Rock Sugar – Reimaginator (2009, self-released)
1. “Don’t Stop the Sandman” … 5:00
2. “We Will Kickstart Your Rhapsody” … 5:44
3. “Crazy Girl” … 3:46
4. “Voices in the Jungle” … 4:32
5. “Here Comes the Fool You Wanted” … 5:36
6. “Shook Me Like a Prayer” … 4:48
7. “Straight to Rock City” … 4:11
8. “Prayin’ for a Sweet Weekend” … 4:56
9. “Heaven and Heaven” … 4:38
10. “Breakin’ the Love” … 3:27
11. “I Love Sugar on Me” … 3:31
12. “Round and Separated” … 5:37
13. “Dreaming of a Whole Lotta Breakfast” … 4:04
Jess Harnell – Lead Vocals
Chuck Duran – Guitar, Bass, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals (“Prayin’ for a Sweet Weekend”)
Alex Track – Drums, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Producer: Rock Sugar
I can’t remember how exactly I came across this band but I remember months ago checking out their music video for “Don’t Stop the Sandman” and falling in love with what Rock Sugar was doing. And just what are they doing? Well, there’s an intentionally silly back story given to the band (ala Steel Panther or old school Fozzy) but the real deal is that they take one, two, three (or four!) completely different songs from the ’80s and rearrange them as one. This is where the album’s title Reimaginator comes into play.
Mash ups have been growing popular for years and you can find tons of them all over YouTube but this is the first I’ve heard of a band seamlessly recording the rearranged songs themselves (as opposed to the majority of mash up creators who just do some tricky editing on their computers with the original artists’ versions).
I hate to give away any of these mash ups (though some titles may be easier to figure out than others) but to give you an idea: “Don’t Stop the Sandman” is a hybrid of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”. And guess what? It works! There are more than a few surprise rearrangements as the world of rock ‘n’ roll meets pop. “Shook Me Like a Prayer” is one of my favorite tracks and features TWO AC/DC songs plus Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”. The result is amazingly fun!
For such a variety of voices to cover, vocalist Jess Harnell does a great job. It’s not easy to convincingly play the role of the likes of Axl Rose, Bryan Adams, James Hetfield, Steve Perry and Joe Elliot. His own vocal style comes through though of course, this isn’t a tribute group after all and his own style doesn’t disappoint. The production is just wonderful as well. I often don’t comment on the production of albums just because I don’t really have trained ears to do so but sometimes it is so good you can’t help but notice and that is the case here.
Rock Sugar is a project from three of the four members of Loud & Clear. Bassist Johnny Five has joined Rock Sugar since the recording of the album so I’m not sure if Loud & Clear is on hold or what but I hope there are plans for more “new” Rock Sugar material. There’s so many other classics out there and if any one is going to re-imagine them, I want it to be Rock Sugar!
Reimaginator is one of the most fun albums I’ve heard in awhile. A true feel good album, you can’t help but sing along to these mashed up anthems. Well worth picking up.
Highlights: “Don’t Stop the Sandman”, “Here Comes the Fool You Wanted”, “Shook Me Like a Prayer”, “Straight to Rock City”, “Prayin’ for a Sweet Weekend”, “Heaven & Heaven”, “Breakin’ the Love”, “I Love Sugar On Me”