An audio description / audio commentary of what the HUGHES THRALL album is all about. Listen: https://scribie.com/files/41b743475b884c26a96e4e4c837507f377f971ca
Hughes/Thrall. 1982 Uk pressing EPC25052.
There was quite a weight of anticipation on this album when it came out, as no one had heard much from Glenn Hughes since 1976’s Play me out LP . Most thought he had fallen into the abyss of excess in LA (and frankly i believe that wasn’t far from the truth). Fortunately the album lived up to the expectations and revealed Glenn on top form. It couldn’t really be pigeonholed style wise, but there are some heavyweight rockers, alongside sublime ballads. There actually is not a dud on here, and certainly some of Glenn’s purest vocals. The article is from Kerrang magazine and shows the excitement that this created in the rock music community.
Hughes/Thrall. 1982 Uk pressing EPC25052.
Without a doubt, HUGHES / THRALL is among the finest works from Glenn Hughes’ fructiferous career. When Deep Purple finally collapsed in mid 1976 beneath a blanket of fatigue and insurrection all bets were off as to which members would fly phoenix like from the wreckage. Loaded with talent, Purple was a breeding ground for a significant amount of lofty and successful spin off projects including Whitesnake, Rainbow and Gillan but it wasn’t until 1982, following a couple of low key solo projects, that bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes resurfaced with a unit that would quite rightly stop the Rock world in its tracks.
Teaming up with highly respected guitar maestro Pat Thrall (Automatic Man, Pat Travers Band, Asia) the duo formed HUGHES / THRALL, a collaboration that not only promised much on paper but would eventually deliver one of, if not the best, post Deep Purple records in that particular cannon of excellence.
Meticulously produced by seasoned studio guru Andy Johns (Free, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen) the record received an overwhelmingly enthusiastic reception from old and new fans alike.
Basking in clear cut melodies, razor sharp guitar chops and edgy production there’s some of the best Melodic Hard Rock songs crafted in the first half of the ’80s, on par with any Journey or Foreigner album.
The icing on the cake? Well, Glenn Hughes pipes, of course. The Voice of Rock has never sounded so confident and so well suited to the material displayed on this album.
Every song, every phrase, every lick; pure manna from heaven.
Songs like “I Got Your Number’, the AORsish ‘The Look In Your Eye’ (my favorite and a true classic), ‘Beg, Borrow Or Steal’, ‘Where Did The Time Go’, ‘Hold Out Your Life’, ‘Who Will You Run To’, ‘Coast To Coast’, just to name some, are timeless classy Melodic Hard Rock songs.
“Hughes / Thrall” is a magnificent Melodic Hard Rock record.
Every song is special, musicianship top notch – Quiet Riot’s Frankie Banali recorded most the drums – and production is simply brilliant.
Hughes remembers it as it was yesterday: “When we put Hughes / Thrall together, we immediately had this great sound. As a trio we sounded huge.
Pat had his synthesizer guitar back then, and we had this amazing depth to pull from. We wrote a lot of material too and we were in pre-production for maybe six months before we went into the studio”.
Hughes remarks; “I have lost count of the many people (and musicians!) who have put this LP at the top of their playlist. I am very proud of this project. There is a definite vibe on this gem”.
One thing is for sure: there was a certain chemistry between Hughes and Thrall that drove them to incredible heights.
Back in the day, “Hughes / Thrall” went quite unnoticed in America, but it was big in Japan & Europe becoming a classic in Melodic Hard Rock circles.
A Must Have
1982 RELEASE ON EPIC Uk pressing EPC25052.
1-I GOT YOUR NUMBER
2-THE LOOK IN YOUR EYE
3-BEG,BORROW OR STEAL
4-WHERE DID THE TIME GO
5-MUSCLE AND BLOOD
1-HOLD OUT YOUR LIFE
2-WHO WILL YOU RUN TO
3-COAST TO COAST
4-FIRST STEP OF LOVE
Often cited by musos as a favourite album, ‘Hughes/Thrall’ was released in 1982. By all accounts Glenn Hughes (bass and vocals in MK III and IV Deep Purple) ‘stole’ guitarist Pat Thrall after seeing him play with Pat Travers when that band opened for Def Leppard.
Pat Thrall’s jazz rock approach had been honed when playing in ‘Go’ an experimental fusion outfit featuring Stomu Yamahsa and Steve Winwood, and Michael Shrieve whom he subsequently joined in Automatic Man. Thrall featured on five Travers albums including the live ‘Go For What You Know’ in 1979.
