For those buried under a ton of rocks, before there was ever a Sublime with Rome…there was Sublime
Today being as sunny as it is, and it being Thursday, that can only mean one thing my fellow kilSters—it’s Desert Island Thursday! For this week’s installment of Desert Island Thursday, I’d like to take you back. Way back. All the way back to 1994. 1994 was a pretty good year as I remember it. Kurt Cobain died and that was heart wrenching and sad. Fucking heroin. I digress. In October of that year, So-Cal punk/ska/reggae three-man band, Sublime, released their fan-fucking-tastic sophomore effort, Robbin’ The Hood.
For those buried under a ton of rocks, before there was ever a Sublime with Rome (are you fucking kidding me??), there was Sublime. Sublime was: Bradley Nowell, Bud Gaugh, and Eric Wilson. Sublime first broke on the scene with their enormously popular first album, 40 Oz. To Freedom. This is as diy as diy can get. The whole album was recorded by friend and producer, Miguel Happoldt after hours when he still worked at his college radio station. The song that got Sublime attention, and ultimately a record deal with MCA subsidiary, Gasoline Alley, was the song, “Date Rape”; from there, Sublime was up and running. This piece is not about that album. If 40 Oz. To Freedom put them on the map, and their 1996 self-titled album shot them into the stratosphere, why am I not going to speak on those albums? For as important as they were (are), it was their 1994 album, Robbin’ The Hood, that really made me take notice of the band.
Robbin’ The Hood is so eclectic and a sheer vision of chaos. According to Nowell’s widow, Troy Dendekker, Robbin’ The Hood was mostly recorded at a well known Long Beach, California crack house (Bradley Nowell died from a heroin overdose on May 25th, 1996.) Robbin’ The Hood was as gritty and as gully as it comes. The album features three soliloquies from a mentally disturbed man by the name of Raleigh Theodore Sakers. On the cover of the album, Sublime thought to add that the songs within are “13 self produced 4-track home recordings” (there are 22 songs on the album. After the last track, “Raleigh Soliloquy part III”, coming in at 5:53, Sublime features an alternate version to the song, “Don’t Push”, a song that was originally released on “40 Oz.” Also included is a second hidden track, which is an untitled instrumental.)
This is not some heroin-soaked album that I’m gearing you towards. It’s better.
Robbin’ The Hood was written when Nowell was deep into the throes of his heroin addiction and the lyrics to some of the songs on the album reflect just that, more notably in the song “Pool Shark”. Don’t worry. This is not some heroin-soaked album that I’m gearing you towards. It’s better. Robbin’ evokes many moods as this was an experimental album, a “and the kitchen sink” album if you will. If you recall, earlier in the piece, I called this album a sheer vision of chaos. Well, that’s true, but it’s a most focused chaos. There are some real gems on this album. The keyword here is “gems”. There are no real radio-play hits on this album, unless you want to count the song “Saw Red”, a duet that Bradley had done with Mary’s little L.A.M.B herself, the still foxy, Gwen Stefani of No Doubt. You don’t care about the hits though, do you? If you did then there would be no point to this piece and I could just say two sentences like, “The band’s name is Sublime” and “go buy their greatest hits album” and that would be that. This album is special through and through.
you’re peering into Bradley’s soul as he invites you inside…
It doesn’t matter if you’re not familiar with all the songs on the album, that’s not the point. The point is, this low budget album has magic riding through each song. In every track, you can get a whiff of the love, anguish, and addiction. Before you realize it, with this album, you’re peering into Bradley’s soul as he invites you inside. For my money, this album gets all the love and props that it deserves (I love this album so much, I bought it at three different times in my life. It’s just that damn good.)
In their short and storied career, Sublime never put out garbage. What little we have from the original Sublime has been enough to carry me through all these years because they were a phenomenal group fronted by a drug-addled genius. I miss Sublime everyday. I miss Bradley everyday. The group might have reformed to include a somewhat Bradley voice clone, but hell, even original drummer, Bud Gaugh left the group after the release of the newly reformed band’s 2011 “comeback” album with said clone, Rome. It’s wrong. If Bradley wasn’t such an integral part of the recipe that made up Sublime, why didn’t Bud just stick around, hmmmm? It’s not right having someone else up there singing Brad’s words, that’s why. Sure, it’s worked thus far for Alice In Chains, but then again, Alice In Chains was not only about Layne Staley, and not to take away anything from Sublime’s two surviving members, because they are exceptional musicians, but the dynamic that made Sublime work was long gone. Eh, what are you going to do, right? At least we’ll always have the memories and the music as originally produced by three Long Beach, California beach bums. If you’ve never had the pleasurable listen of Robbin’ The Hood, then I invite you to discover this gem for yourselves. I await your praise. Feel free to pick up your copy of Sublime’s Robbin’ The Hood here.
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