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SoundStage! Update

Sublime Ten Years Later

October 1, 2006

The tattooed back on the front of Sublime's self-titled album is eye-catching and the perfect symbol for this gritty, heartfelt collection of punked-up reggae, dub and ska: It burrows under your skin. Sublime was actually the band's third album, its breakthrough album, and an album shrouded in sadness. Two months before its release (and a week after getting married), lead singer, songwriter and guitarist Bradley Nowell died of a heroin overdose. He was just 28. The album went on to become a hit, with three songs -- "What I Got," "Santeria," and "Wrong Way" -- getting extensive radio and MTV airplay.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Sublime's release, Geffen Records and Universal Music Group have brought out a two-disc remastered Deluxe Edition of the album, which includes 15 bonus tracks, eight previously unreleased, along with remixes and videos. It also restores the album's original and intended sequencing, with Nowell’s opener, a cover of Bob Marley's "Trenchtown Rock," and the original version of "Doin’ Time" intact. "Doin' Time" was the band’s interpretation of George and Ira Gershwin’s "Summertime," an American classic. At the time of the album's release, the Gershwin estate wouldn't grant permission for use of the song, feeling that the new lyrics represented a fundamental change to the original composition. The band had to remove "Doin’ Time," at which point they rearranged the album and dropped "Trenchtown Rock."

The Deluxe Edition is a graduate seminar on the album. The original sequencing and the abundant extras, especially the acoustic and instrumental versions of some of the songs, impart a greater understanding of the music's influences and intricate structure. Sublime is a loud, beat-heavy swipe at bad people, ugly places, intolerance and urban decay. It is a more direct London Calling set in mid-1990s California.

Such blisteringly honest music may not be for everyone, but it is good for us all....Marc Mickelson, editor@soundstage.com

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