With Hughes suffering from addiction and alcohol abuse, this album was never really going to happen and the duo never toured to promote it.
The album is a mixture of the hard rock and funk styles so beloved of Hughes and a fusion texture from Thrall. The standouts include ‘Hold Out Your Life’ and ‘Coast To Coast’.
In spite of a reunion of sorts in 1987 when they recorded a track for the ‘Dragnet’ movie, Hughes and Thrall went their separate ways, with Thrall pursuing session work and appearing with Meat Loaf.
“It formed the template for much of the 80s hard rock scene. Solid bass and outstanding guitar, coupled with keyboards and polished production; you only have to listen to opener ‘I Got Your Number’ to realise how enjoyable and essential the whole album is.”
When I asked Glenn Hughes about the album in a 2006 interview he told me: “It’s a musicians’ record, every musician I know seems to have it in their collection”.
Was he disappointed that the album was not more successful than it was?
“It didn’t do well for two reasons: first, sex, drugs and rock n roll again – I wasn’t well enough in the eighties to tour – and secondly, Pat and I were also going in very different musical directions. He wanted to go more fusion on the next Hughes/Thrall record and I wanted it to be more straight down the middle rock and funk.”
Once described as a “”marriage made in hard rock heaven,”” Hughes/Thrall paired the legendary talents of English vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes (ex-Trapeze and Deep Purple, aka “”the Voice of Rock””) and American guitarist Pat Thrall (formerly with Automatic Man and Pat Travers’ band). The latter had slowly made a name for himself in both hard rock and fusion circles (having briefly worked with Al di Meola among others) but had yet to capitalize on his burgeoning fame, come the early ’80s; while the former had managed a perfunctory solo album shortly after the disintegration of Deep Purple, but otherwise spent the previous five years mired in a mixture of drugs, lack of inertia, and grief over the heroin-related death of former running mate Tommy Bolin. In fact, it has been argued that it was partly Hughes’ nostalgia for the supremely talented but doomed Bolin effortless dabbling in rock, jazz, blues, and beyond that sparked his interest in working with the similarly versatile Thrall. Thus was born Hughes/Thrall in late 1981, and months of rehearsal, songwriting, and all around woodshedding followed in Los Angeles, where the duo eventually began recording an eponymous album with heavyweight producer Andy Johns (Led Zeppelin, Free, etc.), keyboard player Peter Schless, and a variety of drummers including Gary Ferguson, Gary Mallaber, and Frankie Banali (future Quiet Riot). Ironically, all of this adventurous musical pedigree somehow translated into a remarkably safe-sounding, commercial AOR album, clearly aimed to appease American radio stations, and released with little fanfare by a short-lived Epic subsidiary named Boulevard Records. Hughes/Thrall did film two promo videos (for singles “”I Got Your Number”” and “”The Look in Your Eye””)
In rocking retrospect no one should’ve been surprised when the debut and so far only album from Glenn Hughes and Pat Thrall turned out to be such a consummate release. The shrewdly titled, and supremely crafted, Hughes/Thrall was, and remains, a prime example of if you’ll pardon the variation on a theme Heroic/Teamwork.
Even today, many people most notably musicians speak about Hughes/Thrall in hushed, reverential, we re-not-worthy tones. That this tremendous record never enjoyed the success it deserved first time around is completely inexplicable. Or is it? You better read on:
Making Hughes/Thrall was to prove an inspirational, not to say spiritually uplifting, experience for both bassist/vocalist Hughes and guitarist Thrall. But for the former in particular, it was also a cathartic exercise after a lengthy time spent in kicking his dusty heels in the backwoods of the Los Angeles music scene.
“I had been bored to death for five years”, Hughes affirms today. “So, yes, thank God the formation of Hughes/Thrall came about.
Since the 1976 demise of the Mk IV version of Deep Purple and also the tragic death of Hughes’s buddy and soulmate in the Purple, guitarist Tommy Bolin , Glenn had been biding his time. Or something like that, anyway.
When Tommy died it was difficult for me, says the Cannock, Staffordshire-born Hughes. I was still in my dark period. From March or April 1976 when Purple broke up, to August 1981 when Hughes/Thrall began to take shape, I was definitely just hanging out rather than working. That five-year period I hate to use the word hiatus, but that’s what it was. I wasn’t interested in doing very much at all.
Immediately post-Purple, Hughes had released a masterful solo album, Play Me Out. Away from the pressures of DP, Glenn gave himself free rein to wallow in his two great loves besides rock n roll music: sensual, slinky funk and smooth, blue-eyed soul.
