Tuesday, April 21, 2009

17 Years Ago Today: Beastie Boys release 'Check Your Head'...

'Check Your Head' is the third album by the Beastie Boys, released on April 21, 1992. Three years elapsed between the release of the band's second album, 'Paul's Boutique' and their recording of this album, which occurred at the G-Son Studios in Atwater Village, California in 1991. The album features the popular hits "So Whatcha Want" and "Pass the Mic"; the music videos for both songs are available on the Criterion Collection Beastie Boys Video Anthology DVD set. The album was re-released in 2009 in a number of formats and featured 16 b-sides and rarities as well as a commentary track.


In contrast to their previous album, 'Paul's Boutique', the Boys returned stylistically to their punk rock roots on 'Check Your Head', playing their own instruments for the first time on record since their early EP's (although they did provide live instrumentation on at least two songs on 'Paul's Boutique'). Hence photographer Glen E. Friedman's idea to shoot photos with their instrument cases (one of which became the cover). The cover itself is a subtle depiction of the famous Three Wise Monkeys: "See No Evil," "Hear No Evil," and "Speak No Evil." (This theme is revisited in the lyrics of "Finger Lickin' Good.") The album was their first to be fully produced by Mario Caldato Jr. Caldato was an engineer on 'Paul's Boutique' and was credited as producer on that album's track "Ask for Janice."

There's been some debate about the Dutch band Urban Dance Squad, who had toured the United States with Living Colour in early 1991, influencing the Beastie Boys to play live instruments again; as the Beastie's earlier hardcore style bears little resemblance to the style they play on 'Check Your Head'. The Urban Dance Squad album, 'Life 'n Perspectives' of a Genuine Crossover, was recorded at ICP, Brussels, in the spring of 1991 and released in the autumn; while the Beastie Boys recorded 'Check Your Head' throughout 1991 and released it in spring 1992. This is of interest because the 'Life 'N' Perspectives' interludes on the UDS album sample the same Jimi Hendrix song ("Happy Birthday") and overlay near identical live drums as the Beastie Boys would later use on the song "Jimmy James" from 'Check Your Head'.

The Beastie Boys toured with the Rollins Band in the fall of 1992 to support 'Check Your Head'.

Suggested listening:

Suggested reading:

Suggested viewing:

"Pass the Mic"

"So What'Cha Want"

No comments: