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Spins: Beastie Boys • Hello Nasty 25th anniversary 4xLP box

| January 17, 2024

Beastie Boys

Hello Nasty 25th anniversary 4xLP box

(UMe)

By 1998, Beastie Boys ruled radio and MTV thanks to a steady stream of brash and catchy singles, beginning with 1986 noise-fest “Fight for Your Right” from the trio’s debut and continuing with tracks including “Hey Ladies,” “So What’cha Want,” and “Sabotage” from ensuing albums. After a four-year gap between albums filled with touring, videos, public-facing business ventures, and the growing impact of the band’s social consciousness (which no one would have predicted circa Licensed to Ill), the pop music world was primed for Hello Nasty. Leaping through the speakers with the initial single “Intergalactic,” the Beasties’ fifth album did not disappoint. Mike D, Ad-rock, and MCA were as inventive and determined to flip your lid as ever with their mix of sample-heavy hip-hop and hand-played rock, soul, and punk. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard chart. For its 25th anniversary, Hello Nasty is being reissued in a 4xLP set that originally arrived in 2009 as a limited edition that quickly went out of print. The album’s original 22 tracks include the irresistible hit “Body Movin’,” with a line that suggested the album’s memorable cover. “MCA, where have you been?,” ask Ad-Rock and Mike D. “Packed like sardines in a tin,” answers MCA as the song offers a dance lesson with step-by-step instructions. Mix Master Mike scratches records on “Three MCs and One DJ,” the DJ’s first appearance on a Beastie Boys single. The song was released alongside “Remote Control,” featuring the trio rapping over Eric Bobo’s big beat percussion and a sly guitar riff from a soul record. Money Mark Nishita’s soul-centric keyboards are a hallmark of tracks, including “Song for the Man.”

The album includes a handful of notable guests from across the musical spectrum. Jill Cunniff of Luscious Jackson appears on “Song for Junior,” and Miho Hatori of Cibo Matto guests on “I Don’t Know.” Rapper Biz Markie joins “The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin’),” and dub music legend Lee “Scratch” Perry arrives to receive his honorary doctorate on the reggae-infused “Dr. Lee, Ph.D.” The album is augmented with 21 additional tracks. They’re not essential, but they mesh well with the Beasties’ loony mindset and allow fans to hear the band at play. There’s at least one on-mic belch, to give you an idea of how seriously to take the expanded set. The title “Description of a Strange Man” is truth in advertising, with the Beasties in the recording booth describing a weird guy regularly seen on surrounding streets.

The most interesting tracks are the off-the-cuff instrumental experiments. “Dirt Dog” is a brief shot at an R&B instrumental of the kind that would eventually be refined for 2007’s The Mix-Up. Other instrumentals include “Piano Jam” and the wonky keyboard-and-drum track “Switched On.” “Auntie Jackie Poom Poom Delicious” is a studio ramble with dub organ and Polynesian rhythm. “Stink Bug” layers a Latin groove and echoed hand percussion. “20 Questions Version” is a close cousin, featuring MCA’s double bass, rattle-trap acoustic guitar, and someone going to town with a squeaky Brazilian cuica. “Peanut Butter & Jelly” is an all-skate instrumental with Money Mark, featuring overdubbed vocals by Mike D’s young niece, who sings about her favorite snack. “Hail Sagan (Special K)” sounds like a C-movie sci-fi score, complete with mimicked animal noises and amateurish space creature sound effects by the Beasties. Several remixes put different spins on familiar tracks, including “Intergalactic,” “Putting Shame in Your Game,” and “The Negotiation Limerick File.” Remixers include Colleone Webb, Prunes, and more. Fatboy Slim remixes “Body Movin’” in the style of that year’s breakthrough album, You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby. The collection arrives in a book-style sleeve with album and single art, liner notes and a complete but very tiny set of lyrics, and a five-inch embroidered patch. The set is bound in a hardback slipcase.

Jeff Elbel

9 of 10

 

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