But then Hughes fell firmly off the radar. One of his first attempts at a comeback revolved around a super-group comprising himself, fusion guitarist Ray Gomez and R&B/soul star Narada Michael Walden. The trio was supposed to sign with Atlantic Records but Gomez opted for a solo deal with Columbia instead. (Nevertheless, Hughes continued to work on and off with Gomez, while keeping his options open.)
I had Play Me Out which came out in Europe but not in the US, at least not initially, Hughes recalls. Besides the so-called supergoup you mention, me and Gary Moore tried to do an album with [Elf, Thin Lizzy and Ian Gillan Band drummer] Mark Nauseef, called G-Force. But that was aborted in 1980 for numerous reasons. Sharon [Osbourne] was managing us.
That he once claimed to have fired himself from G-Force on his birthday, no less says a lot about Hughes’ state of mind at the time. Moore’s new outfit continued on without him, recording a single album for Jet Records, but with false starts aplenty it really did seem as if Glenn’s career was going nowhere fast.
Thankfully, a hot guitarist called Pat Thrall was waiting in the wings. But how exactly did he manage to hook up with Hughes?
I was aware of Glenn from Purple, but the first time I really heard him was when I was hanging with Pat Travers and he put on the Play Me Out album. Travers plays on it; he was very proud to be a part of Glennâs record. I was hugely impressed by Play Me Out. At that point I thought: Great, I’m starting out with Travers now, but at some point I know I’m going to be playing with Glenn Hughes.
Hughes was similarly impressed by Thrall. At the beginning of the 80s I went to see Def Leppard open for Pat Travers at the Santa Monica Civic. It was Travers together with Mars Cowling [bass], Tommy Aldridge [drums] and Pat Thrall. And I saw first-hand what Travers was talking about when he told me: You’ve got to see my new guitar player, Pat Thrall. The two were sharing lead guitar duties. Immediately after the show I said to Pat Thrall: Do you want to form a band with me? Because I just loved what he was doing.
Thrall, however, remembers the events leading up to the formation of Hughes/Thrall a little differently: After I left Travers’s band I got in touch with Glenn to see what he was doing and he said: I’ve already got something going with Ray Gomez. So I went up to the San Francisco Bay Area, where my family is and where I grew up, and I started a band with my brother.
â€œAbout four months later I got a call from Foreignerâs manager, Bud Prager. He said he was concerned because it wasnât working out with Glenn and Gomez. Apparently Prager had invested a lot of his own money into the project and it wasnât going anywhere. Prager knew Glenn had expressed an interest in working with me, but I thought his [Pragerâs] approach was kind of disrespectful. He wanted me to haul my ass down to LA, and spend a lot of my own money on rehearsal studios, demos and suchlike. Prager implied that, in the unlikely event of things working out between me and Glenn, if I was lucky he might take us on.
â€œBut all I cared about was playing with Glenn, so I moved to LA and we began working together regardless. Eventually Prager came into town, and when he heard what we were doing he flipped out and wanted to sign us. But I wasnât so sure because of his attitude, and because of the way heâd approached me initially. So Glenn and I decided not to get involved with Prager, although obviously he did play a role in bringing us together.â€
Hughes, for his part, didnât see any problem in linking up with a guitarist who, prior to his time spent with Pat Travers, had gained a rather eclectic, left-field reputation as a player. â€œI enjoy things that are totally out of the box â€“ particularly after the experience of playing with Tommy [Bolin], which was total fusion in some respects. Iâve always wanted to work with people whoâre a little on the edge, a little different. When we put Hughes/Thrall together we immediately had all these amazing signatures and this great sound. As a trio [drums being supplied by a varying cast including Gary Ferguson, Gary Mallaber, Peter Schless and Frankie Banali] we sounded huge. Pat had his synthesiser guitar back then, and we had this amazing depth to pull from. We wrote a lot of material. We were in pre-production for maybe six months before we went into the studio.â€
Hughes has since described Thrall as â€œthe best guitarist Iâve worked with in my entire careerâ€.
