Sublime is Sublime's third & final studio album that was released on July 30, 1996 by MCA Records.
- Garden Grove 4:21
- What I Got 2:51
- Wrong Way 2:16
- Same In The End 2:37
- April 29, 1992 (Miami) 3:53
- Santeria 3:03
- Seed 2:10
- Jailhouse 4:53
- Pawn Shop 6:06
- Paddle Out 1:15
- The Ballad Of Johnny Butt 2:11
- Burritos 3:55
- Under My Voodoo 3:26
- Get Ready 4:52
- Caress Me Down 3:32
- What I Got (Reprise) 3:02
- Doin' Time 4:14
Sublime formed in Long Beach, California in 1988 by vocalist/guitarist Nowell, bassist Eric Wilson, and drummer Bud Gaugh. They originated as a garage punk band, and they eventually began to infuse elements of reggae and ska over the course of their existence.
They formed playing backyard parties, playing for $250 and attracting crowds of 300–400 people. They also toured heavily over the ensuing years, leading to a major following among the beach-oriented surfing/skateboarding subcultures.
By 1990, Sublime had become a mainstay along the Southern California coast scene, and Nowell dropped out of California State University Long Beach one semester shy of graduating.
They recorded their debut album, "40 Oz. to Freedom" in 1992, selling the independent release at live performances. Local radio station KROQ began spinning the single "Date Rape" two years following its release, and Sublime rose to fame.
By this point, Sublime had dropped "Date Rape" from their setlists, but the ensuing success of the single led "40 Oz." to place on Soundscan's alternative chart for 70 straight weeks.
MCA signed them to the label shortly thereafter, releasing their second album, "Robbin' the Hood" in 1994. The record was nevertheless carried by various independent distributors, which placed it in independent record shops, surf/skate shops, and "head shops", in a marketing effort designed to appeal to the band's fan base.
Sublime also adopted the Internet as a viable promotional tool, distributing their albums through early online music retailers. Despite this, Nowell had developed an addiction to heroin; at live performances, he would often be unable to make it through sets.
On several occasions, Nowell would steal the band's equipment for a night's performance to pawn for drug money, knowing that band manager Michael "Miguel" Happoldt would find a way to re-acquire the equipment. He used clonidine patches in an attempt to quit, determined to do so both before signing to MCA Records and before the birth of his son, Jakob the following year.
Bradley Nowell was not the only rock star with a heroin habit in the mid-1990s; in 1996, Jonathan Melvoin of the Smashing Pumpkins died following an overdose, Art Alexakis of Everclear acknowledged his addiction, as did Phil Anselmo of Pantera, and heroin was found at the scene of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's death.
Producer Leary remarked to Spin: "Greater availability, higher quality, lower prices — I don't know why there's so much heroin around."
"Robbin' the Hood" performed well on college radio, and the band continued to grow in popularity, largely "on the back of the California punk explosion engendered by Green Day and the Offspring."
Nowell's addiction worsened over the course of 1995–96. On May 25, 1996, he died at the age of 28 in a San Francisco hotel room of a heroin overdose. According to one report, Gaugh had raided Nowell's stash and shot up while he was away; he awoke hours later beside the deceased Nowell in bed. Gaugh later told a reporter that "I thought, 'That was probably supposed to be me.'"
Recording & ProductionEdit
The album was largely recorded at Willie Nelson's Pedernales Studio in Austin, Texas between February and May 1996.
Although he had previously attempted to stay clean, Bradley Nowell returned to using heroin, "more vigorously than ever."
According to Leary, on some days, the band would arrive at 9:00 a.m. "with margaritas in one hand and instruments in the other," ready to record; on others, "they nearly burned the place down."
Nowell was so addled with the drug that he was sent home by Leary before the recording process was complete. He remarked: "There were times where someone had to go into the bathroom to see if Brad was still alive." According to Nowell's father, it took his son three days to recover, commenting, "It was the worst I'd ever seen him."
The album was originally intended to open with a cover of Bob Marley's "Trenchtown Rock", followed by "Doin' Time" (a loose cover of "Summertime" by George Gershwin).
However, Sublime were initially unable to get the rights for "Summertime", so Nowell discarded "Doin' Time" as well as "Trenchtown Rock" entirely and re-sequenced the album.
However, the band managed to gain the rights to the song before the album was released, and "Doin' Time" was added to the end of the tracklist at the 11th hour. In order to release the song using the Gershwin sample, the band had to agree to use the line "summertime" instead of "doin' time".
