Hughes/Thrall: Hughes/Thrall - Album Of The Week Club review

In which Former Deep Purple bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes and guitarist Pat Thrall kick up a short-lived AOR storm

Hughes/Thrall cover art
(Image: © Boulevard Records)

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Hughes/Thrall: Hughes/Thrall

Hughes/Thrall cover art

(Image credit: Boulevard Records)

I Got Your Number
The Look in Your Eye
Beg, Borrow or Steal
Where Did the Time Go
Muscle and Blood
Hold Out Your Life
Who Will You Run To
Coast to Coast
First Step of Love

Former Deep Purple bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes and guitarist Pat Thrall kicked up a short-lived storm when they released this, their debut (and so far only) album in 1982. 

Hughes’s searing, soulful vocals were well to the fore and Thrall (who came from a jazz-fusion background by way of The Pat Travers Band) contributes some suitably twisted licks. But the killer punch comes from producer Andy (Free, Stones, Zeppelin) Johns who conjures up a vibe that’s simultaneously glossy, gritty and groove-laden.

Highlights include the super-slinky strut of Beg, Borrow Or Steal, complete with pulsing Toto-esque keyboards; the exhilarating I Got Your Number; the mighty Muscle & Blood, which is the closest the duo come to a straightforward, all-out rocker; and an affectionate version of Coast To Coast, which Hughes originally recorded with his pre-Purple band, Trapeze. 

The Hughes/Thrall album still sounds crisp – a rarity for an album recorded 40 years ago. Given the strength of the songwriting, it could have been made on a wax cylinder and it would still have had the power to startle. It’s a heady debut, and you never know, it might not be their swansong. Glenn says it won't happen, but there's still time. 

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Other albums released in August 1982

  • Art of Control - Peter Frampton
  • I Can't Stand Still - Don Henley
  • Chronic Town - R.E.M.
  • Zipper Catches Skin - Alice Cooper
  • Bad To The Bone – George Thorogood & the Destroyers
  • The Cage - Tygers of Pan Tang
  • Fiction - The Comsat Angels
  • If That's What It Takes - Michael McDonald
  • Music For A New Society - John Cale
  • Rock In A Hard Place - Aerosmith
  • Rough Diamonds - Bad Company
  • Shango - Santana
  • Talking Back to the Night - Steve Winwood
  • The Unexpected Guest - Demon


What they said...

"Much of this sound may in fact trace its origin to Queen and Rush, but listening to Hughes/Thrall in its historical context places it firmly in the same territory in which Billy Idol was to have so much success. The performances by the two leaders are fantastic. Hughes' voice and bass playing are in fine form, and Thrall exhibits a healthy dose of Allan Holdsworth in his playing." (AllMusic)

"Hughes/Thrall is a pretty decent record, especially the cuts I Got Your Number and The Look in Your Eye. But it’s not so much the record as the band itself that I’m excited about. Once these two feel each other out and get a sound of their own, it’s going to be dynamite." (The Georgia Strait)

"The sound is a very light brand of hard rock/AOR. The track Coast To Coast showcases the lighter side, while First Step Of Love rocks fairly hard. Fans of these two expecting a metal album will be disappointed. This duo knows how to rock, but unfortunately don’t show it here. At best, Hughes/Thrall receives one thumb up. (Sleaze Roxx)


What you said...

Gary Claydon: I bought Hughes/Thrall at the time of release as much out of curiosity as anything. Given the circumstances surrounding the participants, especially Hughes, I think I was expecting a bit of a car-crash, despite the obvious talents of both. I remember being pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Not good enough, though, to be a regular visitor to my turntable down the years. 

There was plenty to enjoy, particularly in Hughes' vocals (unsurprisingly) and it had enough of a hard-rock edge and enough of a groove about it to avoid being run-of-the-mill AOR. Trouble was, there were no stand-out tracks, nothing to really drag me back with any great frequency.

Forty years on and I don't think Hughes/Thrall has aged all that well. It's not a bad album, the central performances pleasingly done but it's a bit keyboard/guitar synth heavy and the production is, like a lot of early 80s stuff, a bit too bright. I have a copy of the Rock Candy remaster from a few years ago which has a couple of decent bonus tracks but I have always preferred the sound of the original vinyl to any digital versions.

I've enjoyed revisiting Hughes/Thrall this week but it comes in at a solid 6/10 for me - decent but nothing outstanding.

Alex Hayes: Well, now that I've acquainted myself with the album, I have to say that Hughes/Thrall doesn't live up to it's 'forgotten classic' status. It's a fair listen, even slightly ahead of it's time in certain areas, but it really didn't connect with me in any kind of profound way. If I needed to sum the album up in one word, it would be 'competent'.

