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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » Gillan - 1980 Glory Road
Gillan - 1980 Glory Road

ARTIST: Gillan
ALBUM: Glory Road
LABEL: Virgin
SERIAL: V 2171
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: Reissue List..


LINEUP: Ian Gillan - vocals * Bernie Torme - guitar * John McCoy - bass * Mick Underwood - drums * Colin Towns - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Unchain Your Brain * 02 Are You Sure * 03 Time And Again * 04 No Easy Way * 05 Sleeping On The Job * 06 On The Rocks * 07 If You Believe Me * 08 Running, White Face, City Boy * 09 Nervous


With such a varied solo career it's hard to zero in on Ian Gillan's finest moment outside of Deep Purple. His early fusion albums with the Ian Gillan Band probably shocked everyone in the 70's, but were all uniformly excellent. In my opinion his years as the leader of Gillan were arguably his most productive and consistent period however, with a series of albums rivaling the excellence of Deep Purple themselves. Trying to pick the definitive effort of the band is almost futile, but 'Glory Road' has always stood out to me as Gillan's best work. It followed the classy likes of 'Gillan' and 'Mr Universe' where Gillan seemed to increase the heaviness and eccentricity twofold. Thinking about it now, who would have really wanted Purple to reunite back in 1980 when he was cranking this stuff out? The same could be said for Rainbow and Whitesnake too.

The Songs
'Unchain Your Brain' is a frantic opener, almost verging on early thrash and more than a competitor for the upstart likes of Iron Maiden and Saxon etc. The production is timeless, with a savage guitar sound that still stands up 36 years later. A menacing bass rumble from McCoy leads into 'Are You Sure,' another decisive slab of what to me is true heavy metal. Naturally it's melodic, displaying the type of class you'd expect from a seasoned pro like Gillan himself. 'Time And Again' surely rates as his best ballad, a bluesy workout with a chorus of significant magnitude. It shows the different shades Gillan was capable of, ably assisted by Torme and McCoy, who co-wrote most of the songs. This is often why the Purple reunion of 1984 leaves me cold, the songs never approaching the melody of a track like this. 'No Easy Way' is a lengthy six minute masterpiece, starting out slowly and eventually incorporating a satisfying mixture of keyboards and blues ridden guitar work. One of the better known tracks off the album is 'Sleeping On The Job' which was the only single for some reason. The track flows nicely, the organ work at the forefront, with some wild guitar work from Torme. The lyrics are inane, with Gillan singing about 'Big Ann' who's a 'working man'sleeping on the job. Maybe the lyrics are too clever for me, but I've never understood the meaning behind them.

'On The Rocks' is another six minute track, opening with a host of haunting synthesizer work, almost a throwback his earlier fusion work some years before. It leads in to a certified classic, the interplay between all concerned quite extraordinary, very heavy and atmospheric. It leads me to believe Gillan never quite gets his due for his body of work outside of Purple. This smokes anything off 'Fireball' or 'Who Do We Think We Are.' Even longer is the seven minute 'If You Believe Me' where Gillan turns in one of his best vocals of a long career, with the blues element evident again, this one putting a Robert Plant or David Coverdale to shame in that particular year. The almost crazed 'Running, White Face, City Boy' rates as one of Gillan's heaviest moments, the chorus owning a desperate quality, complimented by Torme's superior axe work. 'Nervous' rounds out a perfect album, with some AOR elements to the chorus and the riff which recalls to some extent 'Life In The Fast Lane' by The Eagles.

In Summary
There's no doubt Gillan was on a roll here, with each album better than the last. The fact it reached number three in the charts indicates how popular he was, blowing away the competition. The previously reviewed 'Future Shock' maintained his popularity and the rest of course is history. But perhaps the impact of albums like 'Glory Road' could use a critical rethink, it's some of the greatest hard rock of its time.

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#1 | rkbluez on March 31 2016 01:05:16
My favorite Gillan album...the band was on fire on this one...should of been a huge hit.
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