Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hughes/Thrall ~ Hughes/Thrall (aka debut)

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Style: hard rock
Label: Epic
Year: 1981
Home: n/a (disbanded)

Members: Glenn Hughes ~ bass/vocals
Pat Thrall ~ guitar/guitar synthesizer

Additional: Peter Schless ~ keyboards
Frankie Banali, Gary Ferguson, Gary Mallaber ~ drums


Pumping 80's synth keyboards ... sometimes it works & spawns a whole new style, i.e prog & new wave, sometimes it's an unnecessary clutter that turns what could be some great solid rock into some heavily dated sounding AOR rock. This somewhat forgotten release by H/T is marred only by the over emphasis on the keyboards ... & guitar synthesizer, which isn't much better. Considering half of H/T is a guitarist one expects more than melody lines dominated by synth guitar with the actual guitar buried in the mix by a producer who knows better, i.e. Andy Johns of the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Free, etc., leaving too much emphasis on the instruments that shouldn't be emphasized. Albeit, the bass & amazing vocal foray are really what charges & drives the album & even more so with this mix. For bassist/singer Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, & now the popular Black Country Communion, & guitarist Pat Thrall from the Pat Travers band & Al Di Meola this pairing came at an opportune moment personally & musically. Thrall had yet to cash in on his growing name recognition while Hughes had spent five years languishing in drugs & drepression following a single solo album & the death of his bandmate Tommy Bolin. The time was ripe for both of them to break free of their chains, while their respective styles & background make it a union full of potential for some interesting hard rock. The fact that the potential didn't pay off in the long-run as probably hoped is just more sad than anything & isn't necessarily anything but a cloudy reflection of the music. In the short run it's quite delightful in a sneak up on you sort of why. Months of rehearsal & songwriting went into creating this release with a keyboardist & trio of drummers including Frankie Banali of future Quiet Riot. Given the participants the resut is a surprisingly low key unglamorous affair ... its even hard to call this rock guitar album but instead feels like a radio friendly somewhat pop rock album. It feels almost as if Thrall isn't quite sure of himself & is erring on the side of caution instead of hanging loose, turning in little pieces instead of any heavy riffs, & trying to sound like what's on the scene than having any sound of his own. Hughes is outfront with his bass steadily thumping away & really making the songs what they are. While it's hard to believe he was out of music for awhile as his vocals are amazingly great & in top form & stretched out in many different direction sounding like so many of his influences. His tuneful screams, a la Graham Bonnet, are particularly delightful (i.e. "I Got Your Number"). Check out the vocals on "The Look In Your Eye" & "Muscle & Blood" & the David Lee Roth-esque "First Step Of Love" & finally understand what the buzz around him is about. Sadly, the lyrics aren't anything particularly special beyond average rock prose. On first listen many will probably find Hughes/Thrall an uninteresting release, if not a bit too Asia-esque or of the era. I did. It's far from exciting ... or at least takes a few listens to get there. It doesn't match expectations but that might be its selling point. It comes from a different direction & thus has nothing to live up to because the expections don't apply. It's one of those releases that seeps under your skin on repeated listens & the hard rockers (for example, "Muscle & Blood") suddenly rock harder & it'll be quickly obvious that there's absolutely no filler among the nine songs. It's tight & will leave one wanting more. For fan of Hughes singing or those wanting an introduction to him this release should not be missed. Thrall has done better, but his playing here has been compared to Allan Holdsworth while others have said this is the same vein that Billy Idol would tap into. Potentially. Demos were made for a follow-up but were scrapped due to bad sales & the pair split after a short tour with Santana & Ratt. Another attempt at follow-up was started in 1997, but in 2008 Hughes withdrew from the project saying a decade was too long for any musical project & would return to the scene with the outstanding all star Black Country Communion.




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