â€œThatâs a huge compliment considering all the guys heâs played with â€“ thatâs wonderful,â€ Thrall says. â€œBut Glenn and I have a natural chemistry. When we get into a room and start playing, we just click. Thatâs the bizarre thing. So itâs really easy for us to make music together. You canât force that to happen, itâs either there or itâs not, and Glenn and I just have that thing.â€
Hughes agrees: â€œWhen we strap on our guitars and stand toe-to-toe in the studio thereâs an instant vibe. Itâs just there. Itâs wonderful. Weâre like a force of nature.â€ A Hurricane/Tornado, if you likeâ€¦
But despite the storming new music being generated by Glenn and Pat, Hughes/Thrall does contain one cover version: Coast To Coast, which was originally recorded by Hughesâs pre-Deep Purple band, Trapeze, on their 1972 album You Are The Musicâ€¦ Weâre Just The Band.
Hughes: â€œI wanted to give it another stab â€“ itâs such a great song. We thought Hughes/Thrall were going to have a lot of success Stateside and I wanted Coast To Coast to get some airplay over there. Most people donât know it was a Trapeze song; most think of it as a Hughes/Thrall track.â€
Thrall: â€œGlenn had cut a version when he was with Ray Gomez and thatâs what I had been listening to. Gomez is a fantastic guitar player; heâs one of my favourites. The solo I take on Coast To Coast is note-for-note what Gomezâs solo was on the demo with Glenn. Itâs actually more of a melody than a solo. I thought: â€˜Iâm just going to pay homage to Ray on this.â So I was more familiar with the Gomez version than the original Trapeze one. But then, of course, Glenn and me did our own thing as well â€“ all the arpeggiated guitars and the rhythmic coloursâ€¦ all that stuff. But Gomezâs solo was perfect â€“ how are you going to beat perfection?â€
The producer on Hughes/Thrall was initially Rob Fraboni. But it didnât work out.
Thrall: â€œRob worked on Hughes/Thrall in the evening and into the night, but during the day he was producing Bonnie Raittâs album Green Light. Heâs more oriented toward that kind of music. Weâd done probably four songs with Rob when we realised we needed to get a bigger sound. So we brought in Andy Johns, because of Led Zeppelin and all the stuff heâd done. You can definitely hear that bigger sound â€“ particularly with the drums â€“ on tracks such as Muscle & Blood and I Got Your Number. So thatâs why we made the change. It was an education working with Andy because of his history â€“ heâs a star in his own right, basically.â€
Hughes expands: â€œI really wanted Andy because of the work heâd done with Free, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, of course. Andyâs a wild card, a six-foot-four Brit in California. He wears a cowboy hat, has been known to carry guns from time to time, and he was larger than life. He still is. He was massive character in the studio. He was great at fixing the stewâ€¦ although heâd probably call it making the sauce!
â€œAndy was very good at combining Pat and meâs vibe together. The groove was very important to Andy, that great groove that carries on through the record, from Muscle & Blood to Beg Borrow Or Steal, to First Step Of Love. All those songs have got great grooves to them. That still survives today.â€
There was no great falling-out when Fraboni was replaced by Johns, as Thrall explains: â€œNo, not at all. It was exciting and the whole thing needed to be invigorated anyway, because Rob and us werenât quite the perfect match, production-wise. Iâve worked with Rob since â€“ I played on a Phoebe Snow album that he produced â€“ but his approach wasnât fitting in with what Glenn and I envisioned Hughes/Thrall to be. So when Andy came in it was a shot in the arm for us â€“ and you can certainly hear it on the record.
â€œWe did overdubs with Andy on the tracks we did with Rob [which included Coast To Coast and First Step Of Love]. And then of course Andy mixed the whole record. Although I have to say itâs a little bit small and reverb-y for my tastes in this day and age. Iâd give anything to be able to remix it, but unfortunately the master tapes were stored at the studio in Los Angeles [United Western Studios]. The ownership of the studio changed hands and any tape in the library that hadnât been claimed was erased and used for bulk tape. Thatâs what happened to Hughes/Thrall. Itâs horrible. We donât have the multi-track masters any more. Glenn and I were pretty devastated when we found out.â€
Hughes/Thrall was released on the little-known Boulevard Records, a subsidiary of Epic. How did that happen?
