Twenty years after its initial release, the Beastie Boys’ second full-length Paul’s Boutique (Capitol Records) stands tall as the trio’s most diverse, fun and innovative album of its career. Around late January/early February, the group, via its website gave it new life as it released a remastered version on vinyl and eco-friendly CD form with the option of downloading digital versions (while you wait for the physical versions to hit your mailbox). You could also get this release in pure digital form (320 kbps mp3, plus interactive 3D digital artwork).
These New York City natives were recording in Los Angeles in 1989, but as the album cover suggests, this epic release thematically was an ode of sorts to their home state and life – “Hey Ladies” was the exception, as it was geared towards California girls.
In many ways, P.B. was different than its smash debut Licensed To Ill. While the latter was both a pioneering and ultimate party rap/hard rock record, Paul’s Boutique was wild in a unique way, and its secret weapon was the Dust Brothers, E.Z. Mike in particular.
MCA (Adam Yauch), Mike D (Michael Diamond) and Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz) yelled or smoothly rapped endless amounts of clever rhymes throughout the album, while E.Z. Mike scratched, sampled and cut tons of records to provide a mixture of sound unlike anything you’ve ever heard before or since. In all, there are reportedly 105 songs sampled on P.B., and they run the gamut from jazz, R&B, country/bluegrass and funk to hip-hop, reggae, soul, and hard rock. Listening to these songs and samples is still a trip all these years later.
The only live instrumentation comes from Yauch’s bass guitar and Ad-Rock’s guitar parts on the track “Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun.” It is also the only rap/metal track in the vein of Licensed To Ill on the record. It’s simple yet impressive, especially given the fact that rappers weren’t known for playing their own instruments back then. The Beasties, who started out as hardcore punk rockers, would only increase their level of hands-on musicianship on future albums.