Saturday, April 16, 2005

Music Review: Glenn Hughes - Soul Mover

Soul Mover is the latest CD from Glenn Hughes, the master of funky rock with a heavy, classic feel. Hughes, for those not familiar with his career, is the former bassist/vocalist for the bands Trapeze and Deep Purple. Soul Mover is his most recent solo release.
Hughes and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith lead things off on the title track with a heavy funk groove for guest star Dave Navarro (Jane's Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers) to lay down a slick guitar solo.
She Moves Ghostly is an up-tempo track that features some nice multi-tracked vocals from the man himself. Longtime guitarist JJ Marsh (who has been with Hughes since Glenn's 1996 Addiction CD) throws down a tight guitar solo over the Smith's energetic percussion.
High Road is a solid piece of heavy funk with Hughes digging a deep groove on the bass over which Smith provides some nice fills. Marsh throws in an oriental-tinged solo while keyboardist Ed Roth gives the track a spacey feel.
Orion is a pumping, but lryically silly slice of funk that features some interesting interplay between Marsh and Roth.
Change Yourself is a mid-tempo song that contains some of Hughes' most heartfelt singing as he touches on the theme of self-improvement. As if on cue, the next track, Let It Go, seems to symbolize some of Glenn's own experience with the aforementioned subject by way of self-examination. The track has a dark feel in the slower parts, but the mood picks up with more of Hughes' emotional vocals that lead into a spirited guitar solo by Marsh. Smith holds the beat down while Roth provides a gloomy feel.
Dark Star is a chunk of funk in which Hughes and Smith form a foundation for Marsh and Roth to throw some slinky fills around. In addition, Marsh also fires off a tight wah-wah laced solo to keep things pumping.
Isolation begins with some soft percussion, steady bass and subtle keyboard work as Glenn's multi-tracked voice fills with emotion as the track picks up in intensity before slowing down again. Marsh fires off a quick solo as the song slows down once again, and Hughes soulful voice blends with Roth's quiet keyboards to end the track.
Land Of The Livin' (Wonderland) is an up-tempo song that is only slightly less silly lyrically than Orion. Smith hammers the drum kit for all he is worth while Marsh gets busy on the wah-wah once again. Roth throws in some nice fills around the Hughes-Smith backbeat.
Miss Little Insane is a heavy rocker with Hughes pounding bass lines and Smith's sharp fills. Marsh and Roth combine in the solo spot to make some chaotic sounds.
Last Mistake is a slow, melodic song in which the entire band comes together nicely. Marsh's and Smith's fills are short and understated. Marsh's main guitar solo flourishes over Roth's organ playing.
Don't Let Me Bleed goes from ballad-like verses to heavy choruses. Marsh takes a long, meandering solo that doesn't stray far from the main melody. Smith's drumming goes from a light touch to a heavy stomp over and over. Roth again provides some nice lines toward the end of the song as he joins Marsh as they play some tight harmonies.

My overall impression is that this is the most cohesive collection of songs Glenn has put together since his 2000 release, Return Of Crystal Karma. Over the years, Hughes has performed at such a high level that it seems absurd to suggest that anything new he does is his best effort, whether it is his bass playing, singing or writing/arranging. The Smith and Navarro contributions were brilliant, and one wonders if they will be included in future Hughes recordings. Fans of Glenn's previous work should like this new effort just fine.

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