Hughes: â€œWe were one of the first artists to sign for Boulevard â€“ we may have been the only artist, in fact. We could have gone with Atlantic, we had three or four offers, but we chose this company.â€
Thrall elaborates: â€œThe reason we went with them [Boulevard was run by Dennis Lavinthal and Lenny Beer] was that they were two of the biggest independent record promoters in the US at the time. The labels would pay these guys upwards of $100,000 to get radio play. So Epic said: â€˜Since weâre paying this much to you guys to do that, weâll give you a couple of hundred thousand more and you can go sign some new acts.â
â€œWith Dennis and Lennyâs juice at radio, Epic reckoned it should be pretty much a slam-dunk for acts signed to Boulevard Records. So thatâs why me and Glenn decided to go with them, because they had such good connections with radio. Plus they were a small company so we felt like weâd get a lot of attention.â€
But despite the reputation of the two prime-movers behind Boulevard, the Hughes/Thrall album struggled to get off the blocks. It wasnât exactly Hot/To trotâ€¦
Thrall: â€œIt happens, you know. It happens with films â€“ classic films like Disneyâs Fantasia, when that first came out, failed. Eventually the Hughes/Thrall record really connected with musicians â€“ but not, unfortunately, with the public at large. At least not initially. A lot of musicians got into it; it was like an early template for some of the other music that happened in the 80s. We were mixing some pop elements in with rock sensibilities, but in a way that no one had quite done before.â€
Hughes: â€œMost of my friends in the music industry talk about Hughes/Thrall more than any of my other records. And thatâs right across the board â€“ from black artists, to jazz artists, to rockers, they all love the album.â€
Posthumously, however, Hughes/Thrall has come to be regarded as one of the â€“ if not the â€“ finest releases of Glenn Hughesâs career. â€œThatâs because Pat is the perfect partner for me,â€ Hughes reiterates. â€œHe understands all the genres of Glenn Hughesâs music, whether it be rock, funk, soul, jazz, pop, even reggae â€“ all those elements are very evident in Hughes/Thrall.â€
However, both Hughes and Thrall recognise the roles they played â€“ or, crucially, didnât play â€“ in their albumâs relative failure first time around.
Hughes: â€œIt was probably down to Pat and Iâ€¦ not focusing. We did an abortive tour of America [with Tommy Aldridge on drums and Jesse Harms on keyboards] opening for Santana and, you know, we werenât in the best of shape back thenâ€¦ and we shouldâve really have been. The record company probably saw that, and we didnât get to tour much afterward. And thatâs when we started to fall to pieces, if you will.
â€œIf Pat and I had been really on the money Iâve no doubt weâdâve gone on to huge success with Hughes/Thrall. If weâdâve been teetotalers â€“ as I am now, and have been for many years â€“ with no drinking, no drugging, no anything, it wouldâve been different.â€
Thrall agrees: â€œWe did a few dates with Santana. But Glenn and I werenât really ready for touring at that point. That was basically the problem. I think there was a little too much drug influence in those days. We really didnât have it quite together for touring. And the bill wasnât necessarily a great match musicallyâ€¦ the audience, of course, was primarily there for Santana. We did a couple of club dates on our own in Los Angeles and that was about it. For whatever reason the record wasnât going at radio and the label pulled the plug pretty quickly on it.â€
Nevertheless, the promo photos that accompanied the release of Hughes/Thrall in 1982 showed the duo not as raddled rockers, but as remarkably healthy and fresh-faced individuals â€“ even though they also looked like cheesy extras out of the soap opera, Dynasty.
Thrall laughs: â€œThose pictures were very much of their time. I guess we were trying to look as good as we could, but believe me we were not living a very healthy lifestyle.â€
Hughes: â€œI was really healthy when we started the Hughes/Thrall project and I lost a lot of weight; I was very California-looking. But unfortunately it didnât lastâ€¦â€
Thrall isnât a big fan of the albumâs cover, either. â€œItâs one of the worst in the history of rock,â€ he laughs again. â€œThey gave us two choices. The other choice was a scantily clad woman riding on the back of a dinosaur. They said: â€˜Which do you want, the masks or the dinosaur?â We said: â€˜I guess weâre going have to go with the stoopid masks.â If you ever saw the video for The Look In Your Eye â€“ ha-ha! â€“ the director had everyone holding up those damn masks. Itâs awful.â€
Hughes/Thrall stumbled on for a while, and fans of walrus-moustached keyboard players will be delighted to know that the semi-legendary Claude Schnell (of Dio fame) was part of their line-up toward the bitter end.
Hughes: â€œClaude was in the band when we started to make demos for the second record. But we never really completed them; we were sort of falling apart. We were also working with Tommy Bolinâs old drummer, Mark Craney. He passed away from diabetes and kidney failure, poor fella. But I like Claude, heâs sort of a Jon Lord type of character.â€
These days, Glenn Hughes is philosophical about what might have been: â€œHughes/Thrall had a short life span. It was extremely short! But Iâm glad that weâre embracing the record again now,â€ he says enthusiastically.
Happy/Times are here again!”