Check Your Head is the third studio album by American hip hop group Beastie Boys, released by Grand Royal and Capitol Records on April 21, 1992. Three years elapsed between the releases of the band's second studio album Paul's Boutique and Check Your Head, which was recorded at the G-Son Studios in Atwater Village in 1991 under the guidance of producer Mario Caldato Jr., the group's third producer in as many albums. Less sample-heavy than their previous records, the album features instrumental contributions from all three members: Adam Horovitz on guitar, Adam Yauch on bass guitar, and Mike Diamond on drums.

Check Your Head
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 21, 1992 (1992-04-21)
StudioG-Son, Atwater Village, California
ProducerMario Caldato, Jr.
Beastie Boys chronology
Paul's Boutique
Check Your Head
Ill Communication
Singles from Check Your Head
  1. "Pass the Mic"
    Released: April 7, 1992
  2. "So What'cha Want"
    Released: June 2, 1992
  3. "Jimmy James"
    Released: August 28, 1992
  4. "Gratitude"
    Released: October 4, 1992
  5. "Professor Booty"
    Released: December 15, 1992

The album was re-released in a number of formats in 2009, with 16 b-sides and rarities, as well as a commentary track, included as bonus material.[7] It is one of the albums profiled in the 2007 book Check the Technique, which includes a track-by-track breakdown by Diamond, Yauch, Horovitz, Caldato, and frequent Beasties collaborator Money Mark.[8]

Background edit

Check Your Head was the first Beastie Boys album to be fully co-produced by Mario Caldato Jr., who had been an engineer on Paul's Boutique and was credited as producer on that album's track "Ask for Janice".[9] It also marked the first appearance on one of their albums of keyboardist Money Mark, who became a regular collaborator of the band.[9]

The album was somewhat of a return by the Beastie Boys to their punk roots. It featured the trio playing their own instruments on the majority of the album, for the first time on record since their early EPs, due to the commercial failure of Paul's Boutique.[9][10] This inspired photographer Glen E. Friedman to shoot photos of the Beasties with their instrument cases, one of which was used as the cover of the album.[9] Supposedly, a trading card for Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. from a set of Desert Storm trading cards was the inspiration for the album's title.[9]

The Beastie Boys toured with the Rollins Band and Cypress Hill in early 1992 to support Check Your Head.[9]

Critical reception edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [1]
The A.V. ClubA−[11]
Chicago Tribune    [12]
Entertainment WeeklyD[13]
Mojo     [14]
The Philadelphia Inquirer    [15]
Q     [16]
Rolling Stone     [17]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [18]

Check Your Head has received widespread acclaim since its release. Kevin Powell of Rolling Stone called Check Your Head the Beastie Boys' "most unconventional outing to date" and stated that "the cross-pollination of styles on Check Your Head is confusing at times, yet the album achieves distinction because of its ingenuity."[20] Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune wrote that the group were showing "surprising resiliency and versatility", noting their new musical direction on Check Your Head and singling out Money Mark's performance on the album for praise, referring to him as the album's "secret weapon".[12] Entertainment Weekly's David Browne, on the other hand, panned the album as a "muddled, clanking mess".[13] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice called Check Your Head a "great concept", but felt "the execution is halfway there at best",[21] later assigning it a "neither" rating, indicating an album that "may impress once or twice with consistent craft or an arresting track or two. Then it won't."[22]

Spin ranked Check Your Head at number four on their list of the 20 best albums of the year,[23] and it ranked in fifth place on The Village Voice's year-end Pazz & Jop critics' poll.[24] Spin later ranked the album number 12 on their list of the 90 greatest albums of the 1990s,[25] while Alternative Press ranked it at number 23 on their list of the top 99 albums released from 1985–95.[26] Pitchfork ranked the album at number 67 on their Top 150 Albums of the 1990s list in 2022, praising the album's funk-inspired instrumentals.[27] In a retrospective review, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called Check Your Head "a whirlwind tour through the Beasties' pop-culture obsessions, but instead of spinning into Technicolor fantasies, it's earth-bound D.I.Y. that makes it all seem equally accessible — which is a big reason why it turned out to be an alt-rock touchstone of the '90s, something that both set trends and predicted them."[1] It was ranked number 261 in the 2020 edition of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time list (though it was not ranked in the original 2003 list or the 2012 revision).[28]

Track listing edit

All tracks written by Beastie Boys (Adam Yauch, Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz) and "Money" Mark Nishita, except where noted.

1."Jimmy James"
2."Funky Boss" 1:35
3."Pass the Mic"
  • Beastie Boys
  • Caldato
  • Beastie Boys
  • Tom Cushman
5."Lighten Up" 2:41
6."Finger Lickin' Good"
7."So What'cha Want"Beastie Boys3:37
8."The Biz vs. The Nuge"0:33
9."Time for Livin'"1:48
10."Something's Got to Give"
  • Beastie Boys
  • Nishita
  • Caldato
11."The Blue Nun"Beastie Boys0:32
12."Stand Together"
  • Beastie Boys
  • Caldato
13."Pow" 2:13
14."The Maestro"Beastie Boys2:52
15."Groove Holmes" 2:33
16."Live at P.J.'s" 3:18
17."Mark on the Bus"Nishita1:05
18."Professor Booty"
  • Beastie Boys
  • Caldato
19."In 3's" 2:23
20."Namasté" 4:01
Japanese bonus tracks
21."Dub the Mic" (Instrumental) 
22."Drunken Praying Mantis Style" 
23."Skills to Pay the Bills (Pass the Mic, Pt. 2)" 
24."Netty's Girl" 
2009 Remastered Edition Bonus Disc
1."Dub the Mic" (Instrumental)4:30
2."Pass the Mic (Pt. 2, Skills to Pay the Bills)"4:25
3."Drunken Praying Mantis Style"2:40
4."Netty's Girl"3:24
5."The Skills to Pay the Bills" (Original Version)3:16
6."So What'cha Want" (Soul Assassins Remix Version)4:08
7."So What'cha Want" (Butt Naked Version)3:29
8."Groove Holmes" (Live vs The Biz)6:13
9."So What'cha Want" (All The Way Live Freestyle Version)3:39
10."Stand Together" (Live at French's Tavern, Sydney, Australia)2:32
11."Finger Lickin' Good" (Government Cheese Remix)4:15
12."Gratitude" (Live at Budokan 9-16-92)4:28
13."Honky Rink"2:13
14."Jimmy James" (Original Version)3:44
15."Boomin' Granny"2:18
16."Drinkin' Wine"4:42

