Glenn Hughes - Burning Japan Live (1994)

Credits:

  • Glenn Hughes - all lead vocals (keyboards on "Still In Love With You")
  • Thomas Larsson - guitars/background vocals
  • Eric Bojfeldt - guitars/background vocals
  • Mic Michaeli - keyboards/background vocals
  • Jon Levén - bass guitar
  • Ian Haugland - drums

(European/Japanese release version)

Background

Fellow Dinosaurs: If you are unfamiliar with Glenn Hughes' voice and music, that is a grievous oversight on your part. If you are a fan of powerful rock vocalists, guys with tremendous, REAL pipes and huge ranges like Robert Plant, Ian Gillan, David Coverdale, Ronnie Dio, Rob Halford, Bruce Dickenson, Geoff Tate, you are missing the boat if you don't expose yourself to Glenn Hughes. He can sing them all under the table! You may remember Glenn from Deep Purple's post-Gillan era. Glenn was the bassist and the "other guy" singing with David Coverdale on MK III and IV Deep Purple classics like "Burn," "Stormbringer," and "You Keep on Moving." Some old Dinos may even remember Glenn Hughes from his earliest days in a band called Trapeze, or his 80s collaboration with guitarist Pat Thrall that produced a Dino classic called Hughes-Thrall. There have been countless other sessions; a few tracks on Gary Moore's 1985 Run for Cover album. A Black Sabbath album called 7th Star. But if Deep Purple and these recordings are your only exposure to Glenn Hughes--if you have not heard the man's work in the 90s and 00s, your are doing yourself a disservice. Because unlike any of the singers I listed above, Glenn Hughes' voice has gotten substantially stronger than it was 25 years ago. In his mid 40s, Hughes is a FAR better singer than he was in his early 20s. Would, that we could say the same for Robert Plant! I cannot explain why his voice is improved. He could always wail in a four + octave range, but he now has even more power and unbelievable control that you don't hear in either the studio or live Deep Purple recordings. Sure, after years of alcohol and cocaine abuse, Hughes cleaned up his life around 1990. That had to help. He also found religion, something he also credits. He calls his voice a "gift." Clearly it is, but I also call it a freak of nature.

The other thing to know about Hughes is that he's a virtuoso singer in just about any form of music, from scorching heavy metal screaming, to Stevie Wonder-like funk, to Motown-like soul, to Michael Bolton (with pipes) like pop ballads. This man sings it all, and he sings it all, and in my opinion, better than anyone else. His own music these days is a very unique marriage of styles that incorporates all of his influences. Sort of a heavy, funk-rock built on heavy, bass-driven grooves. His latest CD, 2000's Return of Krystal Karma, is a great introduction to the man's talents, as is 1995 Feel, a veritable Hughes "vocal resume" containing a stylistic smorgasbord of material. While neither of those albums really qualify "Dinosaur Rock," but they are both stunning examples of the man's work, and both are heavy enough to keep me happy. But I didn't bring you here for that. We're going to go back a bit further and listen to a power-packed, 75 minute slab of Dinosaur Rock songs, some which, you may even know.

So it's 1994, and after floundering around for much of the 80s, Glenn Hughes has beaten his addictions, gotten his life back on track and is trying to revive his career. He has just released a true "solo album" called From Now On, a pretty nice album that's a combination of AOR and Eurometal. But because he hadn't toured in ages, and because From Now On is new and relatively unfamiliar to the fans, Glenn looked back to his glory days in Deep Purple and to the afore-mentioned Hughes-Thrall album to round out his setlist on Burning Japan Live. Obviously, the Japanese were extremely familiar with the Purple material--Purple was always KING in Japan. But one listen will convince you that over there in the land of Dinosaurs, they also knew the Hughes-Thrall material intimately as well. The band that recorded From Now On, and toured supporting it included some ex-members of the Swedish pop-metal band Europe. The guitar duties were shared by Thomas Larsson and Eric Bojfeld, two players who's playing, coincidentally, sound as Swedish as their names. The guitar work on From Now On and this CD, Burning Japan Live is more than competent, and less than brilliant.

