- Garth McLeod: Drums
- Gavin Weinand: Bass
- Michael Westwood: Guitars
- Paul E Flynn: Vocals and acoustic guitar
Although their first album, 'Tell God I'm Here' was mostly an "unholy racket", Sugardrive
roared back, and cemented their position as one of SA's best bands with their second album,
the brilliant 'Sand.Man.Sky.' Hence the huge expectations that greeted this, their new offering
with the weird title. Where 'Sand.Man.Sky.' glittered with a rich diversity of material, speeds
and styles, 'When I Died I Was Elvis' (on first listen) seemed to be a low-key, almost flat
effort, despite the hype that preceded its release. But Paul E Flynn, Gavin Wienand, Michael
Westwood and Garth McLeod are far too smart to dump any old shit on their adoring public, so
this new album deserved a few listens before any final judgements were made. Eventually these
10 songs began to unravel and the ideas and motives behind this album began to emerge.
It's still not anything like what we originally expected. 'When I Died I Was Elvis' (what does
that mean??) is a shimmering album that burns slowly and serves up its delights almost
grudgingly. Paul E Flynn's lyrics are not your usual rhyming couplets and cool hooks. A glance
at the lyrics in the booklet reveal a mostly stream of consciousness-based lyrical approach.
This ties in with the very laid-back feel of all of these songs. Staccato drums, flickers of
guitar and unobtrusive bass provide a soft backdrop for the emotional and yearning lyrics that
Flynn growls, moans and mumbles his way through. Although 'Disco Lazarus', the first single, has
been receiving decent airplay, it seems Sugardrive would have preferred to avoid releasing any
singles at all. There has been a recent return to the concept of producing albums that can only
be appreciated by hearing them as a unified whole. 'When I Died I was Elvis' is a brave and
mostly successful attempt to achieve that, and as such, it risks losing the attention of many
fans and radio stations who prefer to pull certain tracks for compilation tapes and playlists.
But, ultimately it is that continuity, depth and focused purpose that lifts this album above
many of the other SA rock albums released recently.
Stephen Segerman, SA Rockdigest #23, July 1999