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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Rock Sugar - Reimaginator

The real surprise here is that it's never been done before.
Like all great ideas, the premise is very simple, though the execution takes skill - the boring, unsexy qualities that no one likes to talk about, like professionalism and musicianship.
Take a bunch of high profile pop / pop-rock hits from the eighties, and join them at the hip with a clutch of heavy metal anthems.
It has to be done in such a way that you can't see the join, totally seamless, but the songs still need to retain their identity, to be seen for the classics that they are.

These aren't mashups...where one song is laid over the other...'transformative' is the word (there's one exception, more later). Instead they take strands of separate songs, and weave them together, creating one discrete piece. Does it work? You bet your life. No one - except for the band - could have foreseen just how well.
And importantly, the tracks transmit the fun they had putting it all together, loud and er, clear.
Out with the band, the three members, Jess Harnell, Chuck Duran and Alex Track all have long and formidable professional careers in the entertainment industry. We've heard them all without realising it. And they've brought all that experience to bear on 'Reimaginator'.
Reimagine if you will, Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' and Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing' as 'Don't Stop The Sandman'. Harnell has Hetfield's guttural snarl down to a tee (and, if you've seen the video, he's also nailed his sinister grin and glassy, wide eyed stare).

On an album like this though, it comes down to personal favourites among the original songs. I just love the combination of Cinderella, Bon Jovi and Eurythmics on 'Here Comes The (Rain)(Nobody's) Fool You Wanted' (Dead Or Alive) (+Sweet Dreams Are made Of This). Yes, four different songs, all having to be pitched perfectly and arranged astutely. It could have all gone so wrong. But it's a small triumph. A genuine goosebumps moment. And it's the least well known song, 'Nobody's Fool' that rises head and shoulders above the others. A rock solid, pop metal cornerstone around which the whole thing is constructed. Few singers could handle Keifer, Lennox and Jon Bon Jovi with such consummate skill. Harnell does, just like he does all the others.
Elsewhere, Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' & 'We Will Rock You' and Motley Crue's 'Kickstart Your Heart' prove to be amazingly compatible bedfellows. And despite the fact that the perfect, heartstopping pop of '.Rhapsody' has made it into a true classic, the swaggering hard rock of the 'Crue track matches it here, pound for pound.
While 'I Love Sugar On Me' (easy to guess the source songs from this title) and 'Dreaming Of A Whole Lotta Breakfast' (not so easy) make great titles and are vastly entertaining more-than-medleys-but-aren't-mashups, the album highlight honour goes to the Warrant and Bryan Adams combo, 'Heaven And Heaven', where a "mashup" claim would hold enough water to float these guys back to their tropical island. This should be the next single.
Reflecting the threesome's technical prowess in the studio, the production sounds like its had the UK's national debt spent on it, or at least an investment banker's bonus. It's crisp, it's clean, it's polished, it's gleaming. Harnell's vocals are as clear as a bell and the backing vocals shine brightly behind him. And maybe more importantly, they've managed to avoid the karaoke trap, through sheer ability and expertise. Unarguably, 'Reimaginator' isn't original, but it's creative, technically brilliant and hugely enjoyable.
Roll on 'Reimaginator 2, The Classics'.

Written by Brian
Thursday, March 04, 2010
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