1999, Music

Greatest Hits by Sublime (MCA 1999)

It’s impossible to judge a band by a compilation, especially something like a clearly arbitrary “greatest hits” comp, but even worse when the arbitrary comp is this short (it is unbelievably short). That being said, I will do it anyway.

If you went to a small liberal arts university in Canada in the early 2000s chances are you knew someone who loved Sublime. Chances are most guys around you at least professed a love of Sublime, even if they didn’t demonstrate it by owning their CDs.

At my school, there were certain bands that all males were expected to love: the DMB, Sublime and, depending on your crowd, one or two others. These were almost the mainstream of the underground if you will (not that either band was very underground; perhaps the dominant part of the sub-culture; I don’t know). It was simply established that they were likable and you should like them. So naturally, I paid them no attention.

It has taken me a decade to give them a chance. What do I find? I find that though this band was clearly composed of some talented musicians, there’s a lot lacking. The lyrics aren’t great (the appeal to 19 year old boys is clear) and sometimes they harp on the same themes too much. The musicians are good for their scene, but not as quite as awesome as they claim in song. They have a rangy quality that reminds me of another ’90s staple. I am going to make a strange comparison. Bear with me.

Sublime are, in some ways, Mr. Bungle-lite (or ultra-lite). They both seem to have evolved from ska bands. They were both composed of relatively talented musicians and were interested in breaking down conventions and boundaries. Only Sublime are interested in playing about 1/5th of the genres Bungle play, they aren’t as capable on their axes, they are far too earnest (no one would ever accuse Bungle of being earnest), and they could never escape from the catchy tune.

Other than that, perhaps they were embarked on similar projects. The results aren’t really similar though.


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