28. The Beastie Boys – “Check your Head”

Given the opportunity, a litany of ill-qualified folks will grab musical instruments and play at being rock stars.  Be they cricketers, tennis players, politicians, talkshow hosts or actors, the siren call of the guitar, bass and drums is irresistible.  It seems rappers may not be immune to this inclination.

beastie-boys-check-your-head-album-coverThis third album from the Beasties sees them strap on the instruments and acting like a real band.  Thankfully they aren’t as amateurish as most, and are capable on playing jazzy, funky and punky.  And I’m sure it was a hell of a lot of fun. 

Unfortunately, the trio do not deliver as many killer vocal-based tracks. So What’cha Want , Finger Lickin’ Good and Pass the Mic are the standouts. The other rapping efforts are pretty disappointing.  It is the instrumental jazz-funk tracks which save the album from being a write-off. Most of them will reappear again on another more coherent release (to be reviewed here in the coming days).

OK Boys, time to put the instruments back away now.  They make it too hard to dance anyway.

File under: Indulgent and inconsistent

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3 responses to “28. The Beastie Boys – “Check your Head”

  1. Unrelenting Tedium

    Well well Andre…we finally diverge. This album stands as their peak. Everything leads up to it and the subsequent releases peter out (just in case you didn’t know what a peak was) . For mine their rapping on everything after illcommunication becomes repetative and dull. This albums is the three dudes bursting with creativity. Hello Nasty and To the five boroughs are tired old men on auto-pilot. They never topped Watcha Want or Gratitude.

    I guess it comes down to the fact that my preference is for real instruments. It is why rap never translates live…it’s just inferior shouting over a backing tape. Try the inspired Live at PJs on this album and compare it to a live release by another rap artist…hold on…that’s right, rap artists don’t do live releases!!! Seeing these dudes on the Check Your Head tour at the Palace was to see a real band in their prime.

    Also you leave aside the fact that they were a band first (I’m not sure if you are going to reveiw Some Old Bullshit) and then a frat boy rap ensemble.

    These days they seem to be in a position where you are not allowed to say their albums are rubbish…but their later albums are rubbish (in my not so humble opinion obviously).

  2. What it means to be D

    I guess I’m with Tedium on this one. The band said it was like their “last cigarette” after Paul’s Boutique bombed so they have a focus that wasn’t there before but the playing is really free. There were a punk band first and they really can play by this point. Plus you’ve got Money Mark on the keyboards – it doesn’t get much funkier than that. I like Paul’s too but I prefer Check Yr Head and it’s usually higher up in best album polls here in the UK.

  3. You have just panned a great album and have totally missed the point of the album. the fact that the beasties can play instruments is enough to place them in another league to other rap outfits gees would kanye west play an instrument bloody hell he cannot even rap. you need to listen again and also listen to more metal.

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