Beastie Boys - Check Your Head - Remastered Edition

Released in 1992, 3 years after Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head was always going to be a difficult album for the Beastie Boys to deliver. In many regards it can be viewed as a second album: a follow up to Paul’s Boutique and the sample-heavy funk that graced that record. These were both poles apart from the band’s debut Licence to Ill and the crude party-rap it championed. So, having just had the 20th anniversary reissue of Paul’s Boutique, we are now presented with a remastered and extended version of Check Your Head.

The actual album has, for me anyway, always been slightly underrated when the Beastie Boys back-catalogue is discussed. Sure, it was a hard and unenviable task to follow the invention and sheer surprise that was Paul’s Boutique. But, far from being a collection of left over’s from those sessions Check Your Head contains some of their most vital and vibrant work. ‘Pass The Mic’ still stands as a definitive Beastie moment, as does ‘So What’cha Want’. The blueprint for 1994’s Ill Communication is woven throughout the album – no ‘Gratitude’ = no Sabotage. The same logic applies to many other tracks and ideas that burst forth from this album at regular intervals. Bearing this in mind, it's possible to even view Check Your Head as shaping the Beastie Boys sound for years to come more so than Paul's Boutique ever did.

For die-hards, you also have a bonus disc of remixes and unreleased material to investigate to your heart’s content. The highlights of which include the original version of ‘Skills To Pay The Bills’, a live version of ‘Gratitude’ and an outstanding Soul Assassin’s remix of ‘So What’cha Want’. Value for money is an out-and-out winner here; for your cash you’ll get two discs numbering a total of 36 tracks – even the credit crunch can accommodate those kinds of numbers.

Check Your Head may not be the Beastie Boys best album but it is quite clearly among the echelons of their work. Think of it as a stepping stone between Paul’s Boutique and Ill Communication: a place where ideas were conceived and nurtured. As I said, no ‘Gratitude’ = no Sabotage, and where would we be then?

Overall

8

out of 10

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