More band compilation albums should be this breezy and fun. Newport Beach, California band Sugar Ray shot into public consciousness with the gently loping, good-time feel of "Fly" in 1997. After 2 more hit albums and 4 hit singles their fifth album In the Pursuit Of Leisure, released in 2003, faded from sight failing to generate any radio hits. The Best Of Sugar Ray gives us ample reason to see their demise as premature and be hopeful for the band's future.
The Cool Laid Back Band Lurking Underneath
Sugar Ray formed as a group of buddies jamming at local parties. Fortunately, for listeners, they've never completely lost that vibe. When they released their first album Lemonade and Brownies, with soft porn album cover art, they were mired in a rather uninspired, and unconvincing, funk hardcore sound. Before Floored, their second album, the band hooked up with Bangles producer David Kahne who helped tighten up their sound and uncover the cool, laid back band lurking underneath the artificial edginess. The result was the massive hit "Fly" and the funky pop-rock of "RPM," included in this collection.
Additional hits followed including "Every Morning" with its brilliantly memorable lyrics about the "halo hanging from the corner of my girlfriend's four-post bed" and the pleading wistfulness of "When It's Over." After In the Pursuit Of Leisure failed to produce hits, it seemed that Sugar Ray fell quickly from public consciousness. The new material here, recorded this year, shows a band that has lost none of their charm. A ska-inflected cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" is their latest in a long line of covers of 80's favorites, and "Shot Of Laughter" is as fun as any of their biggest hits.
Bottom Line: Outstanding Collection
If your music collection doesn't include Sugar Ray, it's about time you added their straightforward, non-pretentious brand of fun. This is an outstanding collection with all the hits and a number of forgotten gems. You will return to it time and time again all summer long. As bassist Murphy Karges writes in the entertaining liner notes, "The best way to hear this album is in a convertible with the top down...That's how I do it (actually, I only have a sun roof, but it works fine)."
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