Beastie Boys: Check Your Head (4 LP Deluxe Edition) (Capitol/UMe) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Beastie Boys

Check Your Head (4 LP Deluxe Edition)


Aug 23, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Back in 2009, at the dawn of vinyl’s comeback, Beastie Boys reissued their landmark 1992 double LP Check Your Head, expanding the set from two to four (count ‘em!) LPs, adding all of the album cycle’s 12-inch singles and B-sides to the expanded set housed in a beautiful, large book full of photos from the era as well. Out of print for over a decade, fans’ prayers have now been answered with a reissue of that same 2009 set, so now fans can buy it without paying exorbitant prices. It should be noted that this comes on the heels of a reissue of the original double LP earlier this year and this four LP version was beautifully cut by Chris Bellman.

As for the original double album, from the opening notes of “Jimmy James,” one can easily surmise that sonically, this destroys any CD version and feels like the way this album was always meant to sound, though it had the misfortune of being released in the CD era. That said, after the relative commercial disappointment of 1989’s sophomore album Paul’s Boutique (which has since been reappraised by fans and critics, many of whom consider it to be their best work), Check Your Head represented a return and a rebirth at the same time.

It was a return to the live instrumentation of their early ’80s hardcore punk days with much of the album featuring Mike D on drums, the late Adam Yauch (MCA) on bass, and Ad Rock (Adam Horovitz) on guitar. They even cover an early ’80s New York hardcore punk tune called “Feel Like a King” (which they renamed “Time for Livin’”) by Frontline (featuring later Cro-Mags and Bad Brains drummer extraordinaire Mackie Jayson). Whether this change from sample-based hip-hop to rhyming over their own instrumentation (with the occasional instrumental) was a matter of necessity (due to sampling limits set by then recent court cases like one involving their friend and collaborator Biz Markie—who appears here, notably, on “The Biz vs. The Nuge” and would appear at their live shows occasionally as a special guest—or a matter of choice, it works phenomenally well here and set the stage for much of the rest of their career. This is also the first Beastie Boys album to feature contributions from keyboardist Money Mark and the first album they produced themselves (with the help of Mario Caldato, Jr., another future long-term collaborator, albeit one who had worked on Paul’s Boutique).

It also represented a rebirth because after playing clubs early on, the album broke into the U.S. Top 10 and reestablished them commercially, setting the stage for the commercial success of their subsequent albums (particularly 1994’s similar Ill Communication and 1998’s even more experimental Hello Nasty) and paving the way for the decade’s later many rap-rock crossover, though arguably no one did it better than here with the possible exception of Rage Against the Machine’s debut LP. This reissue’s last two LPs full of remixes and live versions will be of note mainly to to hardcore/obsessive fans who want to have everything, but if you collected these singles in the ’90s, they’ll be nice to have in one place. What a phenomenal reissue! (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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