Sugar Ray

The Best of Sugar Ray

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Around the time that "Every Morning" proved Sugar Ray weren't a one-hit wonder in 1998 -- following the 1997 smash "Fly," it was suggested that, at the very least, they'd be a two-hit wonder -- it became clear that the way to listen to Sugar Ray would be a greatest-hits compilation. That suspicion increased as they piled up hit singles over the next few years -- "Falls Apart" and "Someday" in 1999/2000, "Answer the Phone" and "When It's Over" in 2001 -- and when the bottom finally fell out with 2003's In the Pursuit of Leisure, which failed to generate any big hit, it became clear that it wouldn't be long before that hits disc came along. And here it is: Greatest Hits, released in the middle of June 2005, just as the summer was getting under way. That's appropriate, because Sugar Ray's breezy party music is designed for the summer, as this 15-track disc proves -- not only is it the perfect soundtrack for lazy days at the beach, lead singer Mark McGrath incessantly mentions summer in his lyrics, which just sets the mood. That mood is occasionally broken by such remnants of the group's metallic beginnings as "Rhyme Stealer" and "RPM," which stand in uneasy contrast to the sunny, friendly sound that not only brought the group fame and fortune, but made them one of the prime guilty pleasures at the turn of the millennium. These songs are all the more jarring because the collection is not presented in chronological order -- a move that wouldn't have been a problem if the disc didn't dip back to those early stilted hard rock cuts, since "Mean Machine" really spoils the mood that "Every Morning" sets. But that's nitpicking, since it's a problem that can be solved by programming, fast forward, or play lists. What's really nice about Greatest Hits is that it collects those aforementioned great guilty pleasures in one place. The rest of the album isn't as good as those hits -- some of it is just pleasant filler, some of it is ham-fisted rock -- but it's largely entertaining pop, and it makes for a good hits collection. (The disc contains three unreleased songs: the nice "Shot of Laughter," which is yet another entry in McGrath's "endless summer" catalog; a cheerful reworking of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," which relates neatly to Sugar Ray's cataloging of '80s favorites on "Under the Sun"; and the punk metal of "Psychedelic Bee," whose title inadvertently brings to mind the neo-psychedelic classic by Mercury Rev, "Chasing a Bee.")

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 3:42
2 3:58 Amazon
3
4:53 Amazon
4 4:04
5 3:22
6 3:41 Amazon
7 2:42
8 4:16 Amazon
9 3:56 Amazon
10 2:53 Amazon
11 3:39 Amazon
12
3:22 Amazon
13 3:50
14 1:54
15 3:38 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick