I’ve long thought of Big Sugar as having a lot of reggae influence. But now, I’m wondering if they might simply be the BEST, DIRTIEST SOUL BAND IN THE WORLD.
On Tuesday, June 28th, it’s going to be a good day for stereo systems everywhere. Revolution Per Minute, the first album Big Sugar’s put out in 8 years, is hitting stores, and it’s going to make some noise. Here’s the first track, “Roads Ahead.”
In the intervening years since we’ve had a new Big Sugar release, singer Gordie Johnson—for my money, one of the best frontmen working—has been busy co-writing and producing hit songs across North America and playing in his country-metal outfit Grady. Last year, I was blown away when Big Sugar got back together for a few shows and I watched them play sets bouncing back and forth across songs and genres so far away from each other I never would`ve guessed a band could pull it off. Records like Heated and Brothers And Sisters, Are You Ready have been built on that dichotomy, that sudden shifting between moods that made for such an interesting push-pull from within the audience. From one song to the next, you could never tell what was coming up with a Big Sugar record.
Revolution Per Minute works, instead, as Big Sugar`s most cohesive album to date. Rather than having each song push one sound over another, here`s a set that can synthesize all of Gordie`s very diverse influences into just 12 tracks, the longest of which is just over 5 minutes. The pacing in the record is perfect; diverse moods which would have been opposed in the past now run in parallel. All those sounds have finally settled together.
I mean, Gordie’s trademark Garnet Herzog-distorted guitar riffing is still there, but layered under more horns, keyboards and the signature sounds of Mr. Chill on harmonica than I’ve ever heard from this group before. And it works, man. It works.
Of the first songs, Mr. Chill just rocks the last section of “Come A Little Closer,” and I love the classic Joe Cocker piano behind “Little Bit A Alright,” but for me, it’s the last half where this record comes alive. There’s a group of tunes there that are going to be amazing to hear replicated live. If you were at their CMW showcase at Sound Academy earlier this year, you would’ve heard Big Sugar rip through a bunch of these tunes. I should note that, listening to the album again, I remembered most of the ones that I’d heard; the hooks are that strong. In that aspect, this is very much a classic Big Sugar album.
Featuring those unforgettable Gordie Johnson choruses, guests like Warren Haynes and, of course, the classic Big Sugar Gigantic Guitar Sound (patent-pending,) Revolution Per Minute is just the right kind of groovin’, rockin’ and bangin’ sound to keep this summer loud. And this Tuesday, to kick off the release, Big Sugar are playing the Mod Club in Toronto. I’m hoping to hear Revolution Per Minute from start to finish while I’m there. Where are you gonna be?
Another day / What do you say / We got roads ahead.