More than five years after Bradley Nowell's fatal overdose, the spirit and voice of the Sublime singer are still filling the airwaves.
The Long Beach Dub Allstars, a collection of former Sublime members and collaborators, have scored a hit with their new single, "Sunny Hours," a "What I Got"-type summer anthem that samples a memorable Nowell line from the Sublime tune.
"I think it's hard for all of us to accept death, but it's part of life," keyboardist Jack Maness said earlier this month from his Long Beach, California, home. "We want to record with him again, and this is kind of our way to do it. His voice and his words on it are very moving. It's like he's right there singing with us."
Turntablist and percussionist Marshall Goodman said Allstars singer Opie Oritz, who sounds strikingly similar to Nowell, included the line "Let the lovin'/ Let the lovin' / Come back to me" as a tribute to the late singer when he wrote "Sunny Hours." Goodman then sampled Nowell's recording for the third time the lyrics appear in the song.
"I thought Brad's voice fit really well with the song, which definitely has the same sort of vibe as a lot of the stuff on the Sublime album," Goodman said. "When you hear him, even just a line or two, you are reminded how talented he was."
"Sunny Hours" appears twice on the Long Beach Dub Allstars' third album, Wonders of the World, due September 11. The radio version of the tune features Black Eyed Peas rapper Will.I.Am, while the "Sunny Hours Reprise" is a more musical version.
The single has provided new material to the many radio stations that still play Sublime in regular rotation.
"It's not 'What I Got,' but it's a great song," said Dave Richards, program director at the influential Q101 (WKQX-FM) in Chicago. "We love Sublime. We miss Sublime. And this LBDA tune is very much in the same tradition as Sublime. And it's just a great summer song."
Wonders of the World, which was produced by Butthole Surfers mastermind Paul Leary, features the same mix of dub, reggae, rock and hip-hop that carries all the Sublime and Allstars albums. Guests on the record include dancehall legends Half Pint and Tippa Irie, Jurassic 5 rapper Chali 2na, and trombonist Gabriel McNair, whose résumé includes recordings with No Doubt, the Offspring and Green Day.
"It's a powerful jambalaya of music," Maness said of the album. "We have the capability to produce ourselves," as they did for 1998's independently released Long Beach Dub Allstars and Friends and 1999's Right Back, which included the single "Trailer Ras," "but having someone with an unbiased opinion is really, really important. [Leary] puts everybody on the page, and he's appreciative of what you are trying to do. And you are trying to impress him because he is so good."
The Long Beach Dub Allstars, whose lineup also includes former Sublime bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh, along with vocalist/guitarist RAS-1 and saxophonist Tim Wu, will promote Wonders of the World with a fall tour, including the three Smoke Out dates (see "Busta, Deftones, Method Man To Smoke Out With Cypress Hill").
Long Beach Dub Allstars tour dates, according to the band's publicist:
- 9/9 - San Diego, CA @ Street Scene
- 9/11 - Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues
- 9/12 - Tempe, AZ @ Nita's Hideaway
- 9/13 - Tucson, AZ @ Tucson Convention Center
- 9/14 - Ventura, CA @ Ventura Theatre
- 9/16 - Portland, OR @ Roseland
- 9/17 - Tacoma, WA @ Temple
- 9/28 - Boston, MA @ Avalon
- 9/29 - Holmdel, NJ @ P.N.C. Bank Arts Center (Smoke Out)
- 9/30 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
- 10/1 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
- 10/2 - Norfolk, VA @ The Boathouse
- 10/6 - Devore, CA @ G.H. Blockbuster Pavilion (Smoke Out)
- 10/13 - Oakland, CA @ Network Associates Coliseum (Smoke Out)
- 10/14 - Charleston, SC @ Joe Riley Stadium (WAVF-FM radio festival)