This month we’re going to dig a little deeper into Sublime’s “Robbin’ the Hood.”
Released in 1994, the album runs just a little over an hour and is concept work for a lot of Sublime’s later songs. This album was self-produced in Long Beach, California, with guest appearance by Raleigh Theodore Sakers, and it’s noted for its low production quality and experimental nature. With 23 songs, Sublime blends melodies and lyrics from a variety of different songs and genres, from Smokey Robinson to The Doors.
Some of the highlights of this album include a couple cover songs, some concept work for later productions, and of course Raleigh Saker’s rants.
“Steppin’ Razor,” originally written by Joe Higgs and recorded by Peter Tosh, was one of these covers. The Sublime version experimented with the original melody, twisting it to fit their classic ska/reggae punk sound, and even blends in part’s of Steely Dan’s “Do It Again.”
Also notable is Sublime’s cover of “Falling Idols,” originally written and produced by Falling Idols, a lesser known band from the 90s punk era.
My three favorite songs from this album are “STP,” “Cisco Kid,” and “All You Need.”
“STP” starts with a clip from Raleigh Saker’s rant, and moves into a mid-paced, catchy tune, with emphasis on the classic reggae sound and heavy bass. The last 25 seconds are lyrics from “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles:
“Maybe you’ll wanna give me kisses sweet
But only for one night with no repeat.
And maybe you’ll go away and never call,
And a taste of honey is worse that none at all.”
“Cisco Kid” is genius in the layering of two separate melodies (“Introduction” by Guru, and “When the Music Stops” by the Doors) along with inserted clips from the 1950s show “The Cisco Kid.” The blending of these creates an almost unforgettable beat.
“All You Need” pulls lyrics from the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s song “Fight Like a Brave” and exemplifies Sublime’s fast-paced, reggae punk style. This song also showcase’s lead singer Bradley Nowell’s rough and unique voice, and the group’s knack for storytelling through their lyrics.
Now, this album features a couple mostly instrumental pieces, including “Lincoln Highway Dub,” which features a brief spoken introduction. This particular song was experimental piece and laid the foundation for the group’s later hit “Santeria.” In fact, much of the album served as concept work for later albums.
The last notable aspect of this album is the incorporation of different clips from Raleigh Theodore Sakers’ half-hour rant. Cut up into three different songs (you can listen to the whole rant on youtube), the rant features Sakers switching from pretending to be a god, to working on a science fiction magazine, to singing his version of “You Don’t Know What Love Is” (until you’ve learned the meaning of the blues), and finally calling the police on Bradley Nowell and the Band.
The whole album can be found here on Spotify.