I would urge that when thinking of the best songs of the 90's for our current poll that you give a nod to the tragically under-appreciated songwriting talents of Brad Nowell and his group Sublime.
I'm not going to vote on this poll because I would simply be copying the tracklist of 40 oz. To Freedom,
or that of Sublime
I realize that for a thousand artists the 90's were a prolific period. You had your Smashing Pumpkins, your Pearl Jams, your Rage Against the Machines, your Faith No Mores, your REMs, your DMBs, your Black Crowes, your Nirvanas, your Ugly Kid Joes (haha no..... okay, maybe I loved them ), your Flaming Lips
, your Portisheads, your Bob Dylans (Time out of Mind), your Eric Claptons ("Tears in Heaven" - hate on that song and we're no longer friends), your Prince
s (link not entirely related), your White Stripes
, and so on all cranking out gems, but looking back, nothing is more "Nineties" to me than Sublime.
I'm sure it has something to do with turning fourteen and all of a sudden hearing a song about a hooker on the radio, but something about their self-titled disc jumped out and grabbed me. I didn't get into Sublime until after Brad Nowell (lead-singer/songwriter/guitarist) passed away from a heroin overdose. Their fame, in fact, skyrocketed with the posthumous release of Sublime
just two months after the incident. Hearing "Wrong Way" and "What I Got" naturally led to their back-catalog, two albums that did not disappoint. Instead they opened up a world of other music to me. I grew up on classic rock - the Rolling Stones, Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd. That's all I ever really wanted out of life: some girls, the hammer of the gods, and to not go batcrap crazy but still have my pudding
From Sublime you get to the Grateful Dead, you get to Bad Brains, you get to Bob Marley. I cannot stress enough how mind-blowing that synthesis of influences was for me. That's like traveling in three different directions at once. And all of it couched in stories of the streets written with a keener eye and quicker rhyme than any of Nowell's contemporaries could offer. Brad Nowell was a musical genius. He infused his music with an all-pervading sprituality and generosity of insight. It's unfortunate that because of his band's skate-punk tendencies they don't get any respect. You have to look past the fact that he was, at times, a dirtball and a junkie to see that Bradley was a journalist and poet and Southern Californian prophet. A definite inspiration.
I would recommend that you give a listen to the following tracks before our poll ends:
Don't Push - 40 oz. to Freedom
Badfish - 40 oz. to Freedom
40 oz. to Freedom - 40 oz. to Freedom
Pool Shark - Robbin' Da Hood
Greatest Hits - Robbin' Da Hood
STP - Robbin' Da Hood
Boss D.J. - Robbin' Da Hood
What I Got - Sublime
April 29th, 1992 - Sublime
Under My Voodoo - Sublime
Santeria - Sublime
Pawnshop - Sublime
You will be glad that you did. You can't leave Sublime out of the 90's equation.
PS - I made a great Sublime mix cd if you're interested in going a little deeper into the band's catalog.
Surgeon General's Warning: There is some explicit language on all of Sublime's records.