Original / Melodic Rock
Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem / Strutter'zine-The Netherlands Strutter’zine
'Combined Forces' is the MICHAEL HUGHES PROJECT debut CD. The CD contains songs recorded between 1986 and 1992, so basically what you get hear is classy 80s period AOR/Radiorock that still sounds awesome after a decade. The CD was officially released in 1999, but like I said the songs were recorded years before that. Musically the pure 80s AOR on 'Combined Forces' sounds like classy AOR acts such as JOSHUA, AVION, AGENT, AVIATOR.
The first 5 songs are pretty much bringing you into AOR HEAVEN, because they are that good. Opener "Move to the Groove" is a good strong 80s typed uptempo melodic rocker a la JOSHUA. Then we're right into AOR HEAVEN territory with the superb midtempo AOR song "Broken Heart" that sounds like SURVIVOR. I also need to add here that there appears a second vocalist on this song, namely the female singer Jennifer Truesdall who has a great voice. The hooks are all over the place during the uptempo 80s AOR rocker "We All Change" that sounds similar to AVIATOR, AVION, AGENT Back into AOR HEAVEN with the superb midtempo AOR "Can I" that comes rather close to 80s SURVIVOR. One of my favorite songs is the fantastic 80s typed AOR/Radiorocker "Not Your Love" that sounds like a mix between 1985 FORTUNE and AIRRACE and includes great keys. "I Can Feel It" follows and is a nice AOR rocker.
The last 4 songs feature Michael's own lead vocals and songwise are also a bit weaker than the rest of the CD. The best song of these 4 tracks is the good uptempo AOR rocker "Paradise", but I really need to add that the hired singers (Bob Catalano and Steve Ciarcia) add more of a punch with their polished vocals. On the other hand my compliments to Michael for playing guitars, bass and keys very well on all the songs. It would be great if Michael would release more material with Bob and Steve singing his songs, because the music is really awesome AOR and very enjoyable to listen to.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem / Strutter'zine-The Netherlands
Multi-instrumentalist MICHAEL HUGHES out of New Hampshire, USA sent me his latest disc, which is the compilation CD ‘Odds’n’Ends’, which is actually a sort of best of from Michael’s previous 3 releases. Musically it’s a mix of 80s Rock and pure AOR. Not all the songs are convincing, because songs like “Red River’s”, “True Love”, “No More Obsession”, “Doing 99” and “One Night” are pretty average rockers. Happily, on the other hand we can also find good pure AOR material on this compilation, such as the AOR rockers “Broken Heart”, “Can I”, “Not Your Love”, “Doubt the Love” and “Take Care” that all sound a bit like PHIL VINCENT. Check it out for yourself.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Review by Open Bar / Make A Star.com-California, USA
"Red River's" Song Review
Musically the track flows well. Tempo, groove and chord changes are solid. The feeling is that of a classic rock track. The lyrics are fine and well crafted. They are passionate and paint a vivid picture. The arrangement is strong and believable. Solid, authentic and masculine lead vocal. It conveys all the heartache and all the sole that a classic rock song deserves. A very capable musician with a good feel. They say that everything old can/will become new again and I feel that Michael is right on time for this style of 80's rock to come back again. I think it could be marketable with the right image and live show. Michael's sound is authentic and emotional. I think it's important that he sticks with the music that he's so passionate about.
Review by Moreno Lissoni / Slam! Party Rock'zine-Italy
Michael Hughes is a musician/songwriter from Boston, MA-USA, and has been gaining experience playing between the mid 80's and first of the 90's with one band called HIGH GEAR. After finishing this experience, Michael released his first own entitled CD "Combined Forces", which included 8 pieces recorded between 1986-1992. "Finally Out", released this year (2001), includes twelve pieces that musically can be defined as pop/AOR and by common perception; close to the sounds of JOURNEY and PHIL VINCENT. The result is very homogeneous and you cannot find picks or a fall of tone.
Nicky Baldrian / Fireworks Magazine-UK
Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem / Strutter'zine-The Netherlands Strutter’zine
Out of New Hampshire, USA comes the MICHAEL HUGHES PROJECT. This band is based around one person, namely Michael Hughes who has done almost everything on his second CD, except for the guitar solos that were played by Bob Harnden. One way or the other, you can compare him to guys like BRYAN HUGHES (not related), JEFF CANNATA and newcomers such as JOE ROBINSON and PHIL VINCENT who all play the same kind of 80s AOR/Melodic Rock. There are 12 tracks on the CD and I couldn't find any weak song among them.
