Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Witzard Presents: Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique 30th Anniversary All-around Breakdown, Part I (PB30 "Side A")


"Yo, whassup with de Beasties??!!
What gives, they split to Rio or

Yeah, yeah, everyone's favorite B
(for Beastie) Boys have taken their
time getting new vinyl out. But I am
here to tell you that the time has
c o m e t o q u i t y e r j o n e s i n ' ,
cause...dum dum dum...IT'S HERE.

So this new records oughta blow away any speculations and/or misconceptions surrounding the Beastie Boys. It's called Paul's Boutique, and it's coming out on Capitol Records -- the Beastie's brand new label. The LP is named after a men's store in Brooklyn whose low-tech radio ad -- phone number and all -- is sampled right into the LP.

The album should hit sometime around mid-July. The first 12", featuring the Boys' upstanding anthem "Hey Ladies," will drop June 30th. The sleeve picture for the 12" was done in the King's kitchen (King Ad-Rock, that is) and features his dope interior design wizardry which crosses the nation's flag with -- what else -- three naked young women. The LP cover features a 360-degree shot of Ludlow Street in fashionable Brooklyn, and we're told the accompanying packaging will be unlike anything that's been

- 1989 Capitol Records, Inc. (@CutChemist)

01. "To All The Girls" By: Jesse Dangerously (Danger Grove, The Library Steps)

"Let me strive to keep this brief and focused and all on just one-track, much like the intro joint in question... I'm hearing Marky Mark [& The Funky Bunch]'s "Good Vibrations" at the little bakery I sometimes grab lunch at, while I write this and it puts me in [the mindset] that one thing you can always say for the Beastie Boys, when you're weighing their souls against a feather to see, if they belong in paradise or your personal pantheon, is that unlike SOME white rappers of more or less their same vintage... they never did any racist hate crimes that left a Vietnamese man with permanent damage to his vision.

It's not the nicest thing there is to say about them and it's a pretty low bar to clear. But in their early days, I think, clearing a low bar is what kept them just this side of candidacy for retrospective cancellation. If they had remained the snotty boys they were on Licensed to Ill, there would be very little to remember them for, besides introducing LL [Cool J] to Rick Rubin and filling an uncomfortable and unlovely gap between early Run-D.M.C. and early N.W.A.

They weren't the first male musicians to be disrespectful to women and they weren't the first (or the most significant) Hip-Hop artists to flip it around and be pointedly respectful to women when no one was even asking. "To All The Girls" catches them mid-pivot, somewhere between the casual unthinking sexism they probably still thought was pretty funny and the ardent pro-feminist bros they strove to be later. OK, we'll say that meandering first bit is kind of like the long, slow fade, before they picked the needle back up off "Loran's Dance" and dropped it again near the top.

When John Book invited me to participate in his 10-year anniversary tribute album, I asked for "To All The Girls." I was 18, I was very sensitive, I had just scored a 7-inch of [Idris Muhammad's] "Loran's Dance" from a bin in Taz Records in Halifax and I wanted to treat it more like a sample and chop it up a bit. I thought there was some missed potential in the original arrangement (i.e. no arrangement; the one-track jack.) I didn't know how precious sample time had been in 1989, but I expected a lot from those Brothers of Dust. I wanted to be like them.

I went plunderphonic and tried to scratch in bits of other records that listed "all the girls:" "Mambo No.5 (A Little Bit of...)" "Just A Friend," Spın̈al Tap, a little Fresh Prince, a little Wu-Tang Clan, a little The Beatles. I tracked the samples in Impulse Tracker 2.14, a DOS music program that was not intended for loops and phrases, and I Frankenstein'ed it all together on my PortaStudio.

I, also, wanted to dedicate it "to all the girls." I didn't know quite how to talk about that. Thank goodness I didn't write a verse. I just pitched my voice up for some reason and said "to all the girls on The Internet... I love you." That's the part that makes me cringe now, but it is, at least, true to the source material in being somewhat earnest and poorly thought through.

What does it even mean for something to be dedicated "to all the girls?" Does it still count as well-intended, if it uses weird language like "to all the Oriental girls" in its brief duration? Why are stewardesses the only profession singled out? It's clumsy.

But it's gentle, if only until the drum fill kicks in for the next joint and gentleness was a new texture for them and for that moment, they were right on the ground floor of gentleness and soft-spoken intonation spreading throughout Hip-Hop in a wave of meditative Jazz samples and voices in lower registers.

The spell only lasts a moment. They f**k it up almost right away, but it's a refreshing start every time I return to this record. It clears the decks. Probably fine to listen to the Idris Muhammad record, though, if you want to chill for more than a few seconds."