Personnel edit

Beastie Boys
Additional personnel
  • Money Mark – organ, synthesizer, keyboards, clavinet, Wurlitzer
  • James Bradley, Jr. (Tracks 2, 4, 10, 13, 16, 20) – percussion
  • Juanito Vazquez (Tracks 5, 15) – percussion (cuica, conga)
  • Art Oliva (Tracks 5, 19) – percussion (batá, shakeree)
  • Drew Lawrence (Track 6) – percussion (tamboura, mridungan)
  • Marcel Hall – vocals on "The Biz Vs. The Nuge"
  • Alexandra "Xan" Cassavetes (credited as "Nax Setevassac") – background vocals on "The Maestro"
Technical personnel

Charts edit

Weekly chart performance for Check Your Head
Chart (1992) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[29] 74
US Billboard 200[30] 10
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[31] 37

Certifications edit

Certifications and sales for Check Your Head
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[32] 2× Platinum 200,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[33] Silver 60,000*
United States (RIAA)[34] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Check Your Head – Beastie Boys". AllMusic. Archived from the original on June 3, 2012. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  2. ^ Coffman, Tim (May 5, 2022). "10 Perfect Albums That Will Make You Love Alternative Rock". WhatCulture. Archived from the original on June 11, 2022. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  3. ^ "Why The Beastie Boys' Check Your Head Is Still Rap-Rock's Greatest Masterpiece". LA Weekly. April 19, 2017. Archived from the original on December 7, 2017. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  4. ^ Maider, Ted (August 30, 2013). "Wait, You've Never Heard: Beastie Boys – Check Your Head". Consequence of Sound. Archived from the original on August 12, 2016. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  5. ^ Patrin, Nate (April 14, 2009). "Beastie Boys – Check Your Head: Deluxe Edition". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on May 28, 2016. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  6. ^ Abramowitz, Ari (2004). The Pockit Rockit Music Finder. Music Guru, Incorporated. p. 274. ISBN 978-0-9759787-0-2.
  7. ^ "Beastie Boys' Check Your Head "special features" posted". April 7, 2009. Archived from the original on April 11, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
  8. ^ Coleman, Brian (2007). Check The Technique: Liner Notes For Hip-Hop Junkies. New York: Villard. ISBN 978-0-8129-7775-2.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Coleman, Brian (2007). Check the technique: liner notes for hip-hop junkies. Random House. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-8129-7775-2. Archived from the original on June 26, 2014. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
  10. ^ Reynolds, Simon. "Beastie Boys: 'Check Your Head' @ 30 – TIDAL Magazine". Tidal. Archived from the original on October 22, 2022. Retrieved October 22, 2022.
  11. ^ Rabin, Nathan (July 14, 2009). "Beastie Boys". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on February 2, 2016. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  12. ^ a b Kot, Greg (April 23, 1992). "Beastie Boys: Check Your Head (Capitol)". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on February 1, 2016. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  13. ^ a b Browne, David (May 1, 1992). "Check Your Head". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on November 5, 2015. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  14. ^ "Beastie Boys: Check Your Head". Mojo (185). April 2009.
  15. ^ Moon, Tom (April 26, 1992). "The Beastie Boys: Check Your Head (Capitol)". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  16. ^ "Beastie Boys: Check Your Head". Q (276): 134. July 2009.
  17. ^ Rosen, Jody (April 27, 2009). "Beastie Boys: Check Your Head". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 23, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  18. ^ Levy, Joe (2004). "Beastie Boys". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 49–51. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  19. ^ Morrison, Dave (June 1992). "Beastie Boys: Check Your Head". Select (24): 69.
  20. ^ Powell, Kevin (June 25, 1992). "Check Your Head". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 19, 2014. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  21. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 2, 1993). "Between a Rock and a Hard Place". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  22. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000). "The Beastie Boys: Check Your Head". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 0-312-24560-2. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  23. ^ "20 Best Albums of the Year". Spin: 67. December 1992.
  24. ^ "The 1992 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. March 2, 1993. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  25. ^ "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s". Spin. September 1999. p. 124.
  26. ^ "Top 99 of '85-'95". Alternative Press: 81. July 1995.
  27. ^ "The 150 Best Albums of the 1990s". Pitchfork. September 28, 2022. Archived from the original on October 2, 2022. Retrieved October 22, 2022.
  28. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. September 22, 2020. Archived from the original on September 22, 2020. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  29. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  30. ^ "Beastie Boys Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  31. ^ "Beastie Boys Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  32. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Beastie Boys – Check Your Head". Music Canada. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  33. ^ "British album certifications – Beastie Boys – Check Your Head". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  34. ^ "American album certifications – Beastie Boys – Check Your Head". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 21, 2022.

External links edit