Beastie Boys: The Series – Hello Nasty (1998)

The Preamble:

It took four years for the B-Boys to follow up the monster of a record that was Ill Communication with another studio album proper (though they were hardly idle in that time), and I can remember a few friends quite concerned that they were done, that they couldn’t/wouldn’t do it. These conversations only happened because these friends really cared what happened to the Boys, and were just hoping they wouldn’t lose it.

Silly people, this is the BEASTIES.

So, Sir Earl Of Swirl, have we reached your chosen point of excitement, with this record? Or have I missed my guess?

Also, there’s lots of info here.

And all the samples used are listed here.

The Review:

First off, a statement: This Should Have Been A Double Album. Think about it for a minute. What’s the best way to follow the record that gave you your Fuck You money? Hm? Double album. Go big, or go frickin’ home. Music history is littered with bands that went ambitiously into the fray, largely with great success. I’m sure you can name a few.

So, and stay with me here, if you took the tracks from Aglio E Olio (and surely there were even more than those on hand, somewhere), and mixed it all together with what ended up being Hello Nasty, you’d have a well-timed double album that would strip paint, deflower virgins and send satellites off course with its sheer mighty power. Of course, this is just my humble opinion. No one ever asks me how to do these things, at the time. I wish they would, but they don’t.

What we did get, however, was Hello Nasty. (Paint, virgins and satellites remain in peril).

And I have to be honest, at first I didn’t really like it. I don’t know why. I wish I could tell you. But my buddy Brian bought it and loved it and I heard it and passed on it. I’m trying hard to think of what the hell else I could have been listening to in 1998 to make me think that (probably a lot of radiohead’s OK Computer), but whatever it was, it wasn’t too long before I came around. And I was fully aboard once I got there. This is one helluva bomb going off in your stereo. A funk bomb. An awesome bomb. Check it out:

Super Disco Breakin’ skips and jumps in pure Beastie beauty. This is a party track! You know this song. This all folds beautifully into…

The Move, more of the same level of awesome. The bass here is huge. And they shout-out Toulouse-Lautrec, which pleases me. Add the fun Spanish thing at the end as intro to…

Remote Control, which was a single and you’ll know it well. It has that totally memorable riff, which seems so simple. It’s just a great jam, walking-pace perfect.

Song For The Man is a jazzy soul track that plays like an interlude, even though it’s still three minutes long. Cool stuff.

Just A Test is a great club track… just picture flashing lights and a dancehall with everyone jumping in time to the music…

Body Movin’, another single, is one you surely know. It’s a cool groove, complete with dance instructions, scratching, chipmunk-like vocals on the chorus…

Which leads us to the big single…

Intergalactic. I don’t need to say a word about this one, do I? You just got it in your head, didn’t you! Wow. What a huge track, and pure Beasties. It had a great video, too. I love the switch at 2:35… “mmmm drop?” So fun. There’s a silly little tag-on, too, which leads us into…

Sneakin’ Out The Hospital, a simple instrumental line with some noise experiments over top.

Putting Shame in Your Game’s wide open, big room sound, with booming bottom end, gives their raps lots of space. This one is actually pretty trippy.

Flowin’ Prose’s sweet funk groove almost hides the whispered vocals. It’s a cool effect.

And Me has a reggae-like feel, but more electronic. (Duh?) It’s definitely a departure, though, but not unlikeable.

And then we move into another huge song…

Three MCs And One DJ. You know this one. From the Mix Master Mike phone message intro right on down.. Go! Hell yeah.

The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin’) shuffles smoothly along, pure Beasties slathered in scratching and noises and, at points, a gospel-like vocal. It breaks down into beat boxing and then outta breath…

Songs For Junior always totally reminds me of Santana’s Oye Como Va. A Sweet instrumental jam, this one.

I Don’t Know’s cool acoustic intro picks up where Songs For Junior left off. Listen to this singer-songwriter ballad-like song, with Miho Hatori on vocals, and be a little disoriented. This is Beasties? Sounds more like the exact opposite. Which is why it works.

The Negotiation Limerick File brings back the Beasties’ forté: sweet groove, all three of them rapping over top. I really like the music, here.

