Although a few months old, this is an excellent review for 'Return Of Crystal Karma' - can't wait for the new one soon :p
Reviewed by: Stephanie Sollow / Progressive World
Glenn Hughes' new release Return Of Crystal Karma, is mainly blues-based rock. While he predates the following, I'm brought to mind of when the likes of The Black Crowes dominated the airwaves. In other words, while one could say blues-rock hadn't changed in the early nineties from what it was in the seventies, nor has it changed much in the naughties (as some people like to refer to them, it seems). James Brown seems to have been an influence on Hughes...I'll have to admit right here that I'm only familiar with Hughes to the extent of his guest spot on Niacin's latest, a few spins of a Trapeze CD, and other assorted appearances here and there. That which made me like the torch blues of "Things Ain't Like They Used To Be" on Deep is not present here, but as Hughes has stated, he was making an album for his rock fans. In fact, the title is an acronym, but I'm sure the phrase has some other meaning.
Hughes has been clean and sober for the past 9 years or so, his last two albums being the catharsis releases - Addiction and The Way It Is (like Glossolalia is for Walsh this year). There is an upbeat feel to the album as Hughes sings his lungs out, holding nothing back it seems. This Life states this quite clearly, and is vaguely reminiscent of the classic "Can't Get Next To You." There are times when I think a sax line is going rip, but it is instead Hughes squealing, and otherwise vocalizing.
Joining Hughes, who also plays bass (as expected), is Joakim Marsh on guitar, though Hughes himself contributes some, Gary Ferguson on drums, Hans Zermuehlen on keyboards (I distinctly hear a Hammond in there somewhere), and Laurence Tolhurst on electronica.
The Other Side Of Me is funky, with a nice baseline and groove. This has hit potential...actually, most of the tracks do in that AOR, classic rock kind of way. The instrumental Owed To 'J' is said to be a both a follow up to Deep Purple's "Ode To 'G'" from Come Taste The Band and dedicated to guitarist extraordinaire Jeff Beck. Days Of Avalon is a really great track, though I personally could do with a little less vocal gymnastics. Actually, that's my personal thing about this album, just too many vocal contortions, but I'll say that because Hughes can do that with his voice, go from gruff rock to falsetto ballad without missing a beat, says a great deal about his range and his vocal chords. And, if he's had the hard life that I imagine he had, just from what little I've read, it's great that he's still got the voice.
There is also a limitied edition version that includes a bonus CD Glenn Hughes - Live In South America.
More about 'Return of Crystal Karma':
The State I'm In (4:58) / Midnight Meditated (4:27) / It's Alright (4:31) / Switch The Mojo (4:33) / Gone (5:51) / The Other Side Of Me (3:50) / Angela (5:57) / Owed To "J" (5:58) / This Life (4:52) / Days Of Avalon (5:58) Total Time: 50:55
Glenn Hughes - vocals, bass
Joakim March - guitar
Gary Ferguson - drums
Hans Zermuehlen - keyboards
Laurence Tolhurst - electronica