Sublime, famously from Long Beach, California, is a reggae/punk/ska band who formed in 1988 with members Bradley Nowell on vocals and guitar, Eric Wilson on bass, and Bud Gaugh on drums. After two albums, 40 oz. to Freedom and Robbin’ the Hood, without mainstream recognition, Sublime recorded their first album with a major label self-titled Sublime. Unfortunately, this was the last album that Sublime recorded. Bradley Nowell died of a heroin overdose in 1996.
Sublime shows how versatile Sublime could be sometimes. Sublime definitely helped make popular punk sounding music in the United States. Reggae beats are not uncommon in Sublime, the first song on the c.d., “Garden Grove” even makes references to Jamaica, saying, “Cause in my mind/Music from Jamaica, all the love I found/Pull over there’s a reason why my soul’s unsound” showing how reggae music influenced their music. This song is Bradley singing over a rolling bass line and a consistent drum pattern. Bradley did what most a lot of artists, songwriters, and people do by using their own personal experiences and relating it back so that more people can relate to it as well. Also, towards the end of the song it has been mixed and the albums been scratched to mix the instruments and lyrics around. “What I Got” and “Santeria” are the most popular off of the album and have received the most air-time on the radio. I personally love the song “What I Got” for the lyrics and the really awesome guitar solos. Recently, I attended Earthday Birthday in Orlando, Florida and as Chevelle was leaving the stage they played “What I Got” as a song just in between bands, but as soon as the song started people who had started to merge out from the crowd stopped and started singing. It was like for at least a few moments, people just gave into the song and the lyrics because they truly felt that “Lovin’ is what I got.”
Sublime had some major punk roots. Songs like “Same in the End” with its crashing cymbals and drum rolls fantastic bass lines that mimic the guitar and give the song more depth and makes it a louder noise. Another of my personal favorites is “April 29th, 1992” which is about the Los Angeles Riots of 1992. The riots were started after the acquittal of four police officers who were accused of beating up Rodney King on videotape. These riots that started in Los Angeles spread throughout the United States, and in the song Bradley states the cities the riots were in. “Pawn Shop” has the most reggae influence in my own opinion with the slow but consistent beats with short stops within the beat and reggae feel on the guitar. The slow repetition of “Down here at the pawn shop,” I think also adds to the reggae vibe.
Sublime is the band of Long Beach, California. In numerous songs, in multiple ways, Sublime always references their roots in Long Beach, California, or the LBC as they call it in many songs. And just like a lot of Californians, Sublime was a surf band as well. The song “Paddle Out” is all about surfing, the best places to surf, experiences when surfing, along with a classically good surf guitar riff. “Caress Me Down” is one of my favorites, and many other peoples favorite as well. Mainstream and radio success for this song could never be even though is displays Bradley’s skill at singing in Spanish and English because a majority of the song would be bleeped out and that would just ruin this bass filled song.
Sublime is a great band. It’s sad that Bradley died at such a young age with such a bright future ahead of him, but things happen. The surviving members, Eric and Bud, are still around and have recently started performing as Sublime With Rome, Rome being the guy they found to fill in for Bradley. Debates have been made whether its right for Eric and Bud to continue playing under the name Sublime without Bradley. But that’s up to personal opinion. That is why there was a compromise to add the With Rome onto the end of Sublime after a copyright lawsuit from the Nowell estate. I do know that I’d love to hear new music by them because they both are great musicians. But to me, Sublime cannot really be Sublime without Bradley.