There's been a lot of talk about the album's heavily synth-based production, and how 'tied to the 80s' the album sounds. Although I agree with those sentiments in the main, I do think that Hughes/Thrall deserves some credit for being slightly ahead of the curve, certainly for as early as 1982. 

There really weren't many albums as slick sounding as this at that particular time (they actually came later). It's an album that puts me in mind of mid-to-late 80's Foreigner, or, as has been correctly already pointed out, Michael Bolton's Everybody's Crazy (a maligned Classic Rock Album Of The Week Club pick from last year).

When placed into that context, I'd rank Hughes/Thrall as second rate when compared to the former, but definitely superior to the latter, which it manages to predate by three years. Irrespective of personal rankings, for 1982, this was pretty state of the art stuff, and much imitated in subsequent years.

Glenn Hughes is in fine form here, as is to be expected. This was my first exposure to the talents of Pat Thrall though. When given enough space within the music, he acquits himself well. I love his solo towards the end of Hold Out Your Life, for example, where Thrall really lets rip. Unfortunately, Thrall's guitar work is too often buried under those layers of synths for me.

It's fair to say that 1982 will never go down in history as one of rock's finest ever years, a certain Iron Maiden album aside. One of the biggest releases of that year, over in the US at least, was Asia's debut, another album that Hughes/Thrall can be easily held up and compared to. You can see why one of those albums sold millions, and the other didn't. There is nothing on Hughes/Thrall that was ever gonna triumph over Heat Of The Moment on the airwaves that year.

I'm glad I've finally caught up with Hughes/Thrall. It really isn't bad, just nothing like the overlooked diamond of rock music mythos that some claim it to be. That's just hyperbole, another one-word descriptor that I could have used. Decent stuff, nothing more.

Kaa Gee Walsh: I was aware of this album back when it was released. I picked up a copy within a year, in a delete bin. It was played a couple of times but I didn't really like it as a whole. There is a couple of good tracks that rock harder than most of the album.

Chris Elliott: Two old men jump on every 80's bandwagon to pay the coke bills. God it's dull.

John Edgar: 1982 wasn't the greatest year for rock. A lot of 70's rock giants were fading away, and those that weren't were releasing some real duds. Adding insult to injury, the MTV-driven pop bands were beginning to make a big impact. But this little diamond dropped in at the end of the summer and truly rocked me. 

I always thought it should have made a bigger impact, and why it didn't has always baffled me. Every single person I exposed to this release really liked it, so I know it had appeal. Possibly there weren't enough people out there in the mass audience that knew who Glenn Hughes or Pat Thrall were? 

Of course, us rock'n'roll deep divers who bought this album definitely did know who they were. We were those Burn, Stormbringer, Come Taste The Band Glenn Hughes fans. Those same fans that played the hell outta the Heat In The Street, Live!, Crash And Burn and Radioactive Pat Travers classics which all featured Pat Thrall. 

For me, Hughes/Thrall was a perfect blending of those two rock n roll flavours that I loved so much. As far as the songs are concerned, I Got Your Number and Muscle And Blood are the cornerstones that hold this whole rock n roll house together. For me, the Hughes/Thrall album represents 36 minutes and 43 seconds of some of the best rock that 1982 had to offer. (On a side note; 1982 also gave us the Pat Travers Black Pearl album. If you've never listened to that one, then you are truly missing out.)

Evan Sanders: I had never heard of this album, so thank you to the group for making the Album Of The Week. After listening to it I must be revealing myself as part of the American audience who compares it to the Asia debut. Hughes/Thrall is a competent AOR album that should have received more airplay. But it's missing a strong standout track comparable to Asia's Heat Of The Moment. 7/10.

Gino Sigismondi: I picked up a used copy for $5 last year, mostly out of curiosity. I love pretty much everything Glenn has done, but this really leaves me flat - bland, unremarkable AOR. Too much synth, too much reverb, not enough rock. It definitely feels like a "this is what's selling now, so let's do this" project, but their contemporaries did it so much better. Muscle And Blood and First Step Of Love are the only two songs with enough "oomph" to make me want to give them another spin. When I'm in the mood for something like this, I'd take Rainbow's Down To Earth any day of the week!

Bill Griffin: I've always thought Hughes had a better reputation as a singer than was warranted and this does nothing to dispel that notion. Nonetheless, there are a few tracks here that work anyway, namely the two bonus tracks. It's not a bad record exactly but also nothing spectacular. Hovering around mediocrity, I guess. Sometimes rising above and sometimes dropping below. I won't be adding it to my collection.

