Glenn Hughes

First Underground Nuclear Kitchen

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It might be fair to say that the decade starting in 2000 turned out to be a plateau in the career of former Deep Purple bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes. Back then he released Return of Crystal Karma (which abbreviates to ROCK) and in 2008 he delivered First Underground Nuclear Kitchen (indicating FUNK, of course, that other pillar of the Glenn Hughes style). Those albums bookend a steady run of annual albums, and anyone whose curiosity is aroused by the strange title of this one is rewarded with the full bloom of the talent that indeed sounded very promising way back in his time with Deep Purple, but got sidetracked somewhere in the '80s, only to start regaining ground during the '90s. Funk-rock in excelsis is indeed what listeners get here, but the ingredient that actually sets it apart and above most current competition is the jazz sensibility woven into the compositions and the vocal style. That makes for an elegance that reminds you what a "lost art" funk-rock is (which also means that this album sounds firmly rooted in the '70s, right down to brass arrangements and Fender Rhodes piano). Powerful tracks like opener "Crave" and the title track are balanced with a few soulful ballads ("Satellite," "Imperfection," and the closing "float-out track," "Where There's a Will"). Slightly less funky, more "epic" rock tracks "Oil and Water" and "Too Late to Save the World" near the end provide the climax, and thus probably raise the album's appeal for more "straightforward" rock fans. The lyrics prefer a metaphoric bent, a bit on the vague side, but possibly because they shouldn't distract from the impact of what's going on in the music, which is what really does grab the listener first and foremost. Hughes obviously gives philosophical importance to considerations of the "divine light" variety, but the fact that he doesn't overdo that angle gives testament to how well connected to his source of inspiration he has become. Chad Smith (of Red Hot Chili Peppers) on drums, guitarist Luis Maldonado (who co-wrote five of the songs), and all the other musicians also fit into the picture perfectly. Well worth being (re)discovered by a larger audience again.

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