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Glenn Hughes: The Autobiography Paperback – 11 Nov 2011
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About the Author
Vocalist, bass guitarist and songwriter Glenn Hughes is a true original. No other rock musician has carved such a distinctive style blending the finest elements of hard rock, soul and funk. Stevie Wonder once called Hughes his favourite white singer. First breaking through in the early 70s with Trapeze, Hughes subsequently joined Deep Purple, and has since collaborated with Tommy Iommi, the KLF and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, alongside regular solo projects. In 2010 Glenn formed the acclaimed Black Country Communion. This is his first book. Joel McIver is the author of many books on rock music, including a bestselling biography of Metallica and books about Slayer, Black Sabbath and Queens Of The Stone Age. His 2009 biography of the late Metallica bassist Cliff Burton (To Live Is To Die: The Life And Death Of Cliff Burton) was nominated as the music book of the year by several reviewers. McIver also contributes to music and film magazines such as Rolling Stone and Classic Rock.
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You would have thought that reading a Rock autobiography would have given you a deeper insight into the inspiration and ideas behind how your favourite songs and albums were crafted. However, this never really happens as your are given a tourist's tour of the subject. Instead, whilst learning more about the artist's personal life, you unexpectedly become a hard core drug nomenclature expert!
Glenn's book is no exception to the rule. Without ever glorifying the monkey nobody wants on their backs, a significant amount of chapters is devoted to the use and abuse of ubiquitous illegal substances, so much that the reader feels that he is being reluctantly dragged across a desert with a disease for a companion. How is it possible for a singer of Glenn's stature and versatility to allow himself to waste his God given talent in this way? Why is it that in their spare time creative people stumble onto a path of self destruction instead of harnessing that energy into the practice of various positive non music related activities?
Glenn's autobiography however manages to stand out on the bookshelves in that it is clear from the outset that a lot of thought has gone into the planning and the layout of the book. The first thing that dawns on the reader is how effortlessly the story flows. The reader is enraptured in Glenn's words from the very first paragraph and only exits his world at the end of the book.
The unique feature of the book is the pertinent recollections by relevant parties, which intersperse Glenn's to give the proceedings an air of authenticity without losing focus.
A considerable portion of the early chapters is devoted to Glenn's time with Deep Purple. Of particular interest to music aficionados is the song-by-song analysis of the three Deep Purple albums he was involved in. This analytical delight is unfortunately exclusive to the Deep Purple albums. This treatment is not bestowed on either the Trapeze or solo albums. Some of the solo albums (L.A. Blues Authority) only get a one sentence mention whilst other albums are completely ignored! Sacrilege!
One might proffer that armies of words have been devoted to the music on the Web and in the specialised press. However, hearing about Glenn's music in his own words would still be valid and valuable. Glenn's struggle with drugs has been a major part of his life and one can appreciate why so many chapters have been marshaled into it. However, the gravity of the issue could still have been condensed into fewer chapters without losing the impact on the reader; and re-deploying those resources towards acknowledging the solo albums in some detail.
The reader is however compensated for this shortcoming with an extensive appendix documenting every single project Glenn has been involved in up to the date the book was published.
After all has been said, Glenn was, is and remains a monumental singer. Only a select few can sing Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Blues, Soul and Funk so effortlessly and touch the listener on a spiritual level. Despite its shortcomings, The Autobiography is still a good read . But a second book from Glenn, focusing exclusively on exploring his vast back catalog, with a song-by-song treatment would not go amiss.
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