Sobriety seems to suit Glenn Hughes rather nicely. A nasty drug habit nearly cost him his life, as well as his career, by 1990. Off of almost everybody’s radar, Hughes was in danger of both burning out and fading away.

Miraculously, despite all efforts at self-destruction, the former Trapeze, Black Sabbath (yes, he was working with Tony Iommi on his solo album, but Seventh Star ended up a legit Sabbath release) and Deep Purple Mark III and IV bassist/singer – dubbed the “voice of rock” by, all of people, the techno-house outfit The KLF, who employed Hughes on their 1991 single “America – What Time is Love?” – got clean and started working his magic again, putting out an eclectic series of solo albums and interesting experimental collaborations that, once more, brought out the funk-soul brother in Hughes.

Live in Wolverhampton, recorded over two nights in 2009 in Hughes’s hometown, is sort of a Glenn Hughes starter kit for the uninitiated. Joyous and life-affirming, with an intimacy most concert recordings never quite manage to capture, this double-disc set showcases the vocal gymnastics and vitality of Hughes and the impressive chops of a band that twists and turns this material sideways and inside-out, breathing new life into it. When they get cooking on extended jams, Hughes, drummer Steve Stevens – not the guy from Billy Idol’s band – and guitarist Jeff Kollman threaten to boil over on sweltering hard funk and vibrant R&B workouts like the old Trapeze favorites “You Are the Music,” “Your Love is Alright” and “Way Back to the Bone” from Disc 2, themed “You Are the Music: An Evening of Trapeze.”

And what a night it is for this particular performance, reminding us all just how criminally underrated Trapeze is, the funk-rock pioneers having blazed trails few dared follow. Culling selections from both 1970’s Medusa and 1972’s You Are the Music … We are the Band, this set finds Hughes and pals giving “Coast to Coast,” “Seafull” and the warm, charming little ditty “Good Love” a soulful rendering, with some sophisticated jazz-fusion passages – as well as a stormy, yet melodic, take on “Jury” – thrown in for good measure.

All the colors of Hughes’s rainbow are display on Disc 1, where the rugged hard-rock stomp and thick grooves of both Hughes/Thrall’s “Muscle & Blood” – off their self-titled 1982 album – and “Crave,” from Hughes’s solo LP First Underground Nuclear Kitchen, move with purpose and bad intentions, with just a touch of psychedelic soul making the choruses bloom, as they also do in the sunny, kaleidoscopic R&B feasts “Love Communion” and “Don’t Let Me Bleed.” Stevie Wonder, who once called Hughes his favorite white singer, would be duly impressed, although he might blanch at their lengthy and unnecessarily bloated 20:36 reading of Deep Purple’s “Mistreated.”

Originally recorded by Purple for the seminal 1974 album Burn, Hughes’s first appearance on record with the band after he’d replaced departed bass player Roger Glover and David Coverdale had stepped in for Ian Gillan, “Mistreated” opens with an imaginative and beguiling Kollman guitar solo that’s gentle and delicate in parts and fluid and fiery in others. Still, this take is somewhat turgid and missing the smoldering bluesy character of the original, with some of Hughes’s vocal histrionics going a bit too far at the finish. Despite this misstep, Hughes’s confident phrasing throughout Live at Wolverhampton is sublime, those remarkable pipes of his sounding just as clear as they did 40 years ago.

When he screams, “I’m a man,” at the end of “Muscle & Blood,” you don’t doubt it for a second, and he chooses his partners well – Stevens’ amazing stick work in “You’ve Got Soul” is intricate and propulsive, and both he and Kollman, who sounds like a hundred of the greatest guitar players of all-time all rolled into one, seem perfectly in sync with whatever’s going on in Hughes’s head. The party for Hughes may no longer involve mind-altering substances, but if Live at Wolverhampton is any indication, it’s raging hotter than ever for a man who’s found serenity and happiness.

Label: earMusic/Armoury Records