FDF Volume 1 Issue 34: The Beastie Boys - Check Your Head
Album - Check your Head
Artist - The Beastie Boys
Key Players - Michael Diamond (Mike D), Adam Horovitz (Adrock), Adam Yauch (MCA)
Produced By - Mario Cataldo Jnr and the Beastie Boys
Release Date: April 21, 1992
What caused me to blow off the dust? Not even really sure honestly. There were other "easier" picks from the Beasties to write up but this cd seemed to really grab me and call my attention to them in the first place.
Overview - This album came out three years after the (now) classic Paul's Boutique. The band had taken up playing their own instruments on the record as well as doing the usual hip/hop rapping. This cd is also a turning point for the "older/wiser" version of the Beastie Boys. Around this time the band would begin to take up world causes most notably "Free Tibet". The album would eventually go double platinum (2million + sold in USA)
FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The cd starts off with a sample from
Cheap Trick's Live at Bodokan. The rump shakin bass of Jimmy James set the tone both musically and lyrically for the record. The silliness of Pauls Boutique now a few years gone the band locks in to a solid direction. "Funky Boss" is the first track that has the listener hear what the band do with their own instruments. The band shines with solid jazz influenced riffs and bass progressions. "Pass the Mic" still a live show staple has that juicy fat bottom bass you can use to pump up in your car and roll the windows down to let the passersby know you have a kickin system. "Gratitude" fires off with a heavily distorted bass guitar and some conga drums. The band settles back to their very early punk rock roots on this track
"Ligthen Up" is a terrific track that showcases the bands musical prowess. Its heavy on the jazz fusion side and its something you'd swear you might have heard one time while sipping an overpriced drink at the latest trendy nightspot. "Finger Likin Good" is a really fun song to bob your head to. Dylan and Sly and the Family stone samples are used on the track and the name checks the band uses are great. Come on.."I got more spice that the Frugal gourmet"! That's gold. "So What'cha Want" was the lead off single for the record. It did not chart very well but the video helped solidify their name. The Biz vs. The Nug has rapper Biz Markie do the intro (did you just link over to Markies page?? you did didn't you?) and the sample is of course none other than Ted Nugent. Pretty easy song title to create one has to imagine. Its also one of those overly annoying "skits" that seem to have made it to every single rap album. Its 33 seconds long..and totally skippable. "Time for Livin" is really out of place on the record. Basically a full on punk rock song you have to wonder when the last track ended and this began. It sticks out, not like a sore thumb, but you'll wonder if your cd just shuffled off to another cd. "Something's Got to Give" is lyrically slow and their are heavy effects on the vocals. The vocal track would remind you of Led Zeppelins "No Quarter" with that warbled effect. "The Blue Nun" is another 32 second "skit. Skip it. "Stand Together" has always been a hidden gem of Beastie Boys tracks. If you own the cd, record, tape whatever, toss it one and wonder along with me why this song was never on commercial radio. "POW" is another fun live instrument track. If you are longing for more stuff like this check out The Insound from the Way Out. Great stuff (the track "Groove Holmes", as well as "In 3's" appear on that release as well). Fast forwarding to "Professor Booty" is another fun hidden Beasties gem. "Whats another word for Pirates treasure..boooooooooty boooty"
Where are they now? - The Beastie Boys are still at it. Their most recent release was the 2004 "To the Five Boroughs.
FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I have only seen the Beastie Boys live one time. That was August 3, 1994 as part of the Lollapaloosa Festival. The band is engaging live and do play their own instruments. The show was spoiled though due to some of the most horrific traffic ever trying to get to the venue.
FDF Overall Take - Over the years the novelty of the band has lessened which is both good and bad depending on your view. The band could have settled in to a groove and made campy, obnoxious and honestly, "typical" rap records. They chose not to do that. Starting with this record their voices and popularity soared to greater heights and they used their fame to call attention to causes that meant a lot to them. They organized a few benefit shows for their Free Tibet organization as well. For most Beastie Boy fans its easy to go with the frat rock "license to Ill" or some of the widely popular recent albums. Let this one sneak in under your radar one day, the overall reward worth it and you can hear a band a pivotal crossroad.