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Born in the late 60's, Chesy hails from a Welsh mining village with a long name and was pretty glad when he got the Hell out of there. He got into Rock/Metal in about 1980, thanks to a TISWAS related incident (Rainbow video for All Night Long) and thankfully has never looked back. Chesy often sang solo in the school choir, but thanks to a puberty related incident his voice is now completely bolloxed, although in his own head Paul thinks he sounds like a blend of Coverdale and Dio (R.I.P). He was brought up on the classics - Deep Purple, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, Rush, Whitesnake and loved melodic rock and the Hair Bands of the 80's. (Nowadays, he has progressed a little and prefers a more technical and/or progressive metal - Dream Theater, Rush, Symphony X, Porcupine Tree, Pain Of Salvation, Spock's Beard. He hates Black and Death Metal (can't stand the grunting) but for some unknown reason loves the magnificent Opeth! He wont stop this blog until his beloved FM finally play the likes of the NEC as a headlining act!!!

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Ten - Heresy and Creed Album Review

Spoiler Alert! Gary Hughes & Ten have another album chock full of lush, polished production and overblown pomposity. He never goes for ‘piece of piss’ compositions, most have to be some form of symphonic masterpiece.

Now the old PR fella (or lady) have obviously been sniffing the magic markers, as this has been labelled up as ‘’ a true classic Ten and a groundbreaking, monumental album in more ways than one: classic hook laden songs. Power and melancholy with not a single ‘filler’ in sight.’’ You’ve gotta love ‘em!

Now most people who know a thing or two about Melodic Rock will no doubt be aware of Mr.Hughes’ / Ten’s background..for those who don’t here’s a brief rundown. A long time ago in a galaxy (Manchester) far, far away……..

After two successful solo albums, British vocalist/songwriter Gary Hughes was making the preparations to begin recording what was to be his next two solo albums. 28 songs that were to be divided into two albums - one Rockers and one Ballads.  After other musicians were brought in to play on the material, the music became more band orientated and thus Ten was born. Yay!

Mike Stone (Asia, Journey, Whitesnake) was assigned to mix the initial albums, marking the first official incarnation of Ten. The debut “X” was released in May 1996, becoming an instant success. The second album “The Name of the Rose” ( a storming piece of work) came out next, and hot on its heel in ’97 came another belter “The Robe”. Subsequent albums followed quickly. “Never Say Goodbye” (a double live album),  “Spellbound” with well-known producer Rafe Mckenna (Giant, Bad Company). “Babylon”, which was released in August 2000 and featured renowned keyboard player Don Airey (Ozzy, Rainbow, Deep Purple) in the lineup. During this time Gary Hughes also wrote three very popular solo albums for ‘Pointy’ Bob Catley (Magnum) a solo album in a more melodic direction for himself that included “Precious Ones” and the two part critically acclaimed rock opera project named “Once and Future King” which saw the participation of such special guests as Damian Wilson, Bob Catley, Dougie White, Sean Harris, Danny Vaughn, Lana Lane, Irene Jansen, DC Cooper, Sabine Edelbacher and Harry Hess. He’s one busy bloke.

In August 2006 the band released “The Twilight Chronicles”, before taking some sabbatical years. Ten reappeared with 'Stormwarning' in early 2011, and proved he could still cut the mustard. And has seen a renaissance for Ten.

Songwriter Gary Hughes worked hard to live up to the expectations surrounding Ten’s new album, and aptly is their tenth studio album.Not just an Arabian title, Hughes goes for the full Arabian effect on the intro and 'Arabian Knights' (unfortunately he doesn’t shout ‘Size of an elephant’ at any point during the song. Bugger!).

As usual he sets out the stall for the symphonic aural hammering for the discerning listener. One thing is certain, the guitar playing is absolutely bloody superb. If Hughes paid Mitchel and Halliwell by the note, they’d be rich I tell ya…RICH!!!

Gary Hughes more than makes up for his vocal range in quality songwriting, I find that he’s probably a bit deeper now than he has been, but it’s a small gripe of mine that I need to let go of. ‘Gunrunning is a very nice slice of melodic catchiness. There’s enough layers here with keyboards etc to whet the AOR fanatics appetites. 

Fuck me, what’s up next will surely see Hughes fight a lawsuit from Messers Simon and Garfunkel. Ravens Eye is so blatant a steal from Scarborough Fair, it’s almost a complete pisstake. It’s a mainly acoustic number which is entertaining enough but I’d be constantly looking over my shoulder in future for S&G’s lawyers.  It does go a bit Lizzy on us in the mid section, but it’s a more ‘oomphed’ and polished up Scarborough Fair. Right Now opens with a bit of 80s keyboard refrain before a very tasty and tidy riff takes over and is probably the first instance I can hear where Hughes states the diversity from previous efforts as it is a departure from the norm for Ten, and proved to be a definite highlight.

The Last Time is where Gary Hughes’ voice truly shines, he was just made to sing this type of thoughtful ballad, and is probably one of the best ballads that Ten have ever done.
As usual the production from one Dennis Ward is mighty. I don’t think this fella has a duff production under his belt, and Hughes/Ward make a perfect partnership. 

I wrote this during my first listen ‘’Now I don’t know if it’s the best thing that Ten have ever done, but its bloody close!!’’ I have changed my mind. It’s probably the best thing that Ten or Gary Hughes has done.  Well done matey. 

Gary Hughes and Ten are truly the Kings of British melodic Rock, bar none.

If you cant make Firefest this weekend, please go and see them at a very special event in Wigan for ‘Rock For Anne’ Charity event at Maximes Two on the 23.11.12


Tracklisting: The Gates Of Jerusalem (Instrumental); Arabian Knights; Gunrunning; The Lights Go Down; Raven’s Eye; Right Now; Game Of Hearts; The Last Time; The Priestess; Insatiable; Another Rainy Day; Unbelievable; The Riddle.

Gary Hughes - Vocals, Guitars, Programming
Dan Mitchel - Guitars
John Halliwell - Guitars
Steve McKenna - Bass Guitar
Darrel Treece-Birch - Keyboards
Max Yates - Drums And Percussion

Produced By : Dennis Ward And Gary Hughes

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