So why should you care about this album? Primarily, because the vocal performance is absolutely staggering! I will attempt to describe it adequately in the track-by-track analysis, but know that this is Hughes pushing his voice to the max, getting every once of emotion out of it, and using vocal dynamics in a range no one else can touch. Secondly, because this is was the first time in roughly 20 years, that songs like Burn and other MK III and IV Purple songs were performed live in concert. If you haven't heard them since the original versions, you're in for a treat. Hughes has made these songs his own. He's keeping them alive and breathing amazing new life into them. Third, this is Glenn at his Hard Rock/Heavy Metal best. What has come later from Glenn, while great, is not really this "genre." If you are not astonished by this album's vocals and vibe, you're not much of a Dinosaur.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Stay away from the "castrated" US release of this album. It's missing four great songs. Get the import. It's worth the extra money.

Track By Track (vocal cues in parentheses)

Burn 6:44 The old Deep Purple classic chosen for the opener. The Japanese audience must have though it had "died and gone to heaven." First thing you'll notice is two guitars bashing out the famous riff. Glenn comes in powerfully with the verse. While it's a little different-sounding from the original version, it's so strong, it shouldn't take you long to "not miss" Coverdale. Chorus comes in and you hear the part that Glenn use to sing in the old days (You know we had no time . . .) On the second time through he stabs the word "time" repeatedly in that high scream the way he did on the old live Purple recordings. Guitar solo's come in, and these guys do a decent job in a modern-Eurometal style. They don't try to cop Ritchie's solos note for note, but they play within the spirit of the song. The chorus comes in again and, Glenn blasts through it. Organ solo follows and Mic Michaeli does Jon Lord's part pretty much note-for-note. Check out the vocal note Hughes rips at the top of his lungs on the last note of the song. Checking the CD player--he holds it for 11 seconds! (Hear it!)

The Liar 4:24 This is one of the stronger tracks off of From Now On. A chugging, rhythmic, piece of modern melodic metal. I've been unable to determine if the melody over the rhythm is an instrument or Hughes doing an "Immigrant Song-like" part vocally, or both. The chorus is nice and changes the chug feel to a more chord-based melodic part. Nice, powerful bridge, almost like a "breakdown." Glenn comes in and wails (Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaar! You're the one, You're the one, You're the one, they call the Liiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaar!)/ Back to the intro part.

Muscle And Blood 5:32 This song came from the Hughes-Thrall album. Pure metal. Great riff! Plods a little more than the original version, in part, because this bassist doesn't play with Glenn's feel for the groove. As the second verse starts, (Lying in the gutter), Glenn starts playing with his voice and improvising a bit, and this continues through the chorus (Nothing can stop me, I'm a man made of muscle and blood) The guitarists do a good job and stick pretty close to Pat Thrall's original solo. Third verse, Glenn continues to just wail at will, alternating between top-of-the-range screams (standing in the shadows) to soulful melodies (I'm gonna make my plan). Again, he's just fucking around with his voice, playing with the melodies, singing whatever way he feels. The results are unreal. His voice never cracks, or waivers. He never misses the note he's going for. He's in total control.

Lay My Body Down 5:08 Another good track off of From Now On. Kind of a "light metal" song. Metal verse, with a pop type chorus. He sticks pretty close to the studio version here. Pretty nice guitar solo by Larsson. On one of the closing choruses, Glenn's shows off his falsetto voice (till the early morning light) which is just another weapon in his vocal arsenal.

From Now On... 6:00 They lighten the feel up here with the more AOR-sounding title track from the album. An uptempo, kind of song--almost a ballad. You get a more soulful than "metal" singer here, but another total, vocal workout. Right before the second verse starts, Glenn hits a really high note from out of nowhere. It's got tons of wind behind it, but it has a totally different vocal character than the frantic metal screams on the previous tracks. Harmony guitar solo, then the boys each trade off a quick one. The chorus repeats a few times, then the song drops back into its groove and gives Glenn another opportunity to just vocally improvise. Not just the high stuff, but the soft stuff, the low stuff. You begin to get a feel for how much he can do with his voice.

Into The Void 7:03 Another From Now On track. Here's the one that's reminiscent of the band Europe. It has that Final Countdown feel. Big keyboard track. Hughes sings a nice melodic verse using more of his low range. Verse part two builds the tension and the chorus releases it. The vocal keeps upping the tension too, and Glenn mixes in some metal type screams in. Listen to the power behind the outro refrain of (I can remember).

Still In Love With You 2:10 No relation to the Thin Lizzy song--this is just a little interlude with keys and voice. Glenn playing keys and just singing his ass off in a variety of styles, mostly soulful--almost Stevie Wonder territory, then he starts pouring on the power that's pure Glenn, and finishes up with stuff that reminds me of Smokey Robinson. It's amazing.

