These past few days I've been spinning the debut Phenomena album on my way to and from work. It was one of the first albums I ever heard Glenn sing on (no comments necessary from the geezer contingent...), and it remains among his finest moments.
I remember reading Kerrang magazine when I could get my hands on it, years ago when I lived in Illinois. The album reviews, photos and musicians featured in the magazine were a mix of international superstars and more intriguing artists whose careers seemed rooted firmly in the UK. One of the great features I remember reading was a Glenn Hughes/Tom Galley cover story about the Phenomena project. It sounded so intriguing, and being a fan of science fiction and song titles and conceptual illustrations aroused my interest. When I finally got a chance to hear the album I was floored. Glenn's voice was amazing, even more so than what I'd heard him sing with Gary Moore. The production was immense, awash in reverb and drenched in keyboard heaven. In the years since, I've come to acknowledge the album's production shortcomings, but they barely put a dent in my ironclad conviction that Phenomena is a breathtaking concept album. Listen to Glenn soar on "Kiss of Fire"...the vocal crescendo in "Dance with the Devil"...his effortless, heartfelt delivery of "Phoenix Rising"...the drive of "Believe", and its soprano vocal breakdown...the urgent swagger of "Who's Watching You". Great stuff, all of it. The bonus tracks are entertaining enough, although they don't maintain the feel of the rest of the album. Perhaps that's why they were originally excluded.
I remember reading years ago a somewhat disappointed review of 'Phenomena', which compared the final album mix to the original album demos, which were apparently more guitar heavy, and less keyboard intensive. I've always been intrigued to hear those mixes. In the meantime, I'm perfectly content with the near-perfect content of 'Phenomena'...a feather in the cap of all involved.
And how could I forget all those great folks involved?
Glenn Hughes (Trapeze/Deep Purple/Gary Moore), Cozy Powell (Michael Schenker Group/Rainbow), Ted McKenna (Rory Gallagher/Michael Schenker Group), Neil Murray (Whitesnake), Mel Galley (Trapeze/Whitesnake), John Thomas (Budgie), Don Airey (Ozzy/Rainbow) and Richard Bailey (Magnum/Alaska).