It’s a case of history repeating itself, or possibly, history beginning long after it was meant to begin. You see, Glenn Hughes obviously gained worldwide recognition through Deep Purple. Deep Purple’s original lineup actually started after a previous attempt at a band called Roundabout fizzled. The concept would be that Roundabout would feature a number of stellar musicians that would rotate in and out over time, thus providing a fluid lineup. Though I can’t say for sure that hasn’t been done since, I’m unaware of any such established band in the hard rock world that has made that concept work. Now, after four albums, The Dead Daisies began another successful “roundabout,” this time replacing former Motley Crue vocalist John Corabi and bass player Marco Mendoza with Glenn Hughes, doing his vocals/bass double duty, and joining a somewhat established lineup of three other musicians who have held out since the last release.
I’ve come into listening to this band from a fresh perspective. Somehow, the previous several albums have eluded me even though I had intended to give them a chance. Now with one of my favorite vocalists of all time joining, I guess the timing was just right.
As the album kicks off I am immediately struck by the familiarity of the music. In no way am I saying this is just a retread of any other music, I’m saying it just *feels* right. Holy Ground is a perfect album opener which introduces our listener to the style of music they will experience throughout the album’s 11 tracks. Heavy, melodic, and some nuance got my hopes up that we wouldn’t see much diversion from these traits and by the second track I was pretty confident my prediction would come true. Like No Other (Bassline) added a bit more groove with a short bass intro. Speaking of nuance, that intro sounded imperfectly perfect. What I mean is that usually in the studio, bands will keep their volume at a more reasonable level to reduce static and buzz. It’s a good thing to do in most circumstances but here, they cranked it and kept it in which makes me feel like I’m just listening to a band jam and somebody hit record. I should clarify that the album otherwise sounds great, aside from some of the “loudness” which permeates modern recordings in the digital age, but a few moments of rawness is all it takes to get me fully on board.
Come Alive follows the previous tracks with a bit more groove. Having admitted to being unfamiliar with any other Dead Daisies releases, I can say that their fourth album reminds me a lot of the best of Glenn Hughes’s solo career which he has abandoned somewhat. Having only released one studio album in the last decade plus, I have to confess I was getting a bit tired of the “sameness” of some of Glenn’s work and given the lack of output, perhaps he has too. As he branched out to other bands such as Black Country Communion and California Breed, I think it gave him the shot in the arm he needed to escape the monotony of being his own boss, and kick his work up a few notches. So while much of Holy Ground sounds familiar, it does not sound the same.
As with Come Alive and the following song Bustle and Flow, we are treated to a bit of Deen Castronovo’s underrated drumming style. Having spent the better part of his career with Journey, I haven’t really followed his career since he was drumming for Ozzy Osbourne and bassist Geezer Butler’s solo project initially released under the offbeat moniker “g//z/r.” I had the opportunity to ask him about his time with the latter project and he expressed how much he missed playing heavy music. The Dead Daisies in no way matches the brutality of Butler’s album Plastic Planet but this certainly is a step away from the more mainstream rock dominating Deen’s career. Sadly, I kept waiting for him to go all out and I was left waiting. Though a few other moments allow him a brief chance to shine and he does get a chance to display his awesome vocal chords on a cover of Humble Pie’s 30 Days in the Hole. At least, I’m assuming that’s him.
Holy Ground marches on, delving into a bit more bluesy and heavy style while My Fate marches right back into a faster type of swagger. About this time I begin to wonder if the relative “familiarness” of the songs will continue throughout and I start to nitpick that while plenty of nuances abound, we’re missing a slow moody piece even if My Fate’s verses do moderately go in that direction. Seven tracks in and Saving Grace indicates that I may not get my wish but I’ve got no time to mope because we’re once again treated to another excellent song with a kickass riff that smacks us with a pretty rad groove.
David Lowry is not only the rhythm guitarist but also the band’s founder and only consistent member. I racked my brain to think of where I may have heard of him before to no avail. According to wikipedia he spent the majority of his life as a…shopping mall executive in Australia? Oh, and also an aerobatic pilot because why not? I might not be able to wrap my head around just how he transitioned to a rockstar surrounded by legends but the point is he did. Alongside him is former Dio and Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich. While he was not in either band during their “classic” period, we know David Coverdale is not going to hire anyone without a firm grasp on how to play the blues. Between the two we have a new outstanding guitar duo.