Electrify is a song I’ve always thought sounds like what would happen if you let Tom Waits write a track for the B-Boys. I could be way off, in that thinking, but it’s just wonky enough…

Picture This is a great 70s lounge track, with smooth vocals from a lady named Brooke Williams. A nice interlude, into…

Unite, another great Beastie Boys anthem that’s sure to keep the party hoppin’. I like the feel of this one very, very much. “Ravers of the world unite!”

Dedication is a fun enough track musically, but pretty lazy, lyrically. They’re just shouting out place names. Upper Tasmania? Check. Gloucester, Massachusetts? Check. Ooookay, it’s the equivalent of listening to them read an atlas as they randomly flip pages open and point at places. The only cool one was “Newcastle… where Venom come from (sic)…” Yes, the B-Boys shouted-out Venom. Probably because they sampled them on CYH, as much as they’re hardcore music fans. Anyway.

Dr. Lee, PhD. features Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and totally sounds like it. A sweet reggae slow jam. At this point in this huge, sprawling, sweaty and dripping record, anything at all would have worked. Instead, they chose greatness. Of course.

And finally, Instant Death is a plinky little number, a slow build of more quiet and whispering that becomes (eventually) a bit of a drum freak-out before fading back out, lightly. Could they have ended this record with Dr. Lee? Probably. Anyway.

Whew.

In sum: Holy fuck. Anyone worried they wouldn’t be able to follow up its predecessor can rest at ease. This motherfucker of a record is huge, it’s vast, and it’s all kinds of awesome. ALL KINDS.

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Posted on June 9, 2014, in posts by aaron and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Great review but I still don’t like this LP, I’ve tried a lot too. In fact it’s the only BB record I don’t own on vinyl. I saw them a couple of times on this tour and the tracks were a bit better live but, overall, it’s a bit Mehhh for me. They could have done with leaving the hardcore in.

    Like

    • Agreed on the hardcore. Hence the double album idea. It would have been HUGE. Anyway.

      I try not presume to tell you what to do with your listening time, but I would suggest a revisit to this massive effort would be worth your time in 2014. I think you’ll find it far better than you recall it being. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • You presume to tell ME what to listen to?!! ME, 1537, ruler of the universe!! Oh… hang on, sorry this isn’t my blog. Okay I promise to listen to it once at the weekend.

        I do like the Lee Perry one a bit though.

        Like

      • Man, I felt the gale force winds and saw the lightning, there… Hahaha. But you’re on my turf now, Oh Almighty 1537, and around here we’re… well, we’re pretty open-minded about stuff. Still, I’ll bet it gives you good vibes. GIVE ‘ER!

        Like

  2. In 1998 you were into Jewel, I think?

    Like

    • Man you are never gonna let me forget that. Sigh. OK yes, everyone, I bought a Jewel CD off of Mike and he’ll never let me live it down. He even made me promise to wait a week before I could return it to him (which I did). It’s funny, you know, I go through these singer-songwriter phases and apparently she was one of them. Especially cute singer songwriters and boobs. I think I even have her records again, here, somewhere.

      Anyway, yes. I bought Jewel. HEY INTERNET I BOUGHT JEWEL! I also own Lionel Richie, REO Speedwagon, Fine Young Cannibals, Richard Marx and Air Supply. Im telling you, I’ll listen to aything, and I have reasons for all of them.

      Whew. Now I’m out of the schlock closet, I feel so free. 😉

      Like

      • Even better, that Jewel CD I bought?

        Are you ready for it?

        It was in a JEWEL CASE.

        Like

      • Oh man, I love that I posted a sentence and I got two paragraphs back! Yeah, I guess I just haven’t let that one go! I was also disappointed that you sold it so quickly. I wanted to make sure you gave it a fair shake! (I only care, for my favourite customers.)

        Like

      • Haha it just comes up every now and again so I thought I’d come out of the schlock closet. I do remember some small concern with my buying it, like “really? Dude?” But there was mockery too, like “really? Dude?” You should have been with me when I buying CDs for $1.99 from a bin in a cool record shop on Ste-Catherine in Montreal. I got some real winners that way, lemme tell you! But it was a case of trying everything, seeing what fit. It levelled off (we left Montreal, fools as we are). Funny how it goes.

        Like

  3. I haven’t heard this record in a long, long time. Your enthusiastic review has me revisiting soon though!

    I’m going to give Record labels your number so they can ask you important questions!

