Who would have thought that the bass player on Finders Keepers Sadie, The Cleaning Lady, an unassuming single released in 1968, would go on to assume legendary status amongst the rock faithful? Another band, and two albums later, and Glenn Hughes was hitting his stride. Medusa, from Trapeze, hinted at where this rock/funk three piece could take it, You are the Music…We’re Just the Band released a year or so later fulfilled that promise. On the latter, Hughes is simply breathtaking. Handling ALL the vocals, he is unsurpassed. On Feelin’ So Much Better Now, his three-part black chick chorus is pure En Vogue. His gutsy lead vocal soars to incredible heights on Loser, and emotes with raw soul on the classic Coast to Coast and Will Our Love End. The bass playing is blistering rock funk, a perfect foil for the late Mel Galley’s rock solid guitar and Dave Holland’s stylish syncopations. This band had it all. Small wonder then, that Hughes was poached by Deep Purple, and Trapeze soldiered on for a while until Galley was poached by Whitesnake, and Holland by Judas Priest.
Hughes fell foul of the drink and drugs lavished on him as a newly-crowned Purple rock prince. He still managed to turn in classic performances on Purple albums, and his first solo album Play Me Out, is astonishing. But, after a last gasp classic, Hughes/Thrall in 1982, containing one of the greatest funk rock riffs of all time on Muscle and Blood, Hughes plumbed the depths in his personal life. Somehow, he appeared on various albums for the likes of Gary Moore and Tony Iommi, but it wouldn’t be until the 90′s and his brush with death, that Hughes would finally get his life, and his career, back on track. But oh boy, has he made up for lost time! A string of fantastic solo albums followed, plus great rock albums with Voodoo Hill and once again with Tony Iommi. His catalogue is of such a high standard, and so vast, its almost impossible to single anything out. Regular side men include Swedish guitarist JJ Marsh, and, as a perfect foil for the funk, the Chili’s Chad Smith on drums. He is known variously as The Voice of Rock, the White Man’s Stevie Wonder, but above all he’s the funkiest mutha to take the stage.There is, quite simply no-one who can play bass and sing like this man. He stands alone.
On a personal note, he is pretty much the reason I’ve been a bassist/vocalist professionally for 30 years, and I’ve been lucky enough to meet him and tell him so. Listening to Deep Purple’s Burn album, and Glenn’s vocal and bass lines…it was like a light bulb going on in my head – so THAT’S what it’s all about!
To paraphrase his old band Trapeze’s album title YOU are the music, Glenn – we’re just the fans.
RI.P. Mel Galley, guitarist with Trapeze, Whitesnake and Phenomena, who succumbed to throat cancer on July 1st. this year.
Recommended: Trapeze: You are the Music album, Deep Purple: Come Taste the Band, Glenn Hughes: Play Me Out, Feel, Soul Mover, Music for the Divine, F.U.N.K. Hughes/Thrall:Hughes/Thrall