The Beastie Boys – Check Your Head: Deluxe Edition (Capitol Records)


The Beastie Boys reissue campaign continues with 1992’s Check Your Head; wherein the New York trio began incorporating live instrumentation into their hip-hop stew. Sure, it had the beats, smart-assed rhymes and cultural in-jokes that Mike D, MCA and Ad Rock have made a career and a sizable fortune on, but there’s so much variety here that it sounds like a musical tour of New York City. There’s a sonic potpourri of hip-hop, funk, Latin, hardcore punk, classic rock, soul and psychedelia spread liberally throughout, with seemingly divergent styles often crossing paths within a single song. Clearly people like Beck and DJ Shadow were taking notes on classic Beastie songs like “Pass The Mic”, “So What’cha Want” and “Professor Booty”. Although the album is rightfully praised for its genre-blending and bold experimentation, the freewheeling attitude wears thin over twenty tracks, with a few too many half-hearted funk instrumentals and humorous interludes weighing it down. Had more judicious editing slimmed Check Your Head down to its best 12-15 tracks, it would have been flawless. There’s still a great album in there, it just might take a little skipping around to find it. Given the amount of filler found on the album proper, the Bonus Disc on this newly remastered edition is predictably dicey. There’s a remix of “So What’cha Want” by DJ Muggs which boasts a funkier beat and a sharp verse by B-Real, and there’s an excellent b-side called “The Skills To Pay The Bills”. Beyond those two songs lies a vast wasteland of lesser remixes, demos, concert tracks and b-sides which don’t do anything to enhance the Check Your Head experience, and probably won’t be listened to more than once.

Tracklisting:

Disc one:

“Jimmy James”

“Funky Boss”

“Pass The Mic”

“Gratitude”

“Lighten Up”

“Finger Lickin’ Good”

“So What’cha Want”

“The Biz Vs. The Nuge”

“Time For Livin'”

“Something’s Got To Give”

“The Blue Nun”

“Stand Together”

“Pow”

“The Maestro”

“Groove Holmes”

“Live At PJ’s”

“Mark On The Bus”

“Professor Booty”

“In 3’s”

Disc two:

“Dub The Mic” (Instrumental)

“Pass The Mic Pt. 2″

“Drunk Praying Mantis Style”

“Netty’s Girl”

“The Skills To Pay The Bills” (Original)

“So What’cha Want” (Soul Assasins Remix)

“So What’cha Want” (Butt Naked Version)

“Groove Holmes” (Live Vs. The Biz)

“So What’cha Want” (All The Way Live Freestyle)

“Stand Together” (Live at French’s Tavern)

“Finger Lickin’ Good” (Government Cheese)

“Gratitude” (Live at Budokan 9/17/92)

“Honky Rink”

“Jimmy James” (Original Original Version)

“Boomin’ Granny”

“Drinkin’ Wine”

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