Download Central: The Reggae Rajas

  • Sanjoy Narayan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 30, 2016 19:03 IST
Of delightful metamorphoses: Sublime may have had a short run when lead singer Brad Nowell (above) died of a drug overdose at the age of 28, but their albums (below), compilations and a box set still find loyal takers. (Getty Images)

The first time I heard Sublime, the band had already broken up and its talented lead singer, driving force and the man who can be credited for the band, its sound, and its essence, Brad Nowell, was already dead. And, as it happened, the first song by Sublime that I heard and that made me sit up and take notice of the band was not even (well, not fully as we shall see in just a bit) written by the band. It was Scarlet Begonias, originally written in 1974 by Robert Hunter (words) and Jerry Garcia (music) for the Grateful Dead.

As a long-time Deadhead, I instantly took note, especially because Nowell had added a verse or two to give the song a nice and edgy twist. In the Sublime version of the song – I’d highly recommend Deadheads who haven’t to listen to it – Nowell references the “Summer of Love”, a “microbus”, a hippy lifestyle that involves a bit of dealing in mushroom, ecstasy, nitrous oxide and sundry other, um, psychotropic substances, as well as a not-so-happy brush with the law. As a bonus, the band also sampled James Brown’s Funky Drummer on the song. That was enough to hook me.

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