It's not often that legendary bands truly go out with a bang. Operation Ivy did it with Energy. Refused did it with The Shape of Punk to Come. Paul Weller broke up the Jam as they celebrated their #1 album The Gift. But most bands hit their pinnacle and proceed to watch their popularity spiral until they're finally left with no other option than to throw in the towel. Granted, it was the heroin overdose of lead singer Brad Nowell that forced the end of Sublime, but left in the wake of his death was the band's self-titled release that would spawn five top-ten singles and sell millions throughout the world.
Brad said it best regarding the Sublime sound:
Sublime is a hodgepodge of all types of bands I have been into since I was a kid. Not like I mix it all up on purpose but more like its a subconscious type of thing. As a young kid I was heavily into hardcore punk, like the Circle Jerks and Black Flag, then I first heard the ska sound from bands like the Selector and the Specials. I thought this was the best music I had ever heard. Then came the rub a dub style of dance hall reggae music which I've never been able get out of my head since! A little later I was into Run DMC and the whole NWA sound. I was blown away when I heard groups like BDP and KRS-One mixing rap and reggae. It was devastatingâ¦From the feel-good summertime beats of "What I Got" to the furious thrashings of "Paddle Out" to the skankin'-in-the-pit upstrokes of "Seed," Sublime's self-titled assembles a beautiful mosaic of variety that never strays from what is inherently Sublime. While the group's debut, 40 Oz. To Freedom, established their sound and place in the Southern California punk scene, this album established their place in the homes of kids everywhere.
Lead singer Brad Nowell recorded most of this album strung out on heroin and valuums, but rarely does it show in the music. His golden voice maintains virtual flawlessness, as he addresses everything from unwed pregnancy ("Seed"), surfing ("Paddle Out"), rioting on the streets of every major city ("April 29th, 1992 (Miami)"), teenage prostitution ("Wrong Way"), and of course, heroin addiction ("Garden Grove"). Unbeknownst to most, Sublime's self-titled is also scattered with unbeatable covers, interpolations, and tributes (Half-Pint's "Lovin'," Secret Hate's "The Ballad of Johnny Butt," Wailing Souls' "War deh Round a John Shop," Bob Marley's "Jailhouse," and George and Ira Gershwin's classic "Summertime" amongst others).
In recent years, MCA has done everything in their power to milk as much money out of Sublime as possible. An endless assortment of greatest hits collections, gold pressings, and boxed sets are tarnishing the image of a band built on DIYethics and non-stop touring. But I have a secret to share with you: This album is all you need to experience the best of what Sublime has to offer. True, their other releases are favorites amongst diehard fans, but no music lover can complete his or her collection without the perfect swan song of a band that was cut down in the prime of its success.