College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1996, 56 and 55

56. Sublime, Sublime

The third album from the Long Beach, California band Sublime was originally titled Killin’ It. Then lead singer Bradley Nowell died of a heroin overdose at the age of twenty-eight, approximately two months before the album’s release. The death came about a week after his wedding to Troy Dendekker and at the beginning of a tour intended to start building buzz for the band’s major label debut. MCA Records considered scrapping the album release altogether, but finally decided with the band that they would simply change the title, making it into an eponymous effort. Perhaps helped by the tragic backstory, the album became a major success, selling over six million copies to date and yielding several radio hits. As opposed to the retroactive morbidity that could be found in every song Kurt Cobain ever sang on, the material on Sublime had a darkness to it (one of the hits is about a teenage prostitute) but is more defined by its genial, ska-tinged music. No one was finding the secret to Nowell’s end on these songs. The album also became a hit without the typical touring support of the band, as they decided it wasn’t appropriate to continue on without Nowell. The group disbanded, although there were enough further releases dredged up from the archives to outnumber the Sublime albums specifically made during Nowell’s lifetime. Eventually all bands must find a way to reunite, though, and thus they’ve been recording and performing with new lead singer Rome Ramirez under the name Sublime with Rome since 2009.

55. Citizen King, Count the Days

Dairy rock! The on-air staff at 90FM had (and have) an admirable commitment to those bands that, like those driving to the station for their shifts, have an “America’s Dairyland” license plate affixed to their vehicle. Citizen King hailed from Milwaukee, played an amped up, party-friendly music that drew comparisons to the likes of Fishbone (although their sound strikes me as more controlled than that which emanated from the “Bonin’ in the Boneyard” chaps). Speech from the band Arrested Development–at a time when the success of his band’s debut album was still recent enough that he had some industry influence–heard talk of their raucous live show and offered to produce some tracks on Citizen King’s 1995 debut, Brown Bag LP. The following year, Citizen King came out with the EP Count the Days, which would be their last release before being signed to Warner Bros., the majorest of major labels. During their brief tenure there, the heavy clout of the label’s promotion department helped snare Citizen King a Top 40 hit. The group broke up in 2002.

An Introduction
–90 and 89: Antichrist Superstar and Three Snakes and One Charm
–88 and 87: No Code and Unplugged
–86 and 85: Greatest Hits Live and Gilded Stars and Zealous Hearts
–84 and 83: To the Faithful Departed and God’s Good Urges
–82 and 81: Billy Breathes and Sweet F.A.
–80 and 79: The Process and Test for Echo
–78 and 77: Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds and Breathe
–76 and 75: Bob Mould and Walking Wounded
–74 and 73: It’s Martini Time and Trainspotting soundtrack
–72 and 71: Aloha Via Satellite and Fever In Fever Out
–70 and 69: Hi My Name is Jonny and One Mississippi
–68 and 67: Everything Sucks and The Aeroplane Flies High
–66 and 65: First Band on the Moon and Razorblade Suitcase
–64 and 63: Comic Book Whore and Peachfuzz
–62 and 61: All Change and Rude Awakening
–60 and 59: 12 Golden Country Greats and Songs in the Key of X
–58 and 57: Brain Candy soundtrack and Pinkerton

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