Coast To Coast 6:08 This is pretty much Glenn's signature piece. He wrote it at age 18 in Trapeze. The original version appeared on You are the Music We are the Band. He re-recorded a better version of it on the Hughes-Thrall album. You'll find it on any live Hughes recording. This version is as nice as any I've heard. There's another vocal breakdown in the middle section for Glenn to stretch his pipes and simply floor you with what he can do with his voice. Glenn is clearly drawing on a stylistic depth that simply isn't present in most rock/metal singers--even the great ones. This "scary-good" stuff continues as the song trails out. The audience is completely mesmerized, you could hear a pin drop as the keys fade out and he finishes up with some acapella improv.

This Time Around 3:32 This song, and Owed To G that follows it, originally appeared on Deep Purple's Come Taste the Band album. Both tracks were written by Hughes/Lord/Bolin. A very different kind of music than what's typically associated with Purple. No guitar to speak of on this part, just keys, bass, and vocals. The original version is beautiful, and this one is even more powerful.

Owed To G 2:48 This song is the instrumental jam that followed This Time around. It was one of Tommy Bolin's better moments on Come Taste the Band and the guitarists here do a nice job with it. The "G" that this is "Owed to" is purportedly Gershwin.

Gettin' Tighter 3:59 Another great song from Come Taste the Band. It's funky, heavy, and very similar to the kind of music Glenn Hughes makes today. The funk breakdown in the middle of the song is the kind of stuff that drove Ritchie Blackmore nuts and sent him packing from Deep Purple. Despite that, this song moves and it grooves!

You Keep On Moving 7:11 For me, this is this best track on the album (and it's not even on the U.S. version). Again, another track from Come Taste the Band. Like Coast to Coast, this is one of Glenn's favorite songs, and appears on most of his live recordings. The version on this CD is the strongest. The song itself kicks ass. It's right up there with my all-time favorite Deep Purple songs. The original version had breathtaking vocal harmonies between Coverdale and Hughes. Glenn, obviously, sings it without those harmonies here, but he more than makes up for them with this passionate, and dynamic performance. The song starts slow, but powerfully. Part one of the verse creates tension over the song's signature bass line and keys. The second part of the verse (Every day, wheels are turning) adds the power guitar. Glenn's still getting warmed up a the tune hits the chorus (Dawn will soon be breaking, the day has just begun) . A keyboard solo follows the chorus. Another chorus follows, and Glenn really cuts loose and goes for it here--listen to him rip out the phrase: (like a circle round the sun) Holy shit! The verse comes back in soft again like the intro. Glenn has the audience sing the verse part one, and then pulls out all the stops for the finale--(Every day, the wheels are turning . . . and the criiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiies still retuning). Listen to vocal vibrato he uses on the note(s) he hits on the word "cries"--it's just unbelievable. It gives me chills. (Hear it!)

Lady Double Dealer 3:24 From the Stormbringer album, as Glenn notes as he introduces it. This uptempo rocker is a song that's much more "Coverdale and Blackmore" than Hughes, but Glenn does a nice job with it, as do the guitarists. Glenn plows through it fairly straight, aside from a few shrieks.

I Got Your Number 4:17 This one came from Hughes-Thrall originally. Clearly a favorite of the Japanese audience who do the call-and-response thing with Hughes. Kind of a 80s Pop metal type of song, with pop chorus. Glenn is still going for the "shred" early and often screaming out parts for emphasis. If you're waiting for his voice to give out , forget about it.

Stormbringer 5:10 Title track of the Deep Purple album of the same name. Great song! This is pretty stompin' version. Again, Glenn taking over what had been more of a Coverdale song, and while he sings it fairly straight, he manages to make it his own with nice results. It closes the concert very nicely.

Sumary

So there you have it. A vocal "tour-de-force" performance on a great set of songs that many Dinosaurs may be unfamiliar with. If you're a Dinosaur, and you aren't a Glenn Hughes fan after hearing this one, I suggest you check your pulse. You may be dead!

Related / Also Recommended:

  • Hughes Thrall: Hughes Thrall - V V V V
  • Glenn Hughes: From Now On - V V V V
  • Deep Purple: Burn - V V V V V
  • Deep Purple: Stormbringer - V V V V v
  • Deep Purple: Come Taste the Band - V V V V v

By Dinosaur David B. Copyright ©2001 All rights reserved.