TITLE: Check Your Head
YEAR RELEASED: 1992
CHART ACTION: #10 US, #106 UK
SINGLES: Pass the Mic (#47 UK), So Whatcha Want (#93 US, #21 Alternative, #122 R&B), Jimmy James (#55 UK), Gratitude, Professor Booty, Something’s Got to Give
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Funky Boss, The Maestro
LINEUP: King Ad-Rock, MCA, Mike D, Money Mark Nishita. Mario Caldato produced. Biz Markie did a vocal, and various percussionists helped.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Beasties evolve again, adding their own instruments into their highly-sampled tracks.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Beastie Boys started as a punk band, back in the day, and even after they moved to hip-hop they still had a punk ethos. So after playing their own backing for a couple of tracks on Paul’s Boutique, they created more songs that utilized their own instruments on bass, guitar and drums. (MCA a/k/a Adam Yauch really loves to use pedal effects on his bass). Augmented by keyboardist Mark Nishita and other percussionists (congas and what not), the Beasties add a bit funk and Latin rhythms into their songs.
Meanwhile, they continued to experiment with sounds and samples, and while they weren’t as snotty and misanthropic as before, tracks like “So Whatcha Want” and “Pass the Mic” had plenty of their old attitude. And then, as the album winds down, “Namaste” shines a light on MCA’s journey to Buddhism and peace.
This is an ambitious project and encompasses quite a bit of musical territory. The number of instrumentals really shows the Beasties as serious about their musical chops. It’s not as fantastic as Paul’s Boutique but is impressive just the same.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Caldato was the third producer in three albums for the Beasties, though he did engineer quite a bit of Paul’s Boutique
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a Japanese version and then a big Deluxe version.
GRADE: A: It’s not Paul’s Boutique, but it’s still pretty fantastic.