Monday, December 8, 2014

Beastie Boys : The Sounds of Science (1999)

Greatest hits, B-sides and Rarities from the Hip Hop Rap Rock Superstars! 

Most fans and critics would agree that few rap bands shaped the course of music in the '90s as much as the hip hoppers Beastie Boys. In the '80s, the  radical Beasties Boys trio comprising of Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "MCA" Yauch and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz  introduced rap to white high school kids when their Licensed to Ill broke down the barriers between rap and rock. Then, on the critically acclaimed follow-up, Paul's Boutique, the trio took sampling and rap song structure to brand new heights. Since then, the band fashioned a rap style that drew its inspiration from a multitude of musical genres - a distinctive sound that was comfortable borrowing riffs from just about any source, whether it be Cannonball Adderly, Zamfir, or even AC/DC. 

On their greatest hits compilation The Sounds of Science, the Beastie Boys packaged most of their  biggest hits along with a few new tracks and some rarities. Though it did well commercially, by trying to appeal to both die-hard and casual fans, the group ended up satisfying neither party. Casual fans didn't give a flip about hearing the insipid "Country Mike" material, while die-hard fans really didn't want to hear "Fight for Your Right" again. It's also a safe bet that only a small portion of the band's followers actually enjoyed their excursions into hardcore punk. The band would have been better off releasing The Sounds of Science as two separate CDs – one with the rarities and new tracks and one with the hits. 

As a collection of hits, the only noticeably absent tune was "No Sleep 'til Brooklyn." Perhaps the band was still bothered by the drug references in that song. As a collection of rarities, it's a shame that neither "Rock Hard" or "Spam" were included on The Sounds of Science. These songs had popped up on bootlegs for a while, and I'm sure many fans would loved to have clean recordings of these songs. Instead, they got a cover of Benny & the Jets that features a vocal by Biz Markie. It's funny the first time, annoying after that. 

From the start, the Beastie Boys knew they could never make a definitive "Greatest Hits" album. This is mainly due to the fact that their fans held widely varied opinions about which songs were/are actually the group's best. Some claim that Licensed to Ill is the band's best record, others argue that it's their worst. Knowing this, the band decided to let their fans even make their own custom CDs too. 

Whatever your reason, this anthology (in spite of all its inconsistencies) is a must for any fan of the 90s especially the hip hop genre that this uncustomary rap rock band truly redefined. 


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