The Collegian : the weekly newspaper of Behrend College. (Erie, PA) 1989-1993, September 07, 1989, Image 12

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    Page 12
Album Review
Beasties Find New Sound With Which To Excel
Paul's Boutique:
by Rob Farnham
Collegian Staff Writer
For a group whose recording history
began with the transcription of harassing
phone calls to Carvel's ice cream parlors
("Cookie Puss"), the Beastie Boys
certainly did well for themselves with
1986's "Licensed To Ill," the first rap
album ever to go to number one on the
pop charts.
That album's use of enormous guitar
riffs, scratched from Led Zeppelin and
Black Sabbath records, among others, to
accompany whomping drum beats
appealed at least as much to metalheads
as to rap afficionados.
The result was multiplatinum sales
and nationwide notoriety for the rude
attitudes and calculatedly offensive
behavior of the three Beasties.
A great deal has changed since
"Licensed," however. The group quit
their label, Def Jam, in a dispute over
royalties, and split with producer Rick
Rubin, apparently because they resented
the credit he was receiving for their
sound. Further, they cleared out of their
native New. York to spend more of thei
time out in California.
The group's members even pursued
some outside projects (Anyone remember
Adam "King Ad-Rock" Horowitz's
performance in "Lost Angels?"). But now
the bicoastal Beasties are back in action,
with a new label, Capital, a new
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the bank will take hum away as soon as I finish
repaying my student loans.
College-Boy Clever & Homeboy Stupid Fresh
producer, Man Dike, and a tremendous
new release, "Paul's Boutique."
The fifteen tracks on "Boutique"
show a marked departure from the earlier
Beasties sound, passing up most of the
big guitars in favor of samples and
scratches from a wide range of sources,
with a distinct emphasis on soul and
R&B from the pre-disco '7o's.
The boys have taken on the challenge
of extracting good music from a bad
decade, cheesing up the mix with the
snap, crackle and pop of record noise,
gratuitous bursts of flatulent clavinet
chords, theme music snatched from
"Jaws" and "Psycho," and eccentric
percussion sounds thrown in all over the
No two tracks employ the same mix,
resulting in an album that wanders from
the minimal synth-funk of "Car Thief' to
the menacing metal of "Looking Down
the Barrel of a Gun" to the amphetamine
country hoedown of "Five-Piece Chicken
Dinner" (Don't worry, it's short).
Stuff like this just shouldn't work
together. So its quite an accomplishment
that tracks like "Shake Your Rump" and
"Hey Ladies" kick out the way they do,
with beats, instruments, found sounds,
and vocals combining to move the cuts
along potently.
But when your group is three MC's,
the rhymes are truly crucial, and MCA,
Mike D, and King Ad-Rock come
through again with lyrics that are literate,
obtuse, socially conscious, grossly
offensive, college-boy clever, and
homeboy stupid-fresh like you would not
Pop-culture people and places (Chuck
Woolcry, Spanky from the Little
Rascals, 7-11) show up with historical
and literary figures (Ponce De Leon and
J.D. Salingcr), and sports heros with
obscure journeymen (Japanese baseball
star Saduharu Oh and former New York
Knick Hawthorne Wingo).
The tracks are also loaded with inside
jokes and cryptic references (Who is this
Ricky Powell guy, anyway?). On "Paul's
Boutique," there appear rhymes that
may never before have been imagined,
such as "You're all mixed up / Like pasta
primavera / Yo, man, why'd you throw
that chair at Geraldo Rivera?" ("What
Comes Around") and "You broke up with
your girl / It ended in tears / Vincent van
Gogh and mail that ear" ("Hey Ladies").
This wall of words (the entire inside of
the fold-out cassette sleeve is covered
with lyrics in tiny, tiny print), in
combination with the fast-changing,
ultra-varied music, is capable of getting
you to laugh, think, and move all at
The group's attitude hasn't changed
much, so parents and teachers will still
be obligated to hate them. The Boys still
boast, crudely and loudly, of scamming
your Balfour Represehtative:
September 13th & 14th
Outside the Bookstore
$_20.00 Deposit
Deposit Required
The Collegian Thursday, September 7, 1989
Don't miss this
golden opportunity
to save on a Balfour
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• 830 OFF 10K
• $5O OFF 14K
• $7O OFF 18K
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a...zi'i•Saoyerh 7 l , 4 6 . ,l /y
"girlies," abusing assorted chemicals,
starting fights, and engaging in all
manner of sociably anti-social behavior
(at least they advocate the use of
condoms, or "jimmy protectors"). But
every now and then traces of conviction
and character sneak onto a track, such as
the condemnations of racism and
intolerance that crop up all over
"Boutique." These may actually be
hints of ever-so-slightly greater maturity
to come from the Beasties. But probably
"Paul's Boutique," with its "b
bouillabaisse" sound, is probably less
accessible to mainstream listeners than
was the power-chord punch of
"Licensed," but it's well worth the extra
effort of getting used to the busy audio
collage pumping out on tunes like
"Shadrach" and "Egg Man." By refusing
to stick to the style of their inintial
success, the Beastie Boys have fOund a
new sound with which to excel. They
have shaped bits and pieces of the
surrounding culture, incorporating
elements from music, literature; 'sports,
politics, and who knows what else, into
a dense, complex multitrack construction
that rewards careful listenhig and works
in your head as well as . on the floor. An
ad, sampled on the album (and
presumably the source of its title), says
"For the best in men's clothing, call
Paul's Boutique." I would be inclined to
say, "For the best new collection'of hip
hop creativity, get "'Paul's Boutique."'