Like their name suggests, Sublime is elevated, enlightened music for those whose souls have transcended the everyday pandemonium that deters us from being able to escape from our antagonistic existence. Their music is filled with fun, energetic, easy to listen to, sit down on the beach with a beer and grab your board and hit the surf kind of music. With its laissez faire attitude anchored in punk flippancy and reggae-rock fusion, Sublime creates a genre of music that very few other artists have been able to emulate. It also gave rise to the popularity of ska punk which was a fusion of reggae, rock, and punk music which helped launch the careers of their musical compadres No Doubt who were also from Long Beach.
My journey with Sublime didn’t start until the release of their third and final album due to the unfortunate death of lead singer Bradley Nowell in 1996. This self-titled album changed the way I listened to music at the time. I was stuck in the drudgery of gangsta rap, grunge-i-cide, boring hip-hop, and whiny rock. The stage was set for a phoenix to rise from the ashes of the deadening of music by the record labels. It turned out that their savior were three guys, Bradley Nowell, Eric Wilson, and Bud Gaugh (and honorary member Lou Dog, their adopted Dalmatian) who were more interested in having a good time and letting it show through their music than selling out to the corporate giant music industry.
One of my friends who was in the surf clothing industry in the early 90’s was fortunate enough to held events where Sublime played live countless times. They were small bars and venues where the main focus was celebrating the surf, the beers and the girls coming to enjoy all of the above. It was sad to see Bradley Nowell die form a heroin overdose, and although the remaining members have continued to tour, are part of the Long Beach Dub All-Stars and have even started a new Sublime group called Sublime with Rome (Rome Ramirez taking up the mantle for the fallen Bradley), it just hasn’t been the same since that fateful day in May of ’96.
I would be hard pressed to find a song by Sublime I didn’t like, but here are a few that are some of my favorites. And of course the video Badfish at the bottom, since it is one of my favorite songs of all time.
40 oz to Freedom
Robin the Hood