02. "Shake Your Rump" By: John Bachman (Jumbled)

"Overall, "Shake Your Rump" is a pretty simple song (compared to other Dust Brothers tracks)—Ronnie Laws' guitar sample, drum loops, and a Rose Royce bassline for the hook. After a subtle intro, they come out guns blazing on their sophomore debut. As I get deeper into the BEASTIE BOYS BOOK, it was interesting (and somewhat confusing) to hear how they got so big, toured with Madonna, then, essentially, got f**ked over by Def Jam & Rick Rubin. Giving homage to Fred Flinstone, Sam The Butcher, and The Sugarhill Gang all in a 3-minute track—they finish each other's rhymes in true Beasties fashion. The track flows seamlessly into "Johnny Ryall," which sets the tone for the rest of the album. I bought Licensed to Ill in 1987, but didn't hear Paul's Boutique until seven or eight years after it came out (probably due to little to no radio play.) As a beat-maker, I would kill to be a fly-on-the-wall in that apartment, when they were collaborating on these tracks."

03. "Johnny Ryall" By: Pecue (Pecue Design)

"My relationship with this song has evolved over the years. Before I started making beats and studying other producers, I wasn't a big fan of "Johnny Ryall" at all. The David Bromberg sample for the main riff wasn't really hitting for me and the song itself falls between "Shake Your Rump" and "Egg Man," which are two of my favorites—so, this, actually, got fast-forwarded a lot, when I was younger. The only thing that grabbed me early on were the lyrics and story about Johnny Ryall. I always liked how The Beasties gave little glimpses of their world and, basically, immortalized the people that they ran into throughout their day. My neighborhood in West Philly had a lot of crazy characters, so I could relate here.

In recent years, I've come to appreciate the song a lot more now that I know how much went into it. The change-ups on the drums and melodies are always great on all the Paul's Boutique records, but I'm amazed at the care and attention to detail it took to put in the small things, like the Pink Floyd "wind sample" that can pretty much go unnoticed, if you don't have [a] keen ear. It just speaks to the dedication of The Dust Brothers and what The Beasties carried on, as their sound evolved on the next few albums."

04. "Egg Man" By: Dan LeRoy (The Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique 33 1/3, For Whom The Cowbell Tolls: 25 Years of Paul's Boutique, The Greatest Music Never Sold)

"'Consider, for a moment, the humble egg, "the symbol of life." Some people call it Nature's perfect food. In fact, it is more than that. It is Nature's perfect explosive. Lest you think me completely uncouth, I am the son of a former high school principal. I know what eggings look (and smell) like from the victim's perspective. I know how much fun it is to clean them off a rusting 1974 Vega in the heat of July. Focusing on those humbling moments in my own egging history, however, would be to miss the forest for the trees. Or, perhaps, to miss the egg for the chicken. An egg is cheap, portable, non-toxic and non-lethal, made to be tossed in an onslaught of poultry power, and yet, under the right circumstances, equally devastating when heaved solo. Like, for example, if you tossed them from the roof of a very expensive hotel. Like, say, The Mondrian, in Los Angeles. Like, say, The Beastie Boys & Dust Brothers did, during the making of Paul's Boutique.

I remember Tim Carr, the band's late, great A&R man during this era, relating with awe how those eggs "hit like boulders" when they landed on the cars and heads of people lined up to get into The Comedy Store across the street. I remember Mike Simpson of The Dust Brothers giggling helplessly as he recounted these shenanigans, as well as the contents of a very "politically-correct" letter the Mondrian staff sent The Beasties, politely offering to help with the persistent problem of things falling out The Beasties' windows. (That letter, by the way, was just recently unearthed.) I remember the brilliant artist Eric Haze reliving an unnerving ambush by an apparent gang of rival eggers, late one night in front of a phone booth on Melrose Avenue.

And I remember Mike D, who knows better now than to say he didn't know better then, laughing in spite of himself at the memory of The Beasties' egging sprees in those carefree days, on Capitol Records' dime. (You can read all about it in my 33 1/3 book about Paul's Boutique, and a little more in For Whom The Cowbell Tolls, which I wrote with Peter Relic.)

Those escapades inspired a song, of course, "Egg Man," and in a lot of ways, it's the closest link on Paul's Boutique to The Beastie Boys of Licensed to Ill—an album which The Beasties have enjoyed such a tortured relationship with over the years that you can plausibly entertain certain conspiracy theories about its masters "going missing."

