Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Beastie Boys - "The Mix-Up" (LP Review)

Remember listening to "Ill Communication" and "Check Your Head" and thinking "wow, those instrumental fuzzy/funk/fusion/faux-soundtrack jams sure are cool; they should do a whole LP of them"?  The Beastie Boys sort of delivered that with 1996's "The In Sound From Way Out" but that was a just a collection of instrumentals from IC and CYH with a couple of b-sides thrown in.  It wasn't until 2007 when The Beastie Boys finally gave us "The Mix-Up", an LP consisting of entirely of new instrumentals. 

To be honest, the wait was kind of a disappointment.  "The Mix-Up" is not bad, but somehow it is missing the magic hinted at in the earlier LPs.  Is it because the songs themselves aren't as inspired?  Did they wait too long to do this project -- would this have sounded more fresh in 1997 rather than 2007?  Or do the instrumentals simply sound better when juxtaposed with the Beastie's hip-hop (and occasionally punk) tracks?  I will say "The Mix-Up" is better than the similarly-themed 1995 "solo" LP "Mark's Keyboard Repair" from Money Mark, the unofficial fourth Beastie who also appears here.

I think the LP got a pass in many reviews when it came out because the Beasties were elder statesmen by then and we were happy to have anything new from them.  Here's a 2007 track-by-track review from someone who loved the LP, but I'm more inclined to agree with the Pitchfork review.  This isn't a bad LP, but it isn't essential either: just 12 mostly interchangeable background listening tracks that would not have generated much buzz if the name "Beastie Boys" wasn't on the LP cover.  On the other hand, I'm not sure they were trying to make a grand statement either: there is kind of a "just another funky weekend in the Beastie garage" feel to the LP.  With the death of MCA in 2012, presumably The Beastie Boys discography is complete (modulo some unreleased material that might eventually be released) so you have to enjoy what you have.

Standout tracks: none.

Skip 'em tracks: none.

Full LP: YouTube, Grooveshark

Final score: 6/10

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