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Ian Sutherland
ian sutherland

voodoo hill

It's been a bit of a Deep Purple couple of weeks for me. I reviewed the new Blackmore's Night release and then followed it up with the Demon's Eye team up between a top class Purple tribute act and ex Rainbow man Doogie White. Now it's time for a new work from another alumnus from the family tree, Glenn Hughes.

Most recently Hughes has been seen adding his huge bass and vocal talents to a couple of high profile power trios in Black Country Communion and California Breed. Now that both of those bands have folded/exploded/expired(delete to taste) and while he is currently continuing the power trio idea on tour with ex Whitesnake axe man Doug Aldrich in tow, this Voodoo Hill release is the first new music to see the light of day since the California Breed album.

For a long time Hughes produced a huge amount of work collaborating with other people alongside his own solo releases. Collectors of the man's work gnashed their teeth and emptied their wallets as he appeared as a guest here there and everywhere as well as doing more high profile work with Tony Iommi, Gary Moore, Joe Lynn Turner and others.

Voodoo Hill was a collaboration with Italian axe man Dario Mollo which produced a couple of well received and high quality melodic hard rock albums and here after a gap of eleven years the duo have joined together for a third time.

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Fans of Mr Hughes doing his old school melodic hard rock thing will be very happy with this album. A little less heavy than 2004's 'Wild Seed Of Mother Earth'. 'Waterfall' sees none of the seventies vibe of BCC et al, none of his funk and soul leanings and none of the over the top vocal histrionics he sometimes unleashes.

Instead we get a Hughes more focussed on using what is still a superbly powerful vocal talent to enhance some excellent songs which fit right in with the other Voodoo Hill releases to date.

Opening track 'All That Remains' is a bit underpowered and starts the album off on a weak note but the bluesier tones of 'The Well' immediately moves thing up a couple of notches. The meaty 'Rattle Shake Bone' features some fine guitar work from Mollo (and while overshadowed in star power terms we must remember at least half this album belongs to the Italian) but it is the middle of the album where the peaks are to be found.

'Underneath And Down Below' is as good as anything Hughes has done in the last twenty years for me. A brooding, bluesy vocal hovers over some great riffing and lead lines. The atmospheric down parts work as well as the full on melodies and soaring vocals on the up parts to create something which is somewhere in between Hughes/Thrall and Dio era Rainbow in vibe, but recognisably a Hughes original.

The title track follows and is a more gentle affair, a beautifully put together melodic rock power ballad with a great vocal chorus hook line which sticks in the mind for ages after you first hear it. Absolutely superb vocals throughout within a lovingly constructed song which lets them live and breathe. Fantastic stuff.

Hard to follow those two great songs but 'Karma Go' does it by going in a completely different direction with an insistent chugging riff and heavy groove. 'Evil Thing' is like a little brother to 'Karma Go' with a similar idea done in a more understated fashion and 'Eldorado' is a more perfunctory hard rock tune which just seems to slip by without making a huge impression.

'White Feather' is another more measured, slower number with plenty of spaces left throughout for the Hughes vocals and Mollo lead guitar to really strut their stuff. 'Sunflower' is laid back and lets the melody flow underneath some nice atmospheric riffing guitar and finally 'Last Door' keeps things more in the atmospheric than rocking vein and allows Dario Mollo to finish the album on a high with a superb solo mid song.

Anyone who has been wishing Glenn Hughes returned to his melodic hard rock days of the eighties and nineties leaving behind his funk and soul leanings and his seventies return to Trapeze ideas will love this album. It's pretty damn good throughout and the high points match the best tunes from his collaborations with Iommi and Moore back in the day.

Whether it gives us any clue as to what musical direction his solo career will take from here remains to be seen but I for one doff my hat to Dario Mollo for giving us at least this little slice of the man in melodic hard rock mode.

Line up:
Dario Mollo – Guitars
Dario Patti - Bass, Keys
Riccardo Vruna – Drums
Andrea Maiellano - Additional Bass on 3, 4, 6
Vladimir Ruzicic Kebac - Drums on 7, 9, 11




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