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Wednesday, February 24, 2010



Having grown up loving equally the pop and hard rock that came out of the 80's, there have been many times that I have wondered what some of the classic 80's pop songs would sound like done as more rocked up versions. Never once however did I envisage hearing a project as ambitious and defying as what Rock Sugar have released with ‘Reimaginator’.


So what makes you some "Rock Sugar" exactly?  Well take one pop song from the 80's, mix in a hard rock song from the same era and every so often throw in an extra song or two for good measure, then over a CD of 13 tracks, feature no less than 30 of these classic’ songs!  Sounds a simple concept in theory, right?? Well no...listening to ‘Reimaginator’ you realise that it's far easier said than done!  Now don't take this the wrong way....this album is pure KILLER from start to finish. What I mean is that the prodigious talents of those involved in Rock Sugar should not be underestimated in playing a large part of the success in pulling off this album.  Lesser bands may attempt such an album and fail miserably....


Part of the mystique and expectation when listening to this album is the sheer unexpectedness of what lies in store with these songs, so we won't spoil it all by revealing every single minute detail in this review......please read on.  First track is the complete sacrilege of ‘Don’t Stop The Sandman’ where the crushing riffs of Metallica's ‘Enter Sandman’ are blended seemlessly with the sublime melodicism of Journey's classic ‘Don’t Stop Believin’. You said what.....yes that's right I said Metallica and Journey.  But that's essentially the whole foundation of ‘Reimaginator’, it works "because pop rocks".


‘We Will Kickstart Your Rhapsody’ sees adrenalin fuelled moments from Queen and Motley Crue flipped on their head to create the ultimate fist pumping, high octane sports action sequence anthem. Where is "Wide World Of Sports" when you need it?  As for ‘Crazy Girl’, well if you thought Metallica and Journey was sacrilege, then what would you think Ozzy Osbourne wrangling with Rick Springfield?? Not surprising to me, it's the Rick Springfield classic that comes out the victor given the Rock Sugar treatment.


The epic, ‘Here Comes The Fool You Wanted’ along with album closer ’Dreaming Of A Whole Lot Of Breakfast’ are the songs that exhibit the sheer brilliance of some of the arrangements of these songs.....words don't do these songs justice, just go listen to them!  All the essential trademark elements of the original songs have been seemlessley included into these new versions.  Even lyrics have clever moments where there are literary trade offs. But it doesn't just end there, in some cases the band has managed to stamp their own authoritative interpretation on songs, making the songs their own - check ‘Heaven And Heaven’.


The only time in my life I have found myself singing Madonna is upon hearing ‘Shook Me Like A Prayer’....one of the standout tracks on the album. ‘Strait To Rock City’....well you can check this one out for yourself as you wouldn't believe me if I told you the pairing on this song, but how are those Mutt Lange'esque backing vocals!!!  What do you get when you combine 3 of the most recognised rock guitar classics from the 80's....’Prayin For A Sweet Weekend’ that's what! This track is a monster!!  First they made me sing along to a Madonna track and now I think I have to confess to a few friends of mine that after hearing this, i do agree that Livin’ On A Prayer may indeed be one of the best rock anthems the world has ever heard! But it took Rock Sugar to convince me....


For a band that has spent the last 20 years on a deserted island (www.rocksugarband.com for the full story) these guys have lost none of the potential they showed back in 1989 when they threatened to take the world by storm.  They sure know how to play their instruments, sing till their lungs explode and tweak the knobs in the studio to deliver a rock sound that will blast your speakers to smithereens! But then again, some of us expect nothing less from Harnell, Duran and Track who make up Rock Sugar.


For those of you who dare let Rock Sugar violate your musical senses, beliefs and prejudices you will be rewarded with an unexpectedly awesome album and a sure fire winner to unveil to all your rock loving friends!!


Don't stop believin'....because pop rocks!!


Reviewed by: Scott Smith

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