Anthology - The Sounds Of Science
Grand Royal / Capitol Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/16/2000
Who would have thought that the biggest selling rap artists of all-time would be three white guys from Brooklyn? That they would score the first Number One rap album on Billboard's Charts ever? Still, the boys who would be known as MCA, Ad-Rock and Mike D have somehow carved a career full of hits and rave reviews; remaining relevant and popular through their own musical changes as well as the changing tides of popular music.
Now, to celebrate this long career, the boys have released The Sounds Of Science, a compilation that serves rarities, B-sides, and a compilation of some of their greatest hits. Packaged beautifully and containing liner notes from the three boys themselves, it's amazing to find several things that you may not have known.
For example, did you know that the Beastie Boys began as a hardcore punk band in New York? You get a small taste of that in the very first track, "Beastie Boys" and "Egg Raid On Mojo." They sound very raw and unproduced - unlike what many of their future releases would sound like. This early version of the Beasties - Mike Diamond, Adam Yauch, John Berry and Luscious Jackson's Kate Schellenbach - would later be transformed into the classic trio of Diamond, Yauch and Adam Horovitz.
Another thing I never knew was that their seminal hit, "Fight For Your Right (To Party)" was supposed to be a joke on all the cheesy anthems of the 80s. When producer Rick Rubin remixed it and made it into the song it is, the Beasties were caught into being the frat boy jokes the video had turned them into. That seems to color their entire License To Ill period in a different light. Perhaps things may have turned different if they had not found success in such a way and had to rebel against it, but they did.
All of that said, you have to marvel at their mic skills and at their ability to come up with rhymes that are both amusing and deep at the same time. Here's where your own personal tastes will direct you to a certain period of the Beasties' career. Are you more into their frat boy young days ( License To Ill)? Or do you prefer their 70s funk days ( Paul's Boutique)? How about their return to their punk roots ( Check Your Head and Ill Communication)? Or their subsequent return to their old-school rhymes ( Hello Nasty)?
Whatever the case may be for you, there's enough of each to wet your appetite for more. Even though, we get such tracks like "Intergalactic," "Hey Ladies," "So What'Cha Want," "Sabotage," "Body Movin'" and on and on, you may start to wonder where your favorite Beastie Boys song is. Where is "No Sleep Till Brooklyn"? Or "The Sounds Of Science"? Or "Girls"? Or whichever song you favor.
Beyond that, this anthology gives you tracks off EP's like the funky "Root Down" and their first single "She's On It." You also get some a nice cover of "Benny And The Jets" (yeah, the Elton John hit). Finally, there's some great studio stuff and lesser-known tracks that have colored the Beasties' career. "Remote Control," "Country Mike's Theme," and the funny (but terribly disgusting) "Boomin' Granny." If you know what it's about, don't break it to those who haven't heard it yet - just watch their expressions as they realize the truth.
In the end though, this anthology serves its purpose well by making you want to go out and find more albums from this amazing trio. Personally, I'd recommend you pick up Paul's Boutique and Check Your Head First. Then, try Hello Nasty and Ill Communication. Save License To Ill for last, because, though great, it's more of a snapshot into their beginnings.
The Sounds Of Science is a perfect way to encapture one of the biggest artists of the last fifteen years. Like I said at the beginning, who would have thought? However, their talents and their desire to succeed have managed to break whatever barriers may have stopped their progress. What amazes me most is that, the day I bought this anthology, my youngest brother - who was not around to see the Beasties in their party days - picked it up and played it all night long. This ability to connect with members of other generations will surely ensure that the names of the Beastie Boys is never forgotten.