Mike Canoe: Hughes/Thrall was hard for me to warm up to which surprised me since I am usually a soft touch for anything Glenn Hughes sings on. I would argue that this album has more in common with last year's controversial club pick, Everybody's Crazy by Michael Bolton, rather than anything Hughes did with other club picks Trapeze and MK IV Deep Purple.

The whole "eighties-ness" of the album sparks that comparison, especially, but not limited to, the abundance of keyboards. It's hard to blame keyboardist Peter Schless for being out in front so much because co-captain Pat Thrall seems MIA a lot of the time.

I always assumed that Pat Travers was the hotshot guitarist in the Pat Travers Band and this album doesn't really change my mind. Thrall seems to show up in the middle of the album on Muscle and Blood, Hold On Your Life, and Who Will You Run To, before fading into the background again.

Hughes' vocals are definitely the selling point for me. I especially like the high notes he hits in The Look In Your Eye and the bat$%@# crazy high notes he hits in First Step of Love.

Ultimately, not terrible but also not an album I'm likely to listen to often. It feels like time could be better spent with the Dead Daisies album from last year that has Glenn Hughes at full power.

Paul Murray: This is a great album - I 'rediscover' it every year or so and it gets played a lot.

Paul Cropper: It's a very, very good album. A solid 8 out of 10. A 'classic'? Not quite, but every AOR fan should have it in their collection.

Andrew Bramah: I bought this when it first came out. It's a superb album full of great songs played by top drawer musicians. The glassy production is very much of it's time which dates it. If they had managed to make a couple more albums of this standard and toured to follow them up the story could have been different. Unfortunately Hughes and Co were too out of it to keep together and vanished quickly. One of the best of the time but but nobody bought it.

Julian Preedy: Bought it when it came out, it's a good solid album, and Pat Thrall is an underrated player, but it's hard to think of a stand out track. Well worth a listen though.

Tim Day: Got it when it first came out and listened to many times since. I don't think there is a stand out track all the songs are great. You cannot play unless you listen to it all

Örjan Mjörnheden: Hughes and Thrall is a very classy album with great songs, standout singing and playing, and well produced. Personal favourite is Hold Out Your Life where the solo is superbly paced. In fact it s my all- time-best rock lead break, short and furious.

Keith Jenkin: Bought this when it came out on the back of a rave review in Kerrang! ( or was it Sounds?), completely washed over me and I have revisited it a few times since, love most of Hughes`s stuff but this one still does nothing for me

Michael Ladd: It’s a very good album but the production isn’t the best.

Kurt Zanzi: Glenn Hughes is the voice of rock. His high note on the bridge of Burn live versions still gives me chills. Anything he does, and still does, is worth listening to. Give Dead Daisies a listen.

Graham Tarry: This is one of the finest rock funk albums ever. Got it on release in 82, and still turn up the songs extra loud when I hear them now. Nine songs, all great, with some off the scale. Muscle And Blood, Hold Out Your Life, First Steps Of Love... air guitar at our weekly 80s rock club was guaranteed! The effects that Pat Thrall used were sublime, and Glenn Hughes’ bass and vocals are the icing on the cake. Every rock fan has to hear this.!

Andy J Old: A fab album! One of solo Glenn’s best, imho. An underrated gem.

Leonard Hoggan: Brilliant album. I Got Your Number, Muscle And Blood, Coast To Coast etc. - great stuff! Still play it every now and again.

Greg Schwepe: So here’s an album I knew existed, but took me 30 years to listen to it. Good things come to those who wait.

The perks of being a DJ in the 80s at our little 10 watt alternative college radio station was having access to a whole library of albums to check out. During one show I was rooting around the “H” section and stumbled upon Hughes/Thrall. “Oh, that’s Pat Thrall from Pat Travers Band.” Having owned two Travers albums and seeing them open for AC/DC. And at that time I knew Glenn Hughes as “some guy that was in Deep Purple.” Based on what I heard on the radio, I was pretty sure Machine Head was the only Purple album that existed.

Now, onto the review! Not going to lie, the very keyboard heavy sounds of the first three or four songs was not was I was expecting. This is not a bad thing as I like the songs. But now knowing more about Glenn Hughes catalogue and Pat Thrall’s style…a big surprise, but a good one.

Then we get to Muscle And Blood, the first all-out rocker on the album. Now we’re talking. This is what I was expecting from the get go. Mr. Thrall begins to shred.

Coast To Coast is a nice vehicle for Hughes' voice along with some atmospheric guitar. The closer First Step Of Love get some good screams from Glenn and rocking Thrall guitar. A decent 80s rock album from two guys who were not household names.


Final score: 7.24 (50 votes cast, total score 362)

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