"Egg Man" is not like The Beasties' debut musically, of course. On this song, Mike Simpson & John King create one of The Dust Brothers' most sophisticated collages—a Blaxploitation homage that mashes up "Superfly," Lightnin' Rod, and Tower of Power into a should've-been 70's smash. The cherry on top is the "stabbing" string hits from Psycho, which make me imagine some long-haired rocker from The Guitar Institute, exiting the building with his axe and frozen in terror as The Beasties & Co. barrel towards him in their macked-out Lincoln Continental, firing egg after egg through the sunroof.

No, it's the spirit of the song, reflected in the proposed idea of a Beasties Egg Gun, certainly one of the 10 Inventions The World Has Tragically Been Deprived of to This Point In History. That spirit is something a 13 or 14-year-old prospective egger would appreciate, just as he (presumably "he," though, I know the history of egging, when it's written, will include some distinguished female participants) appreciated the big, dirty middle finger of Licensed to Ill.

Sometimes, I think The Beasties, who grew up in New York and then moved to LA, don't—can't—really understand how important a record Licensed to Ill (LTI) was to their fans in flyover country. They weren't all frat boys; for a lot of people, LTI was as close to Punk Rock as we were likely to get. In the discouraging heyday of Van Hagar & Whitney Houston, in a digitally-produced Dark Age, well before Hip-Hop had become respectable, The Beasties, somehow, took their big beats and Zeppelin swipes and nose-picking aesthetic to Number One! And every time they apologize for it, it's a little like, I don't know, the ghost of Joe Strummer suddenly materializing to walk back "that whole 1977 thing."

In fact, the weakest moment by far in "Egg Man" comes when The Beasties try to justify the song (and, by extension, the eggings.) "You made the mistake / You judge a man by his race / You go through life with egg on your face." OK, c'mon, man. That's like trying to say—after you were caught, of course—that you egged all the houses in your neighborhood because the people who live there don't support a minimum wage hike. Nobody believes that, including the person who said it. (And nobody ever did, unless, they were a wannabe Antifa member.)

Eggings aren't about overthrowing Trump or smashing the patriarchy or protecting the rights of your favorite endangered salamander. They're about eggs. Specifically, the thrill that a dollar carton of eggs (at least that's what they cost back [then]) can provide, when you can't yet drive and there's absolutely nothing happening in your little town because absolutely nothing ever does happen in your little town. Until you make a quick trip to the local Dairy Mart.

As Mike D said, some years ago, to allege that The Beasties had some sort of political agenda when writing the lyrics to Paul's Boutique is "giving us way too much credit." That's a brave and honest admission, because I can think of other musicians who would have claimed otherwise.So, consider "Egg Man" more than just a song about musical sophistication or residual crudity. It's an unapologetic whiff of Licensed to Ill, wafting from the wine-and-weed-infused patchwork of Paul's Boutique.

It smells a little like eggs, like those hard boiled eggs you get at a convenience store, and then, you open them in the car and everyone gags for a minute and demands, incredulous at your thoughtlessness, "why are you eating those in here? What is wrong with you?" Go ahead and eat 'em. And throw 'em. Carefully.

(Disclaimer: 1. Eggings have been in the news lately, as the source of a couple of tragedies. Just like you don't put rocks in snowballs, you don't try to hit someone in the face with an egg. 2. You don't chase someone who eggs your car, in your car. These events run counter to the ethos of egging.)

And if a little egg gets on you, as it always will, I think The Beasties gave us the best, and most practical, advice: "Here's a towel / Now, wipe." Dan LeRoy is the author of two books about Paul's Boutique, plus, The Greatest Music Never Sold, now on sale for a mere $5.90 at Amazon!"

05. "High Plains Drifter" By: Paolo Gilli (Paul's Boutique - A Visual Companion, NoSkillsPhotography)

"On a record full of outstanding tracks, "High Plains Drifter" is probably one of the best and that's already saying a lot. The beat, given the immense amount of samples used on Paul's Boutique, is, actually, pretty straight-forward and simple. It mainly uses a large part of The Eagles' "Those Shoes" and adds a slowed down moaning from "Put Your Love (In My Tender Care)" by The Fatback Band, delivering it's coup de grâce, courtesy of Adam Horovitz's 808 drum machine, which ties the whole thing together.

The result is a slow and [moody]—sometimes, even eerie—beat, that offers The Beasties a perfect playground to create one of their lyrical [masterpieces.] First of all, it's the most cinematic track on the whole record. That's the element that caught my attention first, when the album came out. I've been a huge movie geek, since I was a kid, watching Westerns with my dad (and he, quizzing me about the actors,) so the title—named after the Clint Eastwood film of the same name—immediately [piqued my interest]. Also, the references on the track abound, from Dirty Harry, Taxi Driver, and Steve McQueen to car chase exploitation jewel Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, and even The Larry Griffith Show.

