As is so often the case when a great artist passes, the early death of Beastie Boy MCA aka Adam Yauch in May sent us hurtling back to their fun-filled back catalogue, and in particular their classic 1989 LP ‘Paul’s Boutique’. Released in the years before the music industry had properly caught up with the phenomenon of sample based music, the LP is an absolute free for all collage of chopped up breakbeats and funky licks and vocal lifts, with the Beasties at their odd ball, surrealist best on the likes of ‘Egg Man’. Humpty Dumpty was a big fat egg you know!
The band had become tabloid pariahs in the UK following their mega-selling ‘Licensed To ILL’ LP and a tour that had them spraying shook up beer cans all over caged go-go dancers, being falsely accused of teasing disabled kids, and inciting a near-riot at a now infamous show in Liverpool. After all that madness, they ended up decamping to California and working with up and coming hip hop producers The Dust Brothers, who would break big in 1988 with Young MC and his irresistible hip-pop hit ‘Know How’. If you ever wondered where The Stone Roses got that bassline for ‘Fool’s Gold’, you can stop now…
The Dust Brothers later went on to construct much of Beck’s ‘Odelay’ and by this stage they had hours of thickly layered walls of samples built up in their studio – lifting drum sections from vintage jazz, funk and soul records and laying all sorts of sounds over the top in a frenzied manner, including the guitar riff from ‘The End’ by The Beatles at one stage. This put them on the wrong end of a lawsuit due to the Liverpool band’s strict ‘no sampling’ policy. Added to the mischievous sense of fun that was The Beasties’ stock in trade, the end result was something that sounded beamed in from outer space in comparison to the frat-hop cheekiness of ‘Licensed To ILL’.
It didn’t take long for some of the very biggest hitters to pay homage. Miles Davis went on record to say that he could never listen to the LP enough times, while Public Enemy’s Chuck D has admitted that it was a dirty little secret amongst the hip hop community that ‘Paul’s Boutique’ (and the funky white boys that created it) had the best beats. And this is in the era of ’3 Foot High and Rising’ ‘Strictly Business’ and ‘It Takes A Nation Of Millions….’, remember, so that’s really saying something!
After selling six million copies of their debut LP, the Beasties didn’t really need this follow up to be a big success for the good of their bank balances. Thus the choice of the wonderfully goofy ‘Hey Ladies’ as lead single from the LP seemed almost willfully perverse, with it’s slowed down Commodores sample.
And even goofier video.
It wasn’t the most obvious choice of single, especially when you consider that the B-side was the frenetic album opener ‘Shake Your Rump’, a song which featured in nearly every live show the group performed for the following 20 years. Mashing a ludicrous amount of samples onto it’s petite 3 and a bit minute frame, it’s a rollercoaster ride of an absolute tuner with too many good bits to mention, and a video to match…
Having a quick look around the internet on the day of Yauch’s death reminded us what an incredible tool we have here at our fingertips. Beastie Boys Annotated features an obsessive fan picking apart all the cultural references and cheeky wordplay that make up the Beastie’s lyrical oeuvre. The best thing we learned from this one is that the line ‘Like Sam The Butcher bringing Alice the meat’ is a reference to Alice the housekeeper from The Brady Bunch, who was indeed brought the meat by her butcher boyfriend Sam.
And here we learnt that the percussion instrument you hear that sounds like a straw being pulled through a soft drink lid is an African percussion instrument called a cuica ( kwee-kuh), which mimics the sound of a female lion’s roar to help hunters attract males. So now you know!
And then there’s DJ Funktuall, the absurdly enthusiastic Youtuber and ‘Sample Junkie’ who posts videos detailing the original tracks that hip hop producers have been feeding into their samplers over the years. He’s done a full 15 minute run through of the samples that make up ‘Shake Your Rump’, and quite the watch it is. When broken down into the minute detail that a man with Funktuall’s knowledge can bring, it’s hard not to be a little awestruck at the furious inventiveness that went into making this track.
It got us so inspired that we set to work editing the track that supplies the famous opening drum roll, a serious piece of mid 70′s clav-funk that needed stripping of some jazz funk noodling in the middle in order to keep the dancers juiced. We’ve called it ‘Funky Rump’ and we’re granting you a sweet listen only preview of it today – it should be out on Fatty Fatty Phonographics sometime soon.
Of course, due to the wonders of the internet, if you just want to skin a big fat bad boy and listen to the whole of ‘Paul’s Boutique’ on YouTube, you can do it right here right now…
Disco bag schlepping and now you’re doing the bump…. Shake your Rump-ah!