Sublime’s 40oz to Freedom: 20th Anniversary
Release Date: June, 1992
Record Label: Skunk/MCA Records
Track Listing: Skunk Records Release
1.) Waiting For My Ruca
2.) Get Out!
3.) 40 oz. to Freedom
4.) Smoke Two Joints
5.) We’re Only Gonna Die for Our Own Arrogance
6.) Don’t Push
7.) 5446 That’s My Number/Ball and Chain
9.) Let’s Go Get Stoned
10.) New Thrash
11.) Scarlet Begonias
12.) Live at E’s
14.) Chica Me Tipo
15.) Right Back
16.) What Happened
17.) New Song
19.) Date Rape/Rawhide
22.) Rivers of Babylon
MCA Records Release:
1.) Waiting For My Ruca
2.) 40 oz. to Freedom
3.) Smoke Two Joints
4.) We’re Only Gonna Die for Our Own Arrogance
5.) Don’t Push
6.) 5446 That’s My Number/Ball and Chain
8.) Let’s Go Get Stoned
9.) New Thrash
10.) Scarlet Begonias
11.) Live at E’s
13.) Chica Me Tipo
14.) Right Back
15.) What Happened
16.) New Song
18.) Date Rape
21.) Rivers of Babylon
The month of June has long been coveted in the Reggae-Rock community, not only because the calendar flips from spring to summer, but the numerous album releases have been prosperous this year, as well as at the inception of this genre’s most notable band: Sublime. June marks the 20th anniversary of Sublime’s breakthrough album release 40oz. to Freedom.
After Bradley Nowell, Bud Gaugh and Eric Wilson spread their music out of the trunk of cars and vans at shows, it is incredible to believe, the iconic band has now sold over 17 million records worldwide, including over 2 million of the 40oz variety. 40 oz. to Freedom spawned, perhaps, the first taste the masses received from Sublime, while still remaining prevalent to this day.
The music Sublime created was a unique fusion of reggae, hip-hop, punk rock, ska, classic rock guitar solos and even a touch of Spanish rhymes. All three-band members created their own style during recording sessions and live performances. Needless to say, Sublime was the definition of innovators and ingenious musical talents.
Sublime embodied what California music was, and still is to this day. The band branded themselves with their name and record label (Skunk Records) and created a blue print for success without garnering attention from the national public. They had everything they needed directly in the “Golden State” of California. Little did they know, one of the largest alternative rock stations in the country (KROQ) would soon get their hands on 40 oz. to Freedom, most notably track #19 titled, “Date Rape”.
Although, at that point, 40oz. to Freedom was still yet to be distributed through MCA Records, which later removed “Get Out!”, due to samples the band did not own, along with the hidden track after the aforementioned “Date Rape” called, “Rawhide”. Regardless of the track listing discrepancy, Sublime’s fans were able to listen to the band’s live material wherever they pleased with their major label debut back in 1992. However, the general public in the United States didn’t fully grasp the music until a few years later when the album peaked at #15 on the Billboard Heatseakers chart, and a year later peaking at #140 on the Billboard Top 200 albums, spending 9 weeks in the Top 200.
As Sublime’s producer for 40oz. to Freedom and the 1994 release of Robbin’ the Hood, Michael “Miguel” Happoldt referenced in a past interview with the great Philip Lucas-Smith, “[Recording] was a good time. The fondest memories were rehearsing for [40oz.]. At that point, the band was me, Brad, Eric and Marshall (Goodman) on drums. The album was basically our set at the time. Except we pretty much wrote the songs “Right Back” and “40 oz. to Freedom” on the spot. Brad brought those songs in on the last day and surprised us with those two and there was no way we were not going to do them. We literally threw those together and the next day we tracked them. It is hard to imagine the record without those two songs (haha).”
Trying to imagine the album without the title track is nearly unimaginable, at this point. However, creating art on the spot with those two tracks was the essence of Sublime’s style. Capturing those moments on tape has now brought millions of people together, singing the same tunes, one after the other with an unending routine.
Sublime’s sound was original and distinctively their own. Even while covering songs, each band member left their fingerprints on the sound coming out the speakers. If you lined up Sublime’s “We’re Only Gonna Die” next to Bad Religion’s original version, there are minimal similarities between the two. The same could be said with The Toyes “Smoke Two Joints” and Toots and the Maytals “54-46 That’s My Number”, compared to Sublime’s rendition, coupled with the addition of “Ball and Chain”. Sublime put their stamp on music history, and opened their fans’ eyes up to what good music is by honoring the past legends, and their inspirations, in an audio form.
Take the Grateful Dead’s song “Scarlet Begonias” for example. The song is a classic, yet Sublime pushed it forward to the masses in a new direction. In the same light, Miguel referenced Sublime’s collection of cover songs from 40oz. to Freedom saying, “Covers are weird, band’s play them, then they stop playing them and those covers just happened to be the ones we were playing at that time. Sublime had been doing the Bad Religion cover from the night I saw them and they may have even been doing that song from the day they started the band.”
Miguel continued to explain, “The other covers we just did them. ‘Scarlet Begonias’…It was another last minute song addition. Originally Brad sang the whole song and then the middle part where he sings “Summer of love…” was a guitar solo. That version was probably pretty good. Brad would save you like that and he would do stuff like go out to the car, smoke and listen to the demo I gave him two weeks ago. He then came in with a bummed look on his face, he was not a perfectionist but he knew with minimal effort the song could be way better and that we have to go that extra mile. We have to!… [Brad] was just always wanting to do something special. He was good at zeroing in on that real heart moment.”
And now, twenty years later, the ever-growing fans are still cherishing Sublime’s “Something special” and “that real heart moment”, which Miguel referenced. Moreover, the sound that Sublime created has influenced an entirely new generation of kids and fans alike. It is rare to walk down the boardwalk alongside the various Southern California beaches and not see a Sublime influenced tattoo, or even a replica of the 40oz. cover art forever imprinted on their body. And, not too far from that sight, it is safe to say, Sublime’s “Badfish” will be billowing from an open-air bar or accompanying a beach volleyball game. All of that is before touching the surface of the countless bands Sublime has influenced today.
Miguel once said, “Reggae-Rock music is a real fun type of music and that is why Brad played it, because he would like to get in your backyard and make people happy. To see people poppin’ with the positivity. You can’t get enough of that in the world.”
In a nutshell, that is the beauty of Sublime’s music. Sublime still is, not was, one of a kind, and their name truly says it all.
Article By: Kris Siuta
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Video: Sublime – “Date Rape”
Video: Sublime – “Badfish”