Courtesy: Mazur P.R.
Firmly established among the very cream of rock vocalists, Cannock-born bassist/frontman Glenn Hughes has enjoyed a remarkable career that has seen him work with such big-hitters as Deep Purple, Trapeze, Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, the K.L.F. and even Earth Wind & Fire, as well as winning plaudits from fellow performers like Stevie Wonder, Free's Paul Rodgers and David Bowie.
Glenn Hughes' diversity has traditionally been his lifeblood, but Return of Crystal Karma is his hardest rocking release in years, from its opening track of "The State I'm In" to the last hard-hitting riff. In short, it's the album that his hardcore fans have been craving him to make. "Some of my first sober recordings of the '90s were a little choppy, but play the new one's first five or six tracks and you'll be bouncing off the walls. Although I was proud of my last two albums, Addiction ('96) and last year's The Way It Is, if you'd have asked me to pick my favourite tracks I'd have picked three or four from each. But with this one, I LOVE ALL THESE F**KING TRACKS," roars the buoyant Hughes. "While a lot of my peers that are rockers can only play one form of music, I always combine a lot of R&B, soul and funk influences into what I do. But this one's for my rock-based fans - that why its initials are R.O.C.K."
Whereas, lyrically speaking, the aforementioned Addiction was brutally frank and somewhat dark - Glenn referred to it at the time as "a healing album" because it allowed him to confront the demons of a less than lillywhite past - Return of Crystal Karma is the opposite. Now nine years clean and sober, pure entertainment is this album's prime motivation. "Each album I write is about where I'm at at that point in my life, and although I wasn't that way for years and years, I've been happy with myself for some time now," he explains. "Spiritually, it just doesn't get any better than this. I'm walking six feet off the ground, and that comes across when I start to sing. I have no hesitation in comparing this to the early Trapeze records."
Besides co-producing the album with Michael Scott of Van Halen's For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge fame, Hughes also broke convention by contributing guitar as well as bass to certain tracks, encouraged by his backing band's regular six-string whizz-kid Joakim Marsh. Those thunderous drums you'll hear come from the impressive Gary Ferguson. Among the album's choicest cuts is "Gone," which Hughes originally co-wrote with Tony Iommi for the Black Sabbath guitarist's soon-to-be-released solo album. Yet when this song and others the pair had written in 1996 for the same purpose somehow found their way onto the bootleg market, Iommi scrapped them. Glenn rightly felt "Gone" was simply too good to waste. Meanwhile, Deep Purple fans will be interested to learn of "Ode to J," another instrumental number that follows in the footsteps of Purple's Come Taste the Band track "Ode to G", they'll also be intrigued to learn that its subject was none other than Hughes' hero, Jeff Beck. And "Days of Avalon" is one of the new album's very few moments of contemplation. "It's about crossing over to the other side, but although it's about death it's still a very beautiful song," states Glenn.
Hughes has worked long and hard to secure his reputation among the elite of rock singers. Having joined Deep Purple in the mid-'70s from his first band of note, Trapeze, the bassist proceeded to handle the vocal parts that David Coverdale found too difficult to sing! After the Purple experience, he formed the hugely influential Hughes/Thrall with former Pat Travers Band guitarist Pat Thrall - a long-awaited follow-up is currently being prepared - and then sang on Black Sabbath's critically acclaimed Seventh Star album. Since then, Glenn has guested on Gary Moore's Run For Cover and sang back-ups with Whitesnake on Slip Of The Tongue. He was then invited to sing lead vocals on the KLF's worldwide chartbuster "America: What Time Is Love" in 1992. So impressed with Hughes' performance were the hip dance crew that they dubbed him "The Voice of Rock." It stuck.