I’m going to two gigs this month, so I’m going to do Discographies for both bands, thankfully they haven’t been going as long as the Beach Boys… First up is Sublime (technically I’m seeing Sublime With Rome, but let’s not quibble).
40oz To Freedom – 1992
Sublime’s debut album didn’t sell much when it came out, but they quickly established themselves as a key part of the California music scene even if no-one else was paying attention. Now it’s regarded as a classic of its time and rightly so. The blueprint for the whole band was laid down in its mix of punk, reggae, ska and hip-hop, with Brad Nowell’s ability to blur the genre boundaries within a single song already in effect. There’s so many great songs on here (Smoke Two Joints, Badfish, Let’s Get Stoned, Right Back, Date Rape) and the cover versions are also spot-on, meaning that 22 tracks isn’t overkill.
Robbin’ The Head – 1994
Even though they hadn’t had much success with their debut, Sublime seemingly felt that they needed to get back to their roots with the follow-up, so Robbin’ The Head is a very lo-fi production, all done at home. The ‘throw it all at the board and hope it sticks’ approach is even more evident here, with loops and samples aplenty, as well as a series of soliloquies from a mentally-disturbed man called Raleigh Theodore Sakers. Luckily, it all does stick and another collection of top-notch songs (plus a guest appearance from Gwen Stefani) helps make this another bona fide classic.
Sublime – 1996
Sublime’s third album was originally meant to be called Killin’ It, and ended up being the one that saw them hit the big time. Unfortunately, by the time it was released, it had been changed to have an eponymous title because Bradley Nowell had died from a drug overdose, and the band weren’t able to enjoy their new-found success. The tracklisting was altered for the version originally released and has been restored in a recent Legacy edition, but it doesn’t really matter, because the material is the strongest that Sublime ever produced. The lyrics, all snapshots of Bradley’s life are as good as ever and songs like Santeria, Wrong Way and hit single What I Got show how far this band could have gone.
Second-Hand Smoke – 1997
Of course, when a band get big just after their lead singer dies, (especially after releasing one album with their new major label) posthumous albums are inevitable. Second-Hand Smoke is a name that aptly sums up the content of this album, a hodge-podge collection of things that were either not finished or were left off their studio albums. Some of it is worthwhile, particularly the Uptown Dub of Doin’ Time, but this has cash-in written all over it, sadly.
Stand By Your Van – 1998
A live album is another fairly obvious way to get cash out of a band that don’t exist anymore, but in this case, it is quite appropriate. After all, most Sublime fans only discovered them after they split up, so never had the chance to see them live (the closest any will get being Sublime With Rome, of course), and it’s a good collection of tracks from various gigs the band played in 1994 and 1995, with obviously most of the material coming from the first two albums.
Sublime Acoustic: Bradley Nowell & Friends – 1998
The flipside of a live album is an unplugged album, so here’s one of those too, not specifically recorded to be that way, but a bunch of songs that Nowell performed acoustic (mostly on his own) at various shows, parties, etc. The packaging (no front cover and with the CD made-up to look like a CD-R) indicates how lo-fi the recordings are and it’s certainly only for Sublime fanatics, though it does have its charms.
Everything Under The Sun – 2006
The final (seemingly – and not counting the SWR album that is planned) Sublime release is this box-set of rarities, mostly taken from bootlegs that had been freely available online until the record company issued cease and desist orders and had them removed in time for this to come out. It’s three discs of demos, live songs, interviews, etc and is fairly hit and miss, but still makes up for interesting listening for those keen to hear the development of the band and their songs.