I didn't buy a CD player until the summer of 1989. I was a poor college
student and had been collecting stacks of cassettes and vinyl until
that time. One of the earliest CDs I bought was Paul's Boutique
by the Beastie Boys. Everybody was expecting License To
Ill part 2. "Fight For Your Fight To Party," "Brass
Monkey," "Girls," etc. had blown up in late 87 and
into 88. The expectation was the new Beastie Boys' album would be
filled with more raucous fratboy party anthems by America's great
When the Beasties teamed up with the Dust Brothers, the result
was something that frankly confused some folks. What was it? Was it
a concept album? At first listen I remember I wasn't too sure myself.
But after a few listens it became clear. It was apparent that, hit
single or not, the album was destined to be monumental. It was groundbreaking
in the use of samples layer upon layer, the Beastie Boys and the Dust
Brothers transformed the landscape of the genre and ultimately pop
music itself. Granted, nobody could afford to make this album and
actually pay for the rights today. So in that regard it changed the
At the time it was probably viewed as a commercial disappointment.
Sure there are a some singles, "Hey Ladies," "Egg Man,"
and "Shake Your Rump." But nothing on Paul's Boutique
really got the airplay its predecessor got. Still, it slowly grew
as people discovered its significance.
Anyone who likes hip-hop already has this album. This is no new ground
to cover. So why buy the re-issue? One, you can get a sweet 180g-vinyl
version of it. Or if you're so inclined you can get it in Apple Lossless
or FLAC forms. It's also been remastered. If you care about that kind
of thing, it's cool. In a side-by-side comparison the reissue sounds
a little brighter than the original. The spatial separation, particularly
on some of the samples, is a little better defined. The Beasties tread
dangerously close to the tendency by artists of late to make music
louder just for the sake of being loud. But the remastering does allow
more crispness in the samples, which makes one hear some things a
little differently than they did twenty years ago.
The only change track-wise is the way that "B-Boy Bouillabaisse"
is split into its component parts as separate tracks rather than many
sub-indexes the original had. Since no modern CD players see indexes
this makes sense. Sonic Youth did the same thing with "The
Trilogy:" on Daydream Nation.
A 53 minute commentary by the band is available on their website.
It offers some insight into the characters around the album and what
was going on at the time. You can download that for free anyway, but
it's a good listen.
The bottom line is this: If you don't already own some form of Paul's
Boutique, crawl out of your hovel and buy it today, or whenever
the state loads your state-issued debit card. Some have called it
the hip-hop Pet Sounds or Dark Side Of The Moon. That
should be endorsement enough. If you already own this album, even
in its original form, dust it off, get in your way-back machine and
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