Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Beastie Boys - Check Your Head (1992)

Now that the happy from the holidays has been inevitably forgotten, I'm going to get back on the horse and plow and finally post something of mellifluous magnitude. I just looked at the stat counter at the bottoms and noticed many people have been knocking at my door to read the same drivel day-in, day-out without something new to entice them. Meanwhile, behind the facade of an innocent looking bookstore, a certain group of irreverent gentleman nigh on the heels of their neglected Paul's Boutique, came roaring from the ashes of the current music scene (then 1992) with yet another pilfered offering of samples and sounds, and a bit of their self-possessed attitude. Check Your Head is an iffy, irascible assault on the ears, at once familiar and yet still different -- but don't rush to judgment just because I'm not a hip-hop connoisseur; these fellows are famous for a reason, and if "So What'cha Want" doesn't get your attention, I don't know what will. There's a bit of everything here: punk, funk, rap, soul and silliness; but at the end of the day, this isn't the best thing since sliced bread, and had they not had the abundance of samples to use, they would have been like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest -- which is partially why I can't stomach hip-hop: too much sampling. Same with the blues as well as covers that replace original content. So if you want to hear Biz Markie rapping the Beastie Boys name for thirty seconds to the guitar of Nugent's "Homebound" -- it's your cake and you can eat it however you like. But please, cash your chips elsewhere. An exemplary C. And yes, I received permission to sample the clichés.


bob_vinyl said...

Samples can be a crutch to be sure. Hip-hop went from using them as instruments in their own right to using them as the basis of their songs and that's my biggest complaint. The Beastie Boys however are not guilty of this. They dig deep across a broad field of musical knowledge to find their samples and they use those in the same way that a traditional rock band uses a guitar. It's true that the songs wouldn't be the same without the tidbits they've lifted from here and there, but rock without guitars is, in most cases, just Muzak.

The Mad Hatter said...

Good point. It's the reason I have all of their albums and not others -- since it seems sampling as the basis for a song is the norm now. Some Beastie songs, though, I can't stomach because there are simply too many samples, and that's not counting the ones I don't know. That and I don't care much for rapping, just soul/funk/punk. Something I didn't mention in the post is that I respect that they can play their own instruments and that their musical knowledge is fairly formidable considering their tastes.

RAHM said...

hip hop is not my favourite rhythm, but I find that the music from Beastie Boys is some of the best of that rhythm..
I like "So What'cha Want", I had the opportunity to see them here in Santiago about a year ago, and it was a great perfomance, when they played "Sabotage" the people got crazy..

Master Cianan said...

Feh. As good as these guys are in their techniques, which is damn good, they still somehow... fucking suck.
Gotta love 'em for their videos, be it jumping around tokyo in plush animal suits or breaking into castles to steal the count's recipe for fondue, but the music is always awful. Well-done, but still awful. sorry guys.

bob_vinyl said...

Master Cianan, you might have a personal preference for stupid bar bands that never innovate and have no soul (see your AC/DC - Back in Black comment), but to come out and say the Beastie Boys, whose innovation, influence and sheer ability to rock far exceeds AC/DC's, are "well done, but still awful" just shows that you would like to pass off your own musical short-sightedness as fact. If you can't tell that the Beastie Boys are far superior to AC/DC (particularly in the Brian "I can't sing to save my life" Johnson era), you must be deaf.

The Mad Hatter said...

Wowzas, no fights please. Joyous stupid fun, no hostility.


That's crazy. The Beasties better than AC/DC, even the Bon Scott era? No way, man. As innovative as they were -- here comes my rock bias -- nothing beats a bar band with a ton of great licks, especially when it's Grade A Angus Beef. I guess since we have different opinions on Back In Black, we'll never quite see eye to eye, but Brian Johnson is no better a singer than Ozzy Osbourne, but that doesn't mean he didn't fit in where he could. Sabbath is phenomenal, and had they a better singer, they probably wouldn't have been as great a band.

Master Cianan,

I think I understand where you're coming from. Mariah Carey has a technically superior voice to just about 99.9% of the world -- ever, and I admire virtuosity as such. But she still sucks. Bad lyrics, bad music; it's not my thing, really. But she can sing. And the Beasties are some truly creative mofos; it just doesn't do it for me most of the time.