hughes.
The opening duo were a perfect example, the push and shove of "In My Blood" a healthy, energetic opening, while "Lost In The Zone" eases off the gas slightly while remaining just as forceful. It's a pattern followed throughout, "Gasoline" reminding of the rocking, soulful fare Hughes brought to Deep Purple, while the more heartfelt "Get You Stoned" takes on the more hazy air its name might suggest.
With one-time UFO/Mogg-Way man Jeff Kollman both producing and providing guitars - alongside longtime Hughes sidemen, guitarist JJ Marsh, drummer Gary Ferguson (Hughes/Thrall) and Ed Roth on keys - the sound on this remastered edition sparkled without ever losing the gritty edge the heavier moments needed to truly shine. Add in a couple of special guests in the shape of Red Hot Chilli Peppers drummer Chad Smith on the aforementioned "Get You Stoned" and bassist Billy Sheehan on "Changes" - possibly the rawest, most energetic cut in sight - and alongside the beautifully paced "The Truth" and unsurprisingly uncompromising but utterly unforgettable "Standing On The Rock", SITKOR was the beginning of arguably the strongest period of Glenn Hughes solo work.
As ever this reissues from Purple/Cherry Red features extensive liner notes courtesy of Glenn himself and Malcolm Dome, while coming with not one, but two discs of live material. The first is a 2003 ten track blast from London, and unusually for this reissue series marries the main album with a live show from the tour that promoted it. Thankfully that means we are treated to live versions of "In My Blood", "Higher Places (Song For Bonzo)", "Written All Over Your Face" and "Wherever You Go" while the addition of "Can't Stop The Flood" from Glenn's Building The Machine is also welcome, before the more expected Purple and Sabbath tracks round out the set.
It should possibly have been the third disc featuring a five track acoustic show in Rome earlier the same year that proves the jewel in this reissue's crown. However, with Hughes spending much of the in-between (and even during) song chatter complaining about sound issues and explaining why he isn't adding bass to the acoustic guitar, the vibe is strained and the results compromised. Hughes' voice is still outstanding as he tackles Trapeze's "Coast To Coast" and the Purple trio of "Stormbringer", "Mistreated" and "You Keep On Moving", alongside a cover of Procul Harem's "Whiter Shade Of Pale", but the mood isn't. In the end this disc is still a good addition, if not the triumph hoped for.
That however is possibly a word that could be used for Songs In The Key Of Rock itself, one of the most confident and assured efforts from Glenn Hughes solo catalogue still hitting hard to this day. That it does so in a much more relaxed, but never less than hugely energetic style, is maybe the biggest triumph of all.
DISC ONE SONGS IN THE KEY OF ROCK
1. IN MY BLOOD
2. LOST IN THE ZONE
4. HIGHER PLACES (SONG FOR BONZO)
5. GET YOU STONED
6. WRITTEN ALL OVER YOUR FACE
7. STANDING ON THE ROCK
9. THE TRUTH
10. WHEREVER YOU GO
11. HIGHER PLACES (REPRISE)
12. SECRET LIFE (EUROPEAN BONUS TRACK)
13. CHANGE (JAPAN BONUS TRACK)
DISC TWO FREAK FLAG FLYING – LIVE IN THE UK, OCTOBER 2003
1. IN MY BLOOD
2. HIGHER PLACES (SONG FOR BONZO)
3. SEAFULL / BEYOND THE NUMB
4. WRITTEN ALL OVER YOUR FACE
5. CAN'T STOP THE FLOOD
6. SEVENTH STAR
8. GETTIN' TIGHTER
9. YOU KEEP ON MOVING
10. WHEREVER YOU GO
DISC THREE UNPLUGGED LIVE IN ROME 23rd MAY 2003
3. A WHITER SHADE OF PALE
4. COAST TO COAST
5. YOU KEEP ON MOVING
Added: December 3rd 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Songs In The Key Of Rock at Cherry Red
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