Especially, this last one is a dead giveaway for the fact that "High Plains Drifter" is not at all—as some reviewers pointed out at the time—a True Crime depiction. Instead, this is a pure cinematic tale, that manages to paint a vivid story of a low-life criminal. The detailed description does not make it more realistic (in the sense of Gangsta Rap that is,) but just even more movie-like.

Obviously, this being The Beasties, the humor is an integral part of the track. That humor that got so distorted in the end on Licensed to Ill, works perfectly on Paul's Boutique. But where The Beasties really knock it out of the park is the delivery. This is some intricate sh*t, believe me. The moderate tempo of the track allows them to go totally nuts with their pick-up and pass the rhyme technique, often splitting one line in three and complementing each other on the verses perfectly. What makes the thing even more hypnotic is the constant overlapping on the rhymes. This is fluid wordplay as good as it gets. Go and listen to the track, with earphones, RIGHT NOW. It's [absolutely] mind-blowing. The Dust Brothers went full Robert Altman/Nashville with the vocals on this one."

06. "The Sounds of Science" By: Nate LeBlanc (Dad Bod Rap Pod, Needle to The Groove Records)

"If Paul's Boutique is The Beasties' Abbey Road (and I will say that they are both albums with primarily blue covers named after real places in major metropolitan cities that end in medleys of shorter song snippets) then, "The Sounds of Science" ("SoS") provides the clearest link between The Beatles & Beasties from a musical perspective. "SoS" is really two songs. In the first minute or so, The Boys free-associate vaguely "scientific" lines over descending notes based on odd interstitial moments from Beatles recordings, like the plane sound on "Dear Prudence" and the orchestra tuning on Sgt. Pepper's.

In the second half, Mike & The Adams go harder, shout-rapping in unison over the riff that sums up Abbey Road's "The End" and the drums from "Sgt. Pepper's [Lonely Hearts Club Band] Reprise," which are probably the best and most open drums from The Beatles' catalog from a Hip-Hop perspective. As a teenager, I was obsessed with The Beatles and [worshiped] The Beasties, especially, Paul's Boutique. The Beasties' constant allusions and references to other music and Pop culture ephemera taught me so much, helped me build my record collection, and frankly, made me a better person. To have them come together like this through a reverent act of sampling and homage blew my mind, at the time; something that wouldn't happen again, until a few years later when MF Grimm & MF DOOM lifted the strings from "Glass Onion" for "Tick Tick.'"

07. "3-Minute Rule" By: Height Keech (Cold Rhymes Records, Shark Tank, Height with Friends)

"I was walking home from middle school when a Goth girl came up to me and said it was her first day at our school. I was coming with this major dork style and had trouble talking to gals, but she was like, "hey, what's up with you? What do you like to do?" She said she was from NYC and that she went to raves. Was this 7th grader really going to raves in NYC? I don't know... I told her I could rap. She said, "well, do a rap now." I quickly scanned my 7th grade brain for these 7th grade bars and I panicked.

I just couldn't bring myself to spit these Mickey Mouse lyrics, so I launched into Mike D's verse from this song. She gave me props, and I reveled in the stolen valor. I had this verse ready to go because I was obsessed with it. I wrote it down on paper over and over just to feel like I was writing it myself. Everything about this song rules. I would go into detail, but we all know what it sounds like. It was cool to learn later that the crazy panned ping-pong ball sound was not a sample, but from an actual ping-pong table they brought into the studio. There’s probably 1,000 secrets like that on this magical album."

08. "Hey Ladies" By: Joshua Rogers (Illuminated Paths, Broken Machine Films Presents...)

"very much in the same vein as "girls," "HEY LADIES," this once totally over-played beastie boys staple, has risen to the ranks of being one of their most popular. i must admit, it was one of the first beastie boys videos i remember catching as a youth late nights on the mtv. the track and subsequent video's symbolism are quite mesmerizing and catchy. sets that beasties tone for their new audiences. but whereas "girls" these days might be considered dancing the line of almost sexist, "HEY LADIES" has more of a story-telling party style feel. the stories being told throughout have a real ring of truth to them, as do most beasties lyrics. they tell it from the heart and from experience. always looking to push that envelope, however. be risque. memorable. yet still keep a level of [likability] and an air of light-hearted rimming. never taking themselves and what they do that seriously."



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