Sound — 8
Seriously doubt that anyone realized how good this band was back in 1992. If you look past their image and alcohol/drugs cloud, you'll probably see very talented musicians, who were not afraid to experiment with a whole bunch of styles. Lead singer/guitarist Bradley Nowell, a natural-born musician with a perfect pitch, along with Eric Wilson (bass) and Bud Gaugh (drums), as Sublime have been able to create an impossible mixture of punk, reggae, hip-hop, dub and ska music right on their first record "40oz. To Freedom". Released in summer 1992 on Skunk Records and distributed independently, it did not become a hit until KROQ began playing "Date Rape" in 1994. The album's vibe is just undeniable - it keeps you bouncing up and down all the way. You can smoke weed to it, you can dance to it, you can even cry to it - one thing you cannot do is stay aside with a grin on your face. On "40oz. To Freedom", Sublime varied their beats from hardcore punk gallop ("Hope", "New Thrash") to funk samples ("Scarlet Begonias"), guitar-wise it's reggae upstrokes and pumping bass-lines ("Smoke Two Joints", "Don't Push", "What Happened") with an acoustic touch to some tracks ("KRS-One", "Rivers Of Babylon").
Lyrics — 6
Well, Bradley's songs here, on "40oz. To Freedom", are quite simple - main themes are partying, smoking and generally having fun in Southern Cali. However, some tracks tend to stray from this: "Date Rape" (in humorous fashion) tells a story of a victimizer being sent to prison and getting raped there himself, "Ebin" is about a guy turning Nazi (again, in Sublime's not-exactly-too-serious fashion). "Chica Me Tipo" is sung in Spanish. Nowell's lyrics will get much more thoughtful, poetic and personal on the next records - here, it's all about passion and vibe - no matter what he's singing about, it's positive to the bone.
Overall Impression — 9
Many mainstream listeners prefer their eponymous LP, "Sublime" (1996), which came out after Bradley's unfortunate overdose death, but this LP to me is what Sublime is all about - no regrets, no possessions, no obligations - just neverending summertime fun on the beach. A perfect party album to someone, still, "40oz. To Freedom" is a record of sustained beauty, power, insight and groove, even if Christgau dismised it as "nothing special". Hard to pick best tracks, the album runs smoothly - I'd name "Smoke Two Joints", "Don't Push", "Let's Go Get Stoned" and "Date Rape" as highlights (seems arbitrary anyways). Give it a listen sometime to remind yourself of all the good times you've had and to anticipate the ones you will have. Cause Jah won't pay the bills.