Sublime has always been a great band; becoming famous even as their frontman ceased to live. They released three albums in the duration of Brad Nowell's lifetime, and this one, 40 Oz. to Freedom, is IMO their best as well as the bands first. All legends have to start somewhere; and in this case, it was a few living rooms and a studio over in Long Beach, California. With a total of 22 tracks (21 of them being actual songs), this album has alot to give. It mixes elements of punk, hip-hop, and most easily noticed ska. Several other friends of the band played on this release, sporting instruments such as trombones, baritones, trumpets, congas, and even a bong (yes I know its not a real instrument).
In my eyes, this is not simply a good CD; its a collection. I can hardly name a mediocre song on here...Theres something for all kinds of tastes in music. Lots of the songs start with a slow bassline, soft acoustic guitars and simple but supporting drum beat. Then later on, the track can become extremly fast and catchy, quickly change back for a minute, then suddenly end. I don't know of any other band that could pull songs like that off. "We're Only Gonna Die For Our Arrogance" and "Ball and Chain" are easily two of the best examples of this style. Something on this album can sound like a real easy moving folk song, then burst into a pure ska-punk chorus. Its amazing.
After the first five or six tracks, you'll know that this is a long album...and a good one at that. With enough energy and catch in these songs, even a five and a half minute acoustic ballad from Brad won't see your finger on the skip button. You'll have it repeated over again, until you learn the lyrics. Then you'll repeat it again so you can sing along with it. "Badfish", "Lets Go Get Stoned", and "D.J.s" are all perfect songs in my opinion, and displays elements of all of that.
So the first half of the album is finished...Lots of well executed hip-hop-like vocals, occasional punkish tunes, and a boatload of catch. The end of this release hardly falls short of the other portion; many consider it to be the best songs on the CD. It really starts with "Chica me Tipo" (Remember 'Chick on my Tip' from SHS?), which is mainly driven by the instrumental; several horns played on that track. Here you listen to the stronger ska sounds of the album, like the pure riffs of "What Happened" and "Date Rape" (which by the way, was the first Sublime song discovered by major radio stations in 1995, three years after its release).
As 40 Oz. starts to wind down, you'll get to hear what Brad is very well-known for: excellent vocal display combined with his acoustic. This creates a very satisfying 'almost finished' feel; you don't want the album to end, but hell, 'I just listened to 20 tracks'. Sublime does this well and ends their debut on a good note with the amazing cover of 'Rivers of Babylon' (the track after RoB is a recording of Brad thanking everybody he felt helped produce the album).
As an overall score, this one deserves a 4.5. If it suffered anywhere, its in the sound quality...which doesn't bother me in the least bit, but to some people bad quality apparently means bad album.
A defenite buy: 40 Oz. to Freedom by Sublime
Guitar/Vocals: Brad Nowell
Bass: Eric Wilson
Drums: Bud Gaugh
Sampler/Vocals: Marshall Goodman