These Pages Covered In Sand: Top 5 Sublime Albums

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With all of the musicians and singers and songwriters in the world, there is a problem in using such phrases as “This guy’s the real deal” in that it would seem to reject or dismiss the abilities of the countless others. Yet from time to time we are graced with such brilliance and genuine creativity as given to us by Bradley Nowell, that it is difficult, even for a writer, to conjure up something better to say. You could hear the sincerity in his voice and feel the passion in his guitar playing. And together with Sublime he was able to create such sweeping dynamics and deeply impactful music that people of all walks of life, interested in many different genres, can agree that Sublime is just plain old good music for fun times, and here are the 5 albums that best exemplify that.

5 Robbin’ the Hood

A little more raw than the rest of their stuff, with a much more amateur feel, like something fresh from the garage, this album is certainly worth noting. Although there aren’t a ton of radio hits or MTV videos from this one, two songs alone are enough to create a buzz: “Saw Red” featuring the not-yet famous Gwen Stefani and “Boss DJ,” a track sure to surface at any college house party. The “Raleigh Soliloquys” provide a bit of humor and insanity and “Steppin’ Razor,” albeit a Peter Tosh cover, is done with drum machines and synthetic soundscapes.

4 Sublime Acoustic: Bradley Nowell and Friends

Does it seem like I’m focusing mostly on Bradley? Well, there’s a reason for that. I understand the band is phenomenal, and I certainly mean not to take away from their skills. Fact is, however, he’s the reason for the hype. Here you have the chance to really catch the intimacy, the subtleties in his voice, in his style, and in his energy. You’d think they’d just want to plug everything in and get the bar jumping, but Nowell sits and gives an amazingly personal performance, with pauses, laughs, mistakes, and a bit of conversation.

3 Second Hand Smoke

Another post death release, this album includes many incredible pieces of material that might have otherwise gone unreleased. Pieces like “New Realization” recorded in 1987, or “Legal Dub,” “Super Star Punani,” and “What’s Really Goin Wrong.” In other respects, one might easily argue that the self-titled Sublime was actually their last album, and that Second Hand Smoke is just a compilation album. Regardless of these opinions, or the fact that MCA essentially muscled the remaining members to release the album, it’s simply got to be recognized.

2 Sublime

The commercial success of this album pushed Sublime in to the upper echelon of 90s rockers. Unfortunately, Nowell would not know or enjoy the success and recognition his music would receive. The album was released two months after his death, and exemplified everything he might have wanted from them. Somehow managing to stay true to the ska, reggae, and punk origins of the band, this album is actually all over the place. Mellow on tracks like the well known “Santeria” and maniacally mosh ready on tracks like “Paddling Out.” If I must name “What I got” or “Wrong Way,” well, at least it’s the twenty first century and our technology gives you the ability to catch up with civilization.

1 40 oz. to Freedom

Never before and not since have you seen anyone ballsy enough to stay this true to what they feel. Look, I don’t buy into east coast vs. west coast, or hippie vs. punk, or us vs. them in most any form, but unfortunately these things exist. So maybe you’re a punk rocker and you hide from your friends that you like that one Grateful Dead song, or maybe you’re a hipster and would be crushed if your girlfriend found out how much you love that Katy Perry song. Well, Nowell simply did not care what anyone thought, and so you end up with a Bad Religion cover and a Descendants cover on the same album as a Grateful Dead cover and a Toots and the Maytals cover. Just listen to the “Thanx” dub and you’ll see this man simply enjoyed anything he enjoyed, no hesitation and no explanation. Take a note.

It’s always a shame to lose such great creators as Bradley Nowell. Fortunately, his mates have moved on, providing the public with such acts as Sublime With Rome and The Long Beach Dub Allstars. Unfortunately, his legacy was cut short, and this is all the material he left for us to discuss. Let us know what you think.

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