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Glenn Hughes

Return of Crystal Karma (2 CD Edition)

Review by Gary Hill

This is part of a series of reissues of Glenn Hughes solo albums. It's one of the stronger releases in the set, too. Like the rest, the second CD is a live one. I have to say that the sound quality on that show is better than some of the rest. The gig is great, too, although a little short. The main album is a bit more on the heavier, metallic side, but there is still plenty of fusion here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc One
              
Return to Crystal Karma
                     
The State I'm in

This screams in with a metallic edge and fury. It drops to more of an AOR rock vibe for the vocal section. There is a good balance between those two sounds as this cut makes its way through.

Midnight Meditated
Another stomping hot hard rocker, this is classy stuff. It has some great hooks and just plain rocks. It has less of a metal edge than the opener did, but it still has plenty of crunch. I love the guitar solo on this.
It's Alright
Much more of a funk-driven, jazzy rocker, this is a great change and real winner. It's so catchy and tasty. The vocal arrangement is stellar, too. The funk laden, keyboard dominated break is so cool. The guitar solo that follows is on fire. This is one of my favorites here.
Switch the Mojo
Speaking of funk, this one is filled to capacity with that commodity. I love the bass work. The drumming is exceptional, too. This is a powerhouse jam that's another highlight of the disc.
Gone
A song co-written by Tony Iommi, this (like a lot of the music here) reminds me of Living Colour. That said, there are some Sabbath like elements built into this one. Wherever you see the influences landing, though, this is fierce and so cool. It has a great guitar solo. I think it's my favorite song of the whole disc.
The Other Side of Me

Funk and hard rock merge on this screamer. It's such an incredible rocker with another killer guitar solo. This is a winner on a disc that's full of winners.

Angela
The opening of this has a real progressive rock vibe to it. The cut works out to a jam that's almost as much fusion as it is rocker. This is soulful and accessible. It's also a nice bit of variety.
Owed to "J"
This is an instrumental (well, it has non-lyrical vocals) that has a lot of fusion and prog rock in the mix. It's a real powerhouse.
This Life

Funk and hard rock merge in another stomping hot rocker.

Days of Avalon
A soulful number, this is a slower one. It's more along the lines of a ballad, but not as mellow as that would make you think. I suppose it fits as a power ballad, but it's soul music based rather than metal. Sure, there is still some hard rocking stuff here, though. While I normally think that ending on a slower tune isn't the best idea, this one is particularly strong and therefore works very well in that slot.
Disc Two
               
Live in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 25th November 1999
           
You Kill Me

Starting with drums, this is a killer hard rocker. It's got a great groove and works quite well.

Neverafter
This cut is more soulful, but there is a definite metal edge to it. Still, the funk drives this like crazy.
First Step of Love
This is much more of an AOR rocker. It's another strong tune.
No Stranger to Love
A song Hughes originally recorded with Black Sabbath, keyboards lead it out here. It works through some harder rocking stuff before dropping back to piano for the vocals. The balance between mellower and more rocking stuff is great. There is some particularly evocative guitar soloing on the tune.
Coast to Coast
A cut that Hughes originally recorded with Trapeze, this is a cool AOR based rocker. This gets some scat singing mid-track. There is a cool piano solo section beyond that. A great jazz based section works out from there. At almost ten and a half minutes, this is the longest cut here.
Your Love Is Alright

Another from Trapeze, this is a classy jazzy rocker. There is some smoking hot fusion jamming. This is another extended cut. It's a smoking hot jam that's just a lot of fun. It has jazz, rock and roll and more built into it.

 

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