[62] The Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique

13 Jun

Twenty years ago this month I first arrived at the summer camp that has become both career and second home, and the soundtrack of that summer was The Beastie Boys’, License To Ill.

Paul's Boutique

Paul’s Boutique











Almost everyone I met, campers and staff, were Jewish kids from Brooklyn or Queens and they all thought they *were* Beastie Boys (even some of the girls.)

It didn’t matter that the album was already almost ten years old – License To Ill was in every Walkman, on every Jukebox, on every bus ride, and on everyone’s lips.

The pairing of comfortable rock riffs and attitude with cartoonish rhymes and tongue in cheek mischief was irresistible to me then, and the same is true two decades later of the follow up album, Paul’s Boutique.

The energy and playfulness is all encompassing, and the childish boasting of crime and violence is done with just enough of a wink that you don’t actually believe a word.

And those words! They just keep on coming, rapid-fire and relentless so that with each listen there is another reference to catch.  And another, and another.

Like Love/Hate who called themselves “the stoopidest band in the world” a few years later, The Beasties cram their frat-boy nonsense full of unexpectedly powerful social commentary, right alongside the sex and drugs and ultraviolence.

Snuck in amongst miles of lyrics designed to upset parents are shining moments of clarity, shattering the clown act, for it was clear even before the Boys spelled it out years later that it was an act.

Moments like the one midway through “Egg Man” where we hear

“You made the mistake judge a man by his race / You go through life with egg on your face.”

The juxtaposition of a line like this with the seemingly puerile near nonsense that proceeds it can’t help but catch your attention.

The album is littered with references to scientists, artists and all manner of pop culture, but it is not just the lyrics that provide a never-ending feast of “Where’s Waldo” (“Where’s Wally” if you’re English) moments.

There are entire websites devoted to documenting the hundreds of pieces of music sampled here to provide the soundscape over which the rapping occurs.

The most casual of listens reveals Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, but *everything* sounds familiar, and it turns out with good reason.  Every genre, every sound has been coopted, cut down and shaped to the needs of the song – dozens and dozens of tiny pieces for each track. They even sample License To Ill!

The result is musically stunning.

It is amazing to think that Paul’s Boutique at once took making music to another level, while at the same time garnering just enough attention to ensure that laws were soon passed (or at least enforced) meaning that no one could make music in quite this way again.

For that reason alone it would be well worth a listen in the scope of “recordings to hear before you die.” That it still sounds fresh and frisky, embarrassing and infuriating, important, ridiculous and catchy as hell all at once even twenty-five years later is way beyond gravy.

Next Week: The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night

Owned before blogging? No. (3 of 62 = 5%)
Heard before blogging? No. (5 of 62 = 8%)
Recommend? Yes. (49 of 62 = 79%)


One Response to “[62] The Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique”

  1. Joe Gola June 14, 2014 at 9:43 AM #

    We listened to this endlessly my sophomore year of college, and I still love it. I suppose, though, that a lot of references will be lost on the younger generations, like “I date women on TV with the help of Chuck Woolery.”

    Some might disagree, but I don’t think the B-Boys ever did better. Educated? No. Stupid? Yep. And when I say stupid I mean stupid fresh!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


Days in the life


My rants, outbursts and musings.

Going Gone Global

My name is Allya and I want to see the world

Every number one

Journey through all the songs that topped the charts

musicophilesblog - From Keith Jarrett to Johannes Brahms

Writing About and Reviewing Classical Music and Jazz

Leaves of Logan

Rants, reviews, rambles and a whole lot of books

Power to the Meeple!

A revolution in Board Game journalism and podcasts

Love Nico Tees

Art and Fashion animated by analog spirit. #lovenico

Punk Rock Reviews

Reviewing Music

Team Distraction

Dicemasters Strategy

The Delinquent Diplomat

The Diplomacy Player's Blog Of Choice

Sampling Station

Tasty tunes, laughs, TV + film

The Immortal Jukebox

A Blog about Music and Popular Culture

Serious Thinks Thought Here

Grown Up Blogging Platform - Same Crappy Content

500 Reasons Why The 80's Didn't Suck

A Division Of Uncle E's Musical Nightmares

Benfica to Brazil

A summer of football...

%d bloggers like this: