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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rock Sugar – Reimaginator
Genre: Hard Rock/Pop/Covers/Mash-Ups
Review by: Jere - ShipwreckIslandStudios.com

Any time a covers album/project comes along it usually ends up generally obtaining a certain degree of attention yet just like certain fads whenever musicians decide to pay tribute to the groups that influenced them to go out and try bringing in new elements into a classic original is one of the hardest challenges known to man. As the internet age continues to break new ground with every passing day the idea of recording cover albums has become a thing of the past and thanks in part to popular online video websites such as Youtube there has been a breakthrough taking place known as video mash-ups . Who would have guessed that in the digital age the world would get to hear Metallica’s James Hetfield singing Enter Sandman over Bryan Adams’ Run To You (Which has affectionately become known as Enter You) or having Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up trading blows with the sonic grunge riffs of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit? For whatever reason this phenomena has become instantly popular it was only a matter of time when a group of musicians would eventually take advantage of such a unique concept and basically take some of the biggest rock and pop songs of the last 20 to 30 years and mash them into an entirely different form of musical entertainment. 

Led by one of Hollywood’s premiere voice actors Jess Harnell (best known recently as the voice of Ironhide in the live action Transformers films) Rock Sugar has done some extensive research going through some of the biggest hits during the glory days of stadium rock and by combining them with pop icons like Madonna and Eurythmics. What really makes this album stand out is the fact that Rock Sugar manages to balance two or three songs into one singular entity so when listeners pop Reimaginator into their music players they’re going to get bombarded with a whole plethora of contrasting emotions whether it be a somewhat humorous reaction towards a bold endeavor or then feeling some variant of bewilderment considering Rock Sugar have actually managed to bring some new fun and excitement into the hit songs of yesteryear that are still making steady rounds on classic rock radio. In terms of Mash-Ups music lovers won’t need to worry about a lack of variety as Jess and the guys have combined Metallica with Journey, Ozzy Osbourne with Rick Springfield, AC/DC with Madonna, Cinderella with Bon Jovi and Eurythmics, Warrant with Bryan Adams (combining each of their versions of Heaven), and Joan Jett with Def Leppard just to name a few. 

As a whole there are numerous reasons why Rock Sugar can be mocked (some might take a listen to this project and boldly say that these guys have desecrated a bunch of the rock world’s most beloved gems) however when looking at how mash-ups have gone on to become very popular in their own fashion to have an entire album created and delivered in a professional manner Rock Sugar shouldn’t have any problems branching out to find a wider audience. Time will only tell where a group as unique as this will go but than again considering the wide amount of hit rock songs that have shot up the charts in the last few decades I could see a band like Rock Sugar recording several more albums. The key thing they’ll have to focus on is ways to continue finding distinctive approaches in mashing songs up and presenting them in an entirely different manner than what the original artists initially visualized.  If that can be done Rock Sugar will be able to successfully corner the market in on the mash-up craze all the while becoming the innovators of this relatively fresh sub-genre.

The Good

In what could be best described as a cliff notes version of pop metal meeting up a greatest hits package Rock Sugar takes what could have been a rather dull covers/tribute release and smashes it with a ball-peen hammer. They then take the remaining pieces put them in a blender and shred things further so by the time everything is once again pieced back together again no one really knows what the final result will ultimately sound like. Unpredictability isn’t the easiest thing to contain yet Rock Sugar manages to release an album that for the most part takes a lot of risks and yet at the same time creates an exciting listening experience. Reimaginator changes the way that covers albums have been done in the past and will most likely make other artists reevaluate how to take timeless material and reinvent it into something all their own.

The Bad

A lot of credit has to be given to Rock Sugar for stepping up to the plate and swinging for the fences and to have them release an album of thirteen mash-ups consisting of well over 10 vintage hard rock/pop singles is something not many of today’s group could tackle. That being said Reimaginator is not the absolute perfect covers project on the market as with this being a mash-ups disc there are a few moments where Rock Sugar had some problems matching up tracks. It doesn’t matter if it’s an album of covers or a full album of originals every band, artist, or musician needs to have a consistent flow and to hear Queen mixed with Motley Crue or Def Leppard going a few rounds with Joan Jett those particular mash-ups didn’t quite fit the energy level that the rest of the album was tapping into. Regardless of the couple miss matched tracks Rock Sugar are onto something here and if there is a market for taking covers into areas like this I’m all for it. Reimaginator is a very fun listen and will most likely make passionate music lovers change the way they look at the songs which helped define a generation.

Rockers – Don’t Stop The Sandman, Straight To Rock City, Crazy Girl

Ballads – Heaven and Heaven, Here Comes The Fool You Wanted

Final Rating: 3.95/4

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