Sound — 10
The sound of Sublime, especially on this album, is probably the best part of their music. "40 Oz." has a heavy ska and reggae sound, but with the energy of punk rock. There are so many different styles of music on this album. This is one of those albums where you can get a different experience by listening to different tracks. I would leave this CD in my car for days and listen to different songs based on what I wanted to listen to. Take the songs "We're Only Gonna Die", "New Thrash", and "Hope" and it's like a punk album. Listen to "5446...", "Badfish", "Scarlet Begonias", "D.J.s", "Right Back", and "Rivers of Babylon" and you've got a relaxed sound that will always bring a smile to your face. I would say that the sound on "40 Oz. to Freedom" is better than the mainstream self-titled album and the experimental "Robbin' The Hood". Several of the songs on this album are covers: "Smoke Two Joints" (the Toyes), "We're Only Gonna Die for Our Arrogance" (Bad Religion), "5446 That's My Number" (Toots and Maytals), "Scarlet Begonias" (Grateful Dead), "Hope" (The Descendents), and "Rivers of Babylon" (The Melodians). So that gives you a sense of their influence. The previous reviewer said the sound quality isn't great; I disagree. Even on a low budget, this album sounds great. The effects, double tracked vocals, and balance of instruments sounds great. The live track "Rivers of Babylon" sounds amazing, it's almost like you're actually there listening to the song. The only thing that sounds amateurish is the sampling, which probably wouldn't sound as cool if it sounded cleaner, so I won't complain.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are good for what they're trying to accomplish. A lot of lyrics about partying, drugs, and alcohol. "Badfish" is a little deeper because it's about struggling with heroin addiction. Several of the songs are covers, but the lyrics on the covers are similar to the ones written by Sublime. Sublime's lyrics aren't amazing like Nirvana's or Joy Division's lyrics. But at the same time, there aren't any lyrics that irritate you or sound out of place. I would say that the lyrics on the self-titled album are slightly better than on "40 Oz.". Some of the lyrics are also lifted from other songs (like from "Rudy, A Message to You" in the song "D.J.s").
Overall Impression — 10
This is a great album that doesn't compare to any other artist. There were many ska bands in the 90s, but most of them sounded cheezy, like they took an upbeat song and added trombones and trumpets (Reel Big Fish I'm looking at you!). There is little not to like about this album, and I notice cool things every time I listen to it that I hadn't before. This is Sublime's best album. The self-titled album had less energy and sounded too mainstream for Sublime. "Robbin' The Hood" was really cool, but spent a little too much time experimenting for the sake of experimenting. I would definitely buy this CD if it got stolen, especially since it's like less than 10 bucks at most stores.