Michael's vocals are high-pitched and are in the SHY/TNT style. The songs are all rather nice and are enjoyable to listen to the album. The best songs are "Finally Out" (good mid tempo AOR), the PHIL VINCENT typed AOR tunes "Searching" and "Can You, Can I", the catchy uptempo AOR rockers "Doubt the Love" and "Angel for Me" (cool keys) and finally, the best song of the whole CD which is the classy 80s semi AOR ballad "Take Care". I'll be looking forward to hear and review some of the other CDs he is going to release in the near future.
Review by Heart of the Rock.com
From New Hampshire, Michael is playing a style, which crosses swords with other muses of the area of 8084 and Phil Vincent. It’s melodic rock, though a little derivative at times. Has two CD’s out. Worth having a listen.
We received your CD this week. Excellent work!!! We listen to the entire CD and enjoyed it tremendously. After hearing your song "Red River's" on Rock101 this past weekend, we would like you to come to the studio and do a three-song live recording for our show and do a radio interview. In the mean time, we will be airing various tracks in our rotation.
Over all, I really couldn't find a weak song among the CD. These tunes are great if you enjoy melodic/rock style material. The strongest tunes would be "Can You, Can I", "Red River's", "Searching", "Doubt the Love" and "Take Care". The quality of the CD is good for a demo but could be better if recorded in a professional studio.
Reviewed by T. Buburuz-IMG / International Marketing Group-Canada
We have found your material to be above average and quite enjoyable. Great work! Impressive musicianship and vocals, both lead and backing vocals! Very emotional album!! We have found your material to be well written both musically as well as lyrically!! In our opinion your work would be easily marketable to the right audience of music industry professionals!! I can see your material going over well at music publishers as well as record labels!! *Marketable!!
Northeast Local Rock-New Hampshire, USA
Michael Hughes is a musician/songwriter from Derry, NH. His primary instrument is Bass Guitar however he performed on all tracks (Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards and Drum Machine Programs) on his second CD for the exception of the guitar solos performed by Bob Harnden on 9 of the 12 song's.
"Can You, Can I" opens the CD that is an up-tempo, melodic rocker with a catchy chorus (nice drum and bass jam before the last chorus). I actually caught Michael's second track, "Red River's" from this CD, on 'The Big Gig' on WGIR-Rock101 a few weeks ago. This song caught my ears right from the start with a nice, melodic guitar riff with solid drums and bass behind it. The title track of this CD, "Finally Out", follows as a mid-tempo, melodic rocker about a band working hard 'effort and time, practice and play, is coming out this very day' and finally bringing there music out for all to hear. Track 4, "The One We Lost", is an emotional song about the death of a girl who's time was cut short - 'can you tell me that it isn't for real, I can't believe she's gone'. Track 5 brings the tempo back up with "We Can Do It" - funky bass, nice)! "Searching" follows as track 6 with touches of 'Rush' in the musical jam after the guitar solo - cool bass! Track 7, "Doubt the Love", follows as a solid, straightforward, mid-tempo rocker that also includes a great mid section behind the guitar solo. Four of the following five tunes are a bit weaker than the others but still have a catchy, melodic sound to them. The one other song here, track 10 - "Take Care", is a mid-tempo, ballad type song about saying good-bye to a friend who's moving on with a terrific, melodic guitar solo.
I find all the songs by "The Michael Hughes Project" very melodic with touches of AOR. What he has done is excellent for a demo and his voice is similar to Geoff Tate and John Waite especially on the awesome song "Doubt the Love", this is a killer song very Queensryche circa Empire. My suggestion is that these songs could be awesome if they were made more technical and progressive a'la Queensryche because of his voice that I know people will love. Michael could turn these songs into monsters, which would catch onto the technical progressive scene that is really taken off big time throughout Europe. Honestly, the material I'm hearing is very catchy, the hooks everything. Reworking this material and making it heavier etc. can turn these songs around if they were more technical, and I just know we'd be onto a winner here. As it stands, the album is hugely enjoyable and the songs are capable of so much more.