Sublime's self titled album(sorry 40 oz of freedom didn't get in. I had to pick one, and though I like 40 oz more. The consensus seems to be this album)
Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Sublime's eponymous major-label debut arrived a few months after the band's leader, Brad Nowell, died tragically of a heroin overdose. As a show of sympathy, the album tended to be slightly overrated in some critical quarters, who claimed that Nowell was an exceptionally gifted lyricist and musical hybridist, but Sublime doesn't quite support those claims. The trio does have a surprising grace in its unabashedly traditionalist fusion of Californian hardcore punk, light hip-hop, and reggae. Switching between bracing hardcore and slow, sexy reggae numbers, Sublime display supple, muscular versatility and, on occasion, a gift for ingratiatingly catchy hooks, as on the hit single "What I Got." What they don't have is the vision -- either lyrical or musical -- to maintain interest throughout the course of the entire album. Sublime sags when the band delves too deeply into their dub aspirations or when their lyrics slide into smirking humor. The low moments don't arrive that often -- by and large, the album is quite engaging -- but they happen frequently enough to make the record a demonstration of the band's blossoming ability, but not the fulfillment of their full potential. Of course, Nowell's death gives the record a certain pathos, but that doesn't make the album any stronger.
Def Leppard's Hysteria
Review by Steve Huey
Where Pyromania had set the standard for polished, catchy pop-metal, Hysteria only upped the ante. Pyromania's slick, layered Mutt Lange production turned into a painstaking obsession with dense sonic detail on Hysteria, with the result that some critics dismissed the record as a stiff, mechanized pop sell-out (perhaps due in part to Rick Allen's new, partially electronic drum kit). But Def Leppard's music had always employed big, anthemic hooks, and few of the pop-metal bands who had hit the charts in the wake of Pyromania could compete with Leppard's sense of craft; certainly none had the pop songwriting savvy to produce seven chart singles from the same album, as the stunningly consistent Hysteria did. Joe Elliott's lyrics owe an obvious debt to his obsession with T. Rex, particularly on the playfully silly anthem "Pour Some Sugar on Me," and the British glam rock tribute "Rocket," while power ballads like "Love Bites" and the title track lack the histrionics or gooey sentimentality of many similar offerings. The strong pop hooks and "perfect"-sounding production of Hysteria may not appeal to die-hard heavy metal fans, but it isn't heavy metal -- it's pop-metal, and arguably the best pop-metal ever recorded. Its blockbuster success helped pave the way for a whole new second wave of hair metal bands, while proving that the late-'80s musical climate could also be very friendly to veteran hard rock acts, a lead many would follow in the next few years.