TEN – Here Be Monsters

Ever since their arrival on the melodic rock scene in the 90s, Ten have always been synonymous with making “big” sounds. With its combination of huge vocals, even bigger guitar sounds and a genuine sense of grandeur, their self titled debut quickly asserted itself as one of the classics of the era, and the musical marriage between Gary Hughes (vocals) and ex-Dare guitarist Vinny Burns proved to be an ambitious, yet very natural union. Their third album, ‘The Robe’ , a concept album centring around Egyptian mythology, set the bar even higher in terms of ambition, and for a time, it seemed like a recording the band would never top. Nevertheless, they trucked on, and their ever fluctuating line-up (which at one point included Kent based talent Chris Francis filling Vinny’s huge musical shoes) continued to record distinctive, bombastic albums that thrilled fans across Europe.

Continue reading

GARY HUGHES – Waterside

Although he’d already released a solo album in 1989, it wasn’t until a follow up disc appeared three years later that Gary Hughes first gained major attention from the melodic rock world. 1992’s ‘Gary Hughes’ helped kick start the short lived (and much loved) Now & Then label and marked Hughes as a man with a great voice. Whether tackling rockers or ballads, he displayed a very natural talent, but it was when he later became frontman for bombastic rockers Ten – a band whom always aimed for a big sound and then made it bigger – his true range as a vocalist could really be heard. Whether a musical partner for Vinny Burns (on the band’s classic ‘Name of The Rose’) or Chris Francis (on 2004’s underrated ‘Return To Evermore’), Hughes has always put in a great performance.

‘Waterside’ comes some fourteen years after his previous solo recording and marks a return to the more sedate side of his work that fans have come to expect outside of Ten. Its collection of melodic tracks come loaded with big choruses and a few smart lead guitar breaks (all courtesy of Dann Rosingana) and that alone will be enough to win fans over. Unfortunately – as has been the case with several Frontiers Records releases throughout the years – it sounds…unbelievably cheap. Hughes offers some great vocal performances throughout and the guitars are crisp, but some great material is often let down by a general lack of warmth, some absolutely abysmal keyboard playing and a non-existent drum sound. With Darrel Treece-Birch credited as playing both keys and drums, a lot of things point towards the use of a drum program. Even if some of the drums are live, a really thin sound really comes at the expense of what, for Hughes – something of a British AOR legend – should have been a triumphant return. With that in mind, huge chunks of ‘Waterside’ sound almost like polished demos; songs awaiting their final bells and whistles. Hughes’s work deserves better than such an obvious “that’ll do” approach.

Continue reading

UK AOR legend Gary Hughes to release double disc solo anthology in March

Since the early 90s, vocalist Gary Hughes has been one of the most important figures on the British melodic rock scene.  His second solo album helped launch the much missed Now & Then record label and his subsequent work as frontman with pomp rockers Ten has taken his big voice around the world.

Continue reading