Sugardrive - When I Died I Was Elvis

When I Died I Was Elvis

1999, Gallo Records, GWVCD10



  1. (White Guys) Don't Drive By
  2. Interplanetary MVA
  3. Disco Lazarus
  4. I Love You. Discuss
  5. At Home
  6. Navelgazer
  7. 35 Mil.
  8. Who Where You Wearing?
  9. Soul
  10. Tsampa


  • 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

All info supplied by John Samson, June 2002

South Africa's Rock Legends
South African Rock Digest