Song Saturday: Sublime Covers

For this week’s edition of Song Saturday, we’re featuring No Doubt’s stellar and popular covers of Sublime’s “DJs” and “Pawn Shop”.

No Doubt first worked and toured with Sublime in the early 90s and still continues to pay tribute to them, and the late Bradley Nowell, so many years later.

Tragically, Sublime lead singer, collaborator and close friend to No Doubt, Bradley Nowell, passed away from a fatal heroin overdose in May 1996. The first documented time that No Doubt incorporated Sublime’s “Pawn Shop” into their live set was in August of 1996. They mixed together their old school classic with Bradley sharing vocals, “Total Hate”, into a hypnotic medley ending with “Pawn Shop” with Gwen calling out his name. “Pawn Shop” is actually a cover of The Wailing Souls’s “War Deh Round A John Shop” which Sublime made it into their own with modified lyrics for their third and final album, Sublime, released in 1996. No Doubt continued to perform their “Total Hate/Pawn Shop” medley well into July 1997 during the Tragic Kingdom tour.

In honor of Bradley, the Enough Already benefit concert, held at the Hollywood Palladium on January 11, 1997, was headlined by No Doubt. The band debuted the night before in Pomona their phenomenal cover of “DJs”, which came from Sublime’s 40oz. To Freedom, a long time favorite album of No Doubt’s. The band brought so much energy and the best out of the song including incredible additional horn solos not found in the original. “DJs” became a staple on the Tragic Kingdom tour and was performed almost nightly in 1997. Some may recognize the catchy hook at the end is taken directly from of “A Message To You Rudy” by English ska legends, The Specials.

No Doubt’s live cover of “DJs” is featured on the amazing Look At All The Love We’ve Found: Tribute to Sublime. Released in 2005, the album features the high quality cover track live in Anaheim, California from 1997 (also found on No Doubt’s Live in the Tragic Kingdom DVD and video releases). An excerpt from Tony is also included in the liner notes about working with Bradley and his personal fond memories of their first album.

“DJs” has been incorporated into No Doubt’s live sets spanning the Tragic Kingdom, Rock Steady (mixed in with a reggae-fied version of “Start The Fire”) and most recently a few times on the band’s 2009 summer tour. It’s still a huge fan favorite and its easy to see the band still enjoys covering the song so many years later.


“Total Hate/Pawn Shop” live in Fairfax (1996)


“DJs” live in Hollywood(1997)


“Total Hate/Pawn Shop” live in Den Haag (1997)


“DJs” live in Anaheim (1997)


“DJs” live in Minneapolis (1997) Happy Now? single audio


“Start The Fire/DJs” live in Worcester (2002)


“DJs” live in Los Angeles (2009)

And as a bonus, check out Gwen and Tony talking about Bradley and working with him from Sublime’s VHS release Stories, Tales, Lies & Exaggerations.

Gwen and Tony visited the KROQ studios back on January 10, 1997 to promote the Enough Already Benefit in Hollywood.

5 Replies to “Song Saturday: Sublime Covers”

  1. It’s worth mentioning A Message To You Rudy by The Specials is incorporated into the song (DJs).

    Their final album is one of my favorites. Bradley was amazing. The Sublime With Rome stuff is so…wrong.

    The Minneapolis and Anaheim covers of DJs are my favorites.

    1. Yes! Thank you for reminding me. I forgot to add that in there!

      Sublime with Rome’s Yours Truly is actually a pretty solid album. I try not to associate them as “Sublime” per say and really enjoy most of their stuff. I saw them live too in 2010 and it was pretty surreal to hear Sublime’s old material live, which I never thought I would.

  2. I think their first tour was acceptable and kind of cool, but I agree with Bud that it went on for too long and just didn’t seem right after awhile. SWR is actually coming to my city next month and I was debating about seeing them, but I think I’ll pass…

  3. DJs was also released on a Happy Now? single. that’s when I first heard it. love it! thanks for all the background information.

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