Hughes, Glenn: Building The Machine (expanded remaster)
Released in 2001, Building The Machine saw ex-Trapeze, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath bassist and singer Glenn Hughes paring his band down to a three piece for a back to basics approach. Utilising a more natural, unforced delivery in both his peerless vocals and the musical style presented, Hughes was flanked by long time collaborators JJ Marsh on guitar and Gary Ferguson on drums. Sporting a cover that makes Hughes look like a leftover from a fashion shoot, as he colour coordinates his leather jacket with a stairwell, the understated, if not quite so misplaced theme continues in what you find inside. Long known as the 'voice of rock', Hughes can never really give a downplayed vocal performance and yet across the album the feel you often have is one of sitting in on a band playing a laid back jam. The easy, natural flow of keyboards (courtesy of 'guest musician' Vince Di Cola) on the likes of "I Will Follow", as it works keenly alongside Marsh's guitar, proving particularly captivating. If flow and feel is important there, it's utterly vital on the shimmering "Beyond The Numb", a meandering bass line lithely setting the tone for one of the most contained and controlled Hughes vocals you'll find anywhere.
Guitarist Pat Travers shows up for the ballsy funk rock of "I Just Wanna Celebrate", as he and Hughes ham it up behind the mic, while Toto's Bobby Kimball provides background vocals on both "Don't Let It Slip Away" and "Inside". The latter allowing Marsh to really show his guitar chops in a manner seldom utilised in this configuration, his guitar solo a thing of real beauty. While a pretty straight up cover of Deep Purple's "High Ball Shooter", originally from the Hughes infused Stormbringer album, remains just as irresistible as ever. Adding the Japanese bonus cut "Cosmic Spell" at the album's tail, things end in unabashed funk style as a collection of songs that always sits nearer that end of the spectrum come to a conclusion. In the end it makes for a good album that sets a tone and stays in that frame of mind, even if it won't satisfy the more rock fixated element of the bassist and singer's fanbase.
Once again Malcolm Dome interviews Glenn to find out more about this time of the man's career, while, as this series of reissues has done almost throughout, a disc of live material is also included. This time we're heading two years prior to the album it accompanies, this Koln, Germany show coming from 1999. Hence we get a three song selection of "You Kill Me", "Neverafter" and "No Stranger To Love" from the Return Of Crystal Karma and The Way It Is albums. The rest is reworked Deep Purple cuts, even if "Gettin' Tighter" does segue into Hughes surprise hit with KLF, "What Time Is Love?". Compared to the plethora of Hughes live material that's come out both as part of this reissue series, and beyond, this show will never be a classic but there's little point denying that hearing Hughes sing songs such as "Burn", "You Fool No One" or "Stormbringer" never really gets old.
For some Building The Machine will be a little underwhelming, but having the opportunity to reappraise a set of songs that remain assured and composed in this remastered setting, is still an extremely interesting journey. It's one that some will find too sedate and maybe even a little self indulgent, but for others that may well be the real draw.
DISC ONE: BUILDING THE MACHINE
1. CAN'T STOP THE FLOOD
3. OUT ON ME
4. I JUST WANT TO CELEBRATE
5. DON'T LET IT SLIP AWAY
6. FEELS LIKE HOME
7. HIGHBALL SHOOTER
8. WHEN YOU FALL
9. I WILL FOLLOW YOU
10. BEYOND THE NUMB
11. BIG SKY
12. COSMIC SPELL (JAPAN BONUS TRACK)
DISC TWO LIVE KOLN, GERMANY 6th DECEMBER 1999
2. MIGHT JUST TAKE YOUR LIFE
3. YOU KILL ME
5. NO STRANGER TO LOVE
6. GETTING TIGHTER (INCLUDING AMERICA: WHAT TIME IS LOVE?)
7. YOU KEEP ON MOVING
9. YOU FOOL NO ONE
Added: December 3rd 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Building The Machine at Cherry Red
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