By the time I get to the 10th track, Righteous Days, it looks like I won’t be getting my slow piece but the outstanding melody displayed between the two guitarists and Glenn’s legendary voice doesn’t give me time to mourn. Just then, we get to the final track, Far Away, and I admit, they got me. Here it is, what I’ve been waiting for.
Almost 25 years before, Glenn Hughes had written a song about his well documented addiction problems with an intensely emotional song called I Don’t Want To Live That Way Again. You could hear the pain in his voice so I almost felt bad enjoying that song as much as I did. Thankfully, Far Away, while melancholic, doesn’t demonstrate any of that intense suffering but in many ways it feels, at least musically, like a sequel. Far be it from me to give you any spoilers, but in this song they couldn’t justify leaving us on a slow melodic note. The music crescendos just in time to…end the album. Kind of cruel of them. I was ready to keep rocking but it would be selfish of me to hold it against them that I want more.
I feel like I’m doing the band an injustice by continuing to harp on Glenn Hughes, the newest member, but this is where my interest was piqued afterall. Even with my moderate frustration of Glenn’s solo output, while still excellent, I was even more frustrated with his meandering from band to band the last decade. It made it hard to keep following him in addition to all the other bands I’m into. In some ways I wish he just would have gone back to concentrating on his solo career. But now? I think Glenn may have found his home. The chemistry of these four musicians is insanely good and for Glenn, I think he may have found the balance I thought he was lacking during the latter part of solo outings.
Considering three of the four members of The Dead Daisies are sort of musicians without a permanent home, maybe this album will give the band the kick they need to NOT change lineups from here on out. Just like some bands start off with a core foundation and devolve into a revolving door scenario, maybe The Dead Daisies can do the reverse. Maybe it’s time to end this “roundabout” and stick with these four. I doubt they’re musically spent after this album. In fact, I think they’re just getting warmed up.
RATING: The Dead Daisies – Holy Ground: A-
About the author: Bernard Romero is a history teacher by day and a music and film fanatic by night. He actually just bought his niece a Tommy Bolin record (Glenn’s former bandmate and best friend) because if you’re from Iowa and don’t own a Tommy Bolin album, you’re not truly an Iowan.
- Holy Ground (Shake The Memory) 4:49
- Like No Other (Bassline) 3:39
- Come Alive 3:50
- Bustle And Flow 3:40
- My Fate 4:28
- Chosen And Justified 3:43
- Saving Grace 4:08
- Unspoken 4:47
- 30 Days In The Hole 3:40
- Righteous Days 4:11
- Far Away 7:03
Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple) – bass, vocals
Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio) – guitars
Deen Castronovo (Bad English, Journey) – drums
David Lowy (Red Phoenix, Mink) – guitars
03.02. DE-Essen – Turock
04.02. DE-Berlin – Columbia Theater
06.02. DE-Munich – Backstage Werk
07.02. DE-Hannover – Capitol
09.02. DE-Wiesbaden – Schlachthof
10.02. DE-Nürnberg – Hirsch
11.02. CZ-Prague – Lucerna Music Bar
13.02. SK-Bratislava – MMC
16.02. HU-Budapest – Barba Negra
18.02. AT-Vienna – SiMM City
19.02. IT-Milan – Live Club
21.02. FR-Lyon – CCO
23.02. ES-Barcelona – Razzmatazz 2
24.02. ES-Madrid – BUT
25.02. ES-Pamplona – Totem
28.02. FR-Strasbourg – La Laiterie
01.03. FR-Paris – Trabendo
03.03. CH-Zurich – Dynamo
05.03. BE-Vosselaar – Biebob
06.03. NL-Amsterdam – Melkweg
09.03. DK-Copenhagen – Pumpehuset
11.03. SE-Stockholm – Slakt Kyrkan
12.03. SE-Örebro – Frimis Salonger
14.03. NO-Oslo – Vulkan Arena
For more info about the release go to: https://thedeaddaisies.com/holyground/
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