However, the song was already recorded with the "doin' time" lyric, and lead singer Bradley Nowell had recently died of a heroin overdose. The lyric was re-recorded by Sublime's friend/producer Michael Happoldt singing "summertime". It is this version of the song that appears on Sublime's self-titled album.
The album's original sequence (along with the original mix of "Doin' Time") was restored for its 10th Anniversary reissue
"Sublime" features elements of punk rock, dub, hardcore punk, hip hop, reggae, blues, folk, ska and surf music.
- "Pawn Shop" is a cover of "War Deh Round A John Shop" by The Wailing Souls with modified lyrics.
- "What I Got" is based on Half Pint's "Loving" and features a similar melody to The Beatles's "Lady Madonna."
- The band also covers The Wailer's 1965 song "Jailhouse" written by Bunny Wailer, combining it with a partial cover of Tenor Saw's "Roll Call" in "Jailhouse".
- "The Ballad of Johnny Butt" is largely a cover of a Secret Hate song from their "Vegetables Dancing + Live & More" album.
- "Doin' Time" is a loose cover of the Jazz standard "Summertime" by George Gershwin.
- "Get Ready" is largely based on Frankie Paul's 1987 single of the same name.
Some of the album's original compositions also have borrowed elements:
- While "April 29, 1992" is an original song, it features samples from "La Di Da Di" by Doug E. Fresh featuring MC Ricky D (a.k.a. Slick Rick), "Original Gangster of Hip-Hop" by Just-Ice, and "Shook One (Part 1)" by Mobb Deep.
- The heavy bass line of ""Garden Grove"" is based on Courtney Melody's 1988 7' single "A Ninja Mi Ninja" and a synth loop in the third verse is lifted from The Ohio Players' "Funky Worm."
- Much of the rhythm and melody of "Wrong Way" was borrowed from The Specials "It's Up To You" off their 1979 self-titled album.
- Part of the melody from "Seed" was taken from The Bel-Airs 1961 single "Mr. Moto" as well as "Lori Meyers" by NOFX.
- The guitar solo and chords in "Santeria" were a reuse of the ones in their song "Lincoln Highway Dub" featured on the previous album, Robbin' the Hood.
- "Burritos" is a reworked version of one of Sublime's earliest recordings called "Fighting Blindly", albeit with vastly different lyrics.
- The bass line of "Caress Me Down" features the famous Sleng Teng riddim from Wayne Smith's 1985 song "Under Me Sleng Teng" and lyrics and melody are primarily from the 1980s 12-inch single "Caress Me Down" by Clement Irie.
By October of 1996, "Sublime" had moved 145,000 units; its success led to renewed interest in the band's back catalog, which experienced marked growth.
By April of 1997, the album cracked the top 20 of the Billboard 200 and it eventually peaked at #13 on the chart.
Sixteen months following its release, the album still sold 40,000 albums per week, eventually spent 122 weeks on the chart.
David Fricke of Rolling Stone complimented Sublime's "bright, wired bounce and the shell-game shuffle of funk beats, snappy Jamaican rhythms and mosh-pit, shout-it-out choruses in Nowell's writing," deeming it "the stuff of a band with great promise and the confidence to make good on it. If only that were still possible."
RJ Smith of Spin praised Nowell's songwriting craft, writing: "It might seem a daring experiment if it hadn't so effortlessly sprung from a Long Beach surf scene that featured acoustic jams on the beach that naturally flowed from Wailers to Descendents classics [...] Sublime succeeds not just on vibe but on songcraft."
Nisid Hajari of Entertainment Weekly called the album a "respectable testament" to Nowell's memory, ultimately noting that the record "coheres more on an intellectual rather than emotional level, its sound too diffuse to be dramatic."
Robert Christgau of The Village Voice gave the record an A-, commenting: "Junkies who retain enough soul to create music at all are generally driven to put their brilliance and stupidity in your face. Nowell is altogether more loving, unassuming, good-humored, and down-to-earth — or so he pretends, which when you're good is all it takes."
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic reports that Bradley Nowell's death allowed the album to be "slightly overrated in some critical quarters."
His critical review deems the album engaging and a demonstration of their potential, but also at times meandering: "The low moments don't arrive that often — by and large, the album is quite engaging — but they happen frequently enough to make the record a demonstration of the band's blossoming ability, but not the fulfillment of their full potential."