One good thing about music, is when it hits you -- you feel no pain.The late Bob Marley is admittedly not the first person I'd think of to pen such a profound observation, but that quote is always one I've held very close to my heart. Fitting, then, that those words found in "Trenchtown Rock" preface the 10th Anniversary Edition of Sublime, an album that has a hell of a lot more style and soul than most people in the underground community give it credit for.
The fact of the matter is that Sublime was, and is, unique. Their style, broad and far-reaching as it was, is not for everyone. For those not too high and mighty to enjoy the California blend of punk, reggae, ska, and dub, this collection is certainly not one to pass up. In addition to the original album, there's a second disc with acoustic versions, alternate versions, remixes, instrumental versions, and some videos as well that encompass all of their most well-known material.
That first disc is what started it all, though, and with the incredible collection of 18 tracks, it's really not that difficult to figure out why. Bradley Nowell had soul, you could hear it in his voice and you could hear it in his guitar playing. It's undeniable. One listen to the wildly-popular "Santeria" should let you know just why that's the case; it's the perfect blend of laid-back and gorgeous guitar playing with Nowell's unique and effortless delivery. That smooth style can also be found in "Pawn Shop," a six-minute track that doesn't even feel like half the time. A laid-back song heavily influenced by reggae, "Pawn Shop" relies foremost on the flow to generate a laid-back and rhythmic atmosphere. The smooth basslines and squalling guitar solos at the beginning set the stage well for Nowell's eventual foray into the track, for which he is the centerpiece. Cool as the other side of the pillow, he's able to make about four lines' worth of lyrics stretch into those six minutes without ever coming up empty. His six strings tell more of the story, and they still never miss a beat.
But this is 2007; everyone has heard Sublime. Everyone knows what they sound like, and everyone's got an opinion one way or the other, so why should you buy this re-issue? Remember that second disc I mentioned earlier? Yeah, that's why.
"Doin' Time" alone is remixed five different ways, and everything from instrumental to a more funked-out Wyclef Jean rendition sounds good enough to have been on the original album. They may not have all fit the flow, but the style and quality is never lacking. The instrumental versions of "Caress Me Down" and "What I Got" are also extremely enjoyable, and it's pretty interesting to see what some of the most popular songs of the `90s sound like without any vocal inclusion. The live videos and 15 songs' worth of additional content make this collection worth the sticker price alone.
It's tough, because there's genuinely nothing to say about this band that hasn't been said by every other music critic for the past ten years. What I do know, is that Sublime was unique in vision and unique in style, and it's a shame their career was cut so short. At least with music, when it hits you -- you feel no pain.