I’m in Barrie, Ontario for the week and FINALLY the weather is nice enough to bring my bike and try to do some different workouts by getting and exploring. I’ve only ever visited Barrie in the winter months so my only memories of Barrie are running around Kempenfelt Bay in -stupid° polar vortex temperatures and arctic wind (don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself: CLICK) or the nasty downtown YMCA pool circa 1938 so, yeah, I’m a bit jazzed that the sun is out today and there are no other obstacles in my way other than the ones I set for myself; 8.75 worth of hill intervals (10 x Vancouver Rd., 5 x Rodney Rd., 3 x St. Vincent Rd.) that is.
Usually when I travel and train I bring music that reminds me of the local varieties so, typically I have loaded up iPod with good ‘ol Canadiana pop, rock and alt country goodliness but no, instead, I’m listening to ‘Paul’s Boutique‘ by the Beastie Boys. Go figure.
I originally had some Tragically Hip planned but then I listened to ‘Adventures Beyond the Underworld‘ last week on my long run and I thought, hey, I want me some more of those funky woven crazy-quilts of sick samples, phat beats, and totally ill loops yo. And when it comes to sick sampling and phat beast there is no better example than ‘Paul’s Boutique‘. Seriously. In total, over 105 songs were sampled on the album including the Ramones, Sweet, Kool & the Gang, Afrika Bambaataa, Mountain, King Curtis, Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield, Loggins and Messina (really?), James Brown and the Funky 4+1 (not to mention the 24 individual samples on the last track alone) giving the whole this wonderful random sense of funky playfulness which is as perfectly suitable for running seemingly endless hill intervals as any.
The Beasties spent approximately $250,000 on sample clearances in the late 1980’s — which would now cost millions. According to engineer Caldato, the band spent approximately a quarter-million dollars on samples for ‘Paul’s Boutique’. It’s estimated that with today’s laws and clearance fees, the Beastie’s could never get clearance for all the samples they used — and if they did, it would cost them a fortune. Not bad business acumen by a bunch of short lived frat goofballs, eh? Considering it has now gone on to earn literally millions in sales worldwide since then.
‘Paul’s Boutique’ was initially considered a commercial failure by the executives at Capitol Records, as its sales did not match that of the group’s previous record, ‘Licensed to Ill’, and the label eventually decided to even stop promoting the album. Strange then that it should later (2003) be ranked at #156 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Derided as one-hit wonders and labeled as “frat hip hop”, estranged from their original producer, Rick Rubin, and record label, Def Jam, the Beastie Boys were in self-imposed exile in Los Angeles during early 1988 and pretty much written off by most music critics before even beginning they started recording this album (their 2nd). This time around though the Beasties were focusing on making an album with more creative depth and less commercial material, to be produced by the Dust Brothers (Tone-Lōc’s ‘Wild Thing‘) whose own extensive, innovative use of sampling helped establish the practice of multi-layered sampling as an art in itself.
I do remember, however, that when it was released in 1989 it made absolutely no impression on me whatsoever. In truth, very little of what the Beastie Boys ever did anyway. I was more into what was happening in the U.K. and anything void of vitamin C, but here I am now 26 years later moving and groovin’, in lycra no less, up and down these godless hills along Kempenfelt Dr. to the Beastie Boys. A perfect living example of life imitating art if ever there was one.
Choosing “favorites” is tricky in that I prefer to view the album as a single track divided into parts; it just has that kind of flow. Each song is unique in it’s own way and totally bad ass. Just the way the album kicks off with the near sleezy ‘All the Girls‘ before leading into the deadly funky ‘Shake your Rump‘ is enough to have you completely swaggering your way through the downtown core heading north along Dunlop Str. towards the hills and imminent awesomeness. There’s ‘Johnny Ryall‘, ‘Egg Man‘, the playful ‘The Sound of Science‘, the ghetto drama of ‘Car Thief‘ and, oh, when was the last time you actually listened to ‘Hey Ladies‘? Just try and not groove along now…I dare ya.
But, honestly, I’m outside in shorts and it’s warm out…in Barrie…and I’m rocking out hills to the Beastie Boys. How awesome is this? Sorry, Cuff. Nothing personal.