When ‘Addiction’ was originally released in 1996, I wasn’t in much of a position to call myself a Glenn Hughes fan. As far as I was concerned, the Phenomena project felt like an all-chums-in-the-studio-waste of plastic and at that point his solo albums passed me by completely. However, I loved the Hughes/Thrall album and still do. Also, I’d always loved his work with Deep Purple between 1974-1976, so there was always hope for me liking more of his solo output.
Having heard his previous solo works, ‘From Now On…’ and ‘Feel’, I had a pre-conceived idea of what to expect when I first put ‘Addiction’ into the CD player. Those pre-conceptions were quickly blown away. The funky influence present throughout ‘Feel’ had gone and the melodic rock edges of ‘From Then On…’ had been toughened up considerably.
‘Addiction’ is heavy at the outset, with classic rock riffs. Some tracks are downtuned in a mid-nineties fashion; this partly helped Glenn’s sound to become slightly more contemporary, which, at the time, wasn’t to everyone’s liking. Personally, I loved these moments. They went a long way towards my finding ‘Addiction’ to be Glenn’s best work in a long while. Other more traditional melodic rock listeners said the heavier tracks were too downtuned, too grunge. I could never see the problem and was always confused as to why some of those people hated grunge so much, especially since about half of ’em loved early Black Sabbath.
Fast forward to many years later, ‘Addiction’ still sounds punchy and it’s far less grunge than some of those people claimed. ‘The Death of Me’ is solid 90s hard rock, starting things off in high-gear, with “The Voice” in good form; later in the album, ‘Madelaine’ also demonstrates some top-notch punchiness.
Slower tracks ‘Cover Me’ (almost like a really heavy Whitesnake number, but far enough removed from the bluesy edges of Hughes’s Purple work to avoid obvious comparison) and ‘Blue Jade’ allow Hughes to stretch out a little further. Every one of his vocal performances here are winners, even if the material doesn’t always work perfectly. The hard rock, blues edged ‘Justified Man’ and the soulful ‘Talk About It’ are both classic Hughes and likely to be tracks that his more unadventurous fans enjoy the most.
It’s with the title track and ‘Down’ though, things get rather heavier. Both feature solid riffs that lean toward the then-alternative rock sound. ‘Down’ in particular, sounds like some of the stuff from the Temple of The Dog album. In fact, there’s a few tracks here I’d like to hear Chris Cornell have a stab at.
‘Not Your Slave’ is a little lighter. With its solid slightly funky bassline, it could’ve easily been on Glenn’s previous albums. Closing the album, ‘I Don’t Want To Live That Way Again’ is a haunting, slow piece dealing with Glenn’s past and subsequent rehab. While a fitting end here, it’s never matched the hard rock moments for me.
Glenn deserves praise for releasing such a tough sounding album; it sounds as sharp as it did when it first came out. It was never going to win him any new fans though, despite the heavier approach. A great pity, since this and Dio’s similarly heavy ‘Angry Machines’ album (released at a similar time) could have been a surprise to those who’d assumed that such artistes had become an irrelevance in the 90s.
January 2010 (Some material originally written for Fastlane Magazine, late 1996)