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Glenn Hughes – Songs In The Key Of Rock (3 CDs / 2017 Remastered and Expanded)

The expansion continues . . . 

Reviewed by Brian McGowan. Released by Cherry Red Records, 25 November 2017.

Another nicely bundled Glenn Hughes remaster from Cherry Red, a 3CD affair, built around Hughes’ 2003 album. With Freak Flag Flying, Live in UK 2003, and Live In Rome 2003 making up discs 2 and 3.

14 years ago, Hughes force fitted two messages into the album’s title, telling us not very subtly that he still worships Wonder, and perversely, that he is still very much of a rock animal.

Having made it clear then that you can’t stop the rock, Hughes ignites the album with the blazing opener, ‘In My Blood’. It’s full of funk flourishes and pumped bass lines, but at its core this is a hard rock bruiser. Still, it’s the gut punch of the hardbodied ‘Gasoline’ that floors us. It comes out of its corner swinging wildly and doesn’t slow down till it’s drawn blood. ‘Higher Places’, a tribute to John (LZ) Bonham, synchronises an ominous marching beat to a truncated riff, perfectly capturing the emotional pulse of blues based electric rock. You can hear Hughes trying to impress, but he’s never over eager, patiently building songs like ‘Standing On The Rock’ and ‘Courageous’ into unstoppable forces.

It’s not a symphonic album, but it’s constructed that way, with the album pivoting on ‘Written All Over Your Face’, the album’s centrepiece. Not only did Hughes emerge from years of drug addiction with his voice intact, but those years added a gritty veracity to his vocal delivery, turning each set of lyrics into a lived in experience. He’s totally invested in ‘Written…’, you can almost make out the teardrops on the page. If he never writes another song … etc etc.

Two bonus tracks – both originally available as Europe/Japan only extras – have been added to this reissue.

Recorded live during Hughes’ 2003 “Love And Homecoming” tour, the 10 track Freak Flag Flying was subsequently merchandised at his “Soul Mover 2005” tour, before becoming more widely available. It’s presented here as a bonus CD. As is Hughes’ Live in Rome 2003. This gig is something of a legend with fans, with scorching treatments of ‘Stormbringer’ and ‘Mistreated’ breathing new life into two 30 year old songs.

These sets are probably among the best quality sound recordings of any Hughes’ gigs, a fact acknowledged by many in the more popular fan forums in the world of Glenn Hughes.

Track Lists:

Disc 1 : Songs In The Key Of Rock

  1. In My Bloodglennhughessongskey500
  2. Lost In The Zone
  3. Gasoline
  4. Higher Places
  5. Get You Stoned
  6. Written All Over Your Face
  7. Standing On The Rock
  8. Courageous
  9. The Truth
  10. Wherever You Go
  11. Higher Places (reprise)
  12. Secret Life (European bonus track)
  13. Change (Japanese bonus track)

Disc 2 : Freak Flag Flying – Live in UK 2003

  1. In My Blood
  2. Higher Places
  3. Seafull/ Beyond The Numb
  4. Written All Over Your Face
  5. Can’t Stop The Flood
  6. Seventh Star
  7. Mistreated
  8. Gettin Tighter
  9. You Keep On Moving
  10. Wherever You Go

Disc 3 : Live In Rome 2003

  1. Stormbringer
  2. Mistreated
  3. A Whiter Shade Of Pale
  4. Coast To Coast
  5. You Keep On Moving
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