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Track-By-Track

A Track-By-Track Guide To Beastie Boys' Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
Colin McKean , April 18th, 2011 10:50

Two weeks before the Beastie Boys release Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, Colin McKean gives their eighth studio album the track-by-track treatment

'Make Some Noise'

The chunky groove is a declaration of intent from Ad Rock's opening volley: "Here we go again give you more nothin' lesser / Back on the mic it's the anti-depressor," to MCA's familiar Brooklyn roar: "We're gonna party for the motherfuckin' right to fight." It's block-rocking jazz-funk hardcore: the Beastie Boys at their purposeful best.

'Nonstop Disco Powerpack'

A crisp breakbeat, nagging cowbell and depth-charge bass gradually soften in focus under layers of echo, the trio's vocals eventually becoming similarly submerged. It's ethereal, dislocated even – an effect the band will return to over the course of the album.

'OK'

A sinuous, new-wavey production – frazzled-sounding hi-hats and lead synths perform in sizzling counterpoint to bow-wowing Juno stabs.

'Too Many Rappers'

This Nas/Beastie Boys collaboration (first heard in 2009) doesn't look great on paper. If Nas was at his best, it's hard to see how his labyrinthine narratives and languid flow could possibly fit in with the band's intricate tag teaming. Were the Beasties at theirs, one wonders why they'd need anyone to augment their dizzyingly fertile collective imagination. In truth, 'Too Many Rappers' is simply a muscular Beastie Boys production – Nas's rhymes are barely phoned-in. It's painful to say of the once-febrile mind behind Illmatic, but his contributions here are so perfunctory – and so superficial – he might as well have Tweeted them in.

'Say It'

Every dial sounds like it's pushing 11, from the chugging guitars to the overdriven vocals. There's nothing wrong with the track as such, although it doesn't achieve anything that isn't better realised on Ill Communication or Check Your Head. After a promising start, Hot Sauce… is starting to sound a bit Beasties-by-numbers and...

'The Bill Harper Collection'

...Is a skit, which doesn't help.

'Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win'

The band largely takes a backseat as Santigold brings some refreshing femininity and the loping beat provides a little welcome variety.The bumping ska has a slightly drunken dad-dancing quality to it, which the Beastie Boys wear quite well.

'Long Burn The Fire'

It's hard not to interpret Adam Yauch's rhyme about antihistamines, sharks' teeth and tigers' claws as a reflection on his recent battle with cancer. While he raps about his imperturbability and spits with characteristic bravado, the prevailing sense is of a man shaken by the recognition of his own mortality.

'Funky Donkey'

This feels like a bit of a non-event by comparison – despite its bedrock of whomping bass, steel drums and electric harpsichord the track never really feels like it's going anywhere.

'The Larry Routine'

Is another skit.

'Tadlock's Glasses'

Mooted previously as the album's title, 'Tadlock's Glasses' is a particular oddity. Booming yet strangely disconsolate – somewhat redolent of Nochexx's off-kilter productions – the band's vocals are the only especially familiar anchor point. A whole album of tracks like this might have been intolerable, but it's the first sign of the Beastie Boys trying anything significantly different on this record.

'Lee Majors Come Again'

Flag-fast punk, a reminder – if one was needed – that the Beastie Boys began their career opening for bands like Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys and the Misfits. The track is largely forgettable, but few records will be released on major labels this year by artists the previous statement can be made about.

'Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament'

A pretty (almost) instrumental: another robotic vocal low in the mix, over probing bass and bubbling synths.

'Here's A Little Something For Ya'

What it lacks in lyrical inventiveness: "Ready get set, get set, get set / Place your bet, your bet, your bet, your bet," it makes up for as a tension-builder – the clocking cowbells and gelatinous synths grinding inexorably towards the album's final movement.

'Crazy Ass Shit'

The heaving bass and swirling chord samples threaten to break into walloping ragga – persistent woodblocks and a child's vocal adding to the disconcerting production. The track is short and direct, and there's an urgency to it that has been lacking for much of the rest of the album.

'The Lisa Lisa / Full Force Routine'

The intro's strident breakbeat suddenly folds backwards on itself, rewinding to the start before segueing into 'Full Force Routine' – a driving jam with some of the album's most frenetic vocal interplay that lasts all of 27 seconds, before stopping as abruptly as it started.

The Beastie Boys have made some wonderful records, as well as some slightly indifferent ones. Hot Sauce Committee… has its feet in both camps. When they released Licensed to Ill in 1986, Rolling Stone reviewed the album under the headline 'Three Idiots Create a Masterpiece'.

The band are entering their fourth decade spent straddling the alternative(ish) end of the pop music spectrum. They have, at points been silly, puerile and sexist, while their contrariness has remained largely consistent. They have also, increasingly, displayed rare humour, dignity and integrity. The thoughts they externalise through their rhymes – whether braggadocio or whimsy – still combine luminous intelligence with a little stupidity, and it's that balance which still gives them an at times profound humanity. They're showing no signs of becoming one now and, whatever Rolling Stone might have said back in the day, they've clearly never been idiots.

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