    Like

    • Definitely recommend a revist. I said the same to 1537. My memory of it was of a record I hadn’t liked either, but I grew to love it. It has different charms than their other records, but they are no less charming. I’m really glad I got to play this for the purposes of review. It’s a massive record, a killer.

      Please do tell them my number. Man, I’m just FULL of ideas!

      Like

    • Also, Dude, I’d be giving them YOUR number long before they got mine. Imagine Lebrain working for a label, advising bands on tracks to include for this proliferation of deluxe editions. He’d get it done RIGHT! And he might even get freebies. Mike, your calling is calling you.

      Like

  4. ….on hands and knees scrubbing floor…
    Just like this extended ‘pee’ joke I’ve done for a few posts, I was SO impatient waiting for this to drop. Check Your Head and Ill Communication had been climbing my personal charts, I was constantly finding new things to like. I kept seeing video clips of them touring, or mini-interviews where they talked about recording this. Normally I’m a shrewd (cheap), cagey (will wait a long time to get it cheap) buyer because of how much of my income goes to music. I bought this immediately at full price, …..and……… I …….HATED IT. No “Root Down” organ jams, no short punk, none of the N.Y.C. “melting pot” flava that I expected and craved. Stuck it on the shelf of disappointment and forgot about it.
    The INTERGALACTIC video started worming it’s way into my ear, and I took the CD down off the shelf to give it another chance. This, in my opinion, is the Beasties “finding their voice”- the album that bands do after extended touring, playing material from several huge-selling albums, and wanting to do something NEW. I remember the same shock of cold water when a newly-bald Peter Gabriel splashed our faces with the alien-sounding “Intruder” album. This is still very recognizable Beasties, but there’s a fresh open-ness here. The dense samples that evoked noisy, urban Noo Yawk are mostly gone, replaced with euro-synths, and exotic worldly sounds. It’s meant to find find a new broader audience without alienating the old one. This is the Boyz leaving their home town and taking their place on the World Stage, and if not for the untimely death of Adam, who knows what would come next.
    (climbs down from his soapbox, drops mike on floor with loud thud)…..I’m Ouuuut!

    Like

    • I just KNEW this was the one for which you were waiting! I appreciate your scrubbing the floor. It needed it anyway. 😉

      Another one who didn’t immediately love it, no big surprise there. I get the disappointment at the time, I felt it too.

      Kudos to you for pointing out something major that I neglected in my review. You see, something was nagging me, as I listened, and I didn’t even mention it because for the life of me I couldn’t have told you what it was, but you nailed it – the NYC grit is gone. Not completely, but largely. Oh the trademark sass and sneer is still there, but you’re absolutely right it’s in the samples. The melting pot to which we had become accustomed had changed!

      Far from being one-trick ponies, probably the Boys just matured a bit. Branched out in their own listening, discovered new things touring the world, and it all came back with them and ended up sounding like this. As you said, wanting to do something new. I’m all for it. Bands can get trapped trying to repeat themselves, and even the B-Boys had a form that could do with some breaking. They managed it.

      And, if they’d just followed my double album advice, the hardcore would have been there too. Sigh.

      I’m saving my Adam stuff until I reach the end of this series. I can’t face it now. But you’re right, who knows where they’d have gone next. Probably back to hardcore haha.

      Thanks for chiming in on this, you’ve added to the conversation mightily. Hello Nasty is worthy of the discography, I swear it!

      I’ll go pick up that mic for you. 😉

      Like

      • Thanks macho grande (“I’ll never get over macho grande”) for the kudos, and letting me take up so much space on your review.:)
        One more thing; while I agree in principle about the hardcore, it might have undercut the attempt at new markets. I witnessed the Britney Spears demographic squealing “that’s that innagalactic song! EeeeeIluvit!!” in the record shop. B-Boys couldn’t make with the freak-freak to sell to them, and probably figured we would be content with more EPs.

        Like

      • Oh man, we welcome all comments here, especially insightful ones from fans! Take all the space you need. Wear that soapbox out!

        The lack of hardcore would maybe have undercut new markets, but the Boys had built a market of their own with people who loved when they did that stuff. I wonder. Their choice, or a label telling them to shift gears? They were a HOT property by then. Shame if they were told, I prefer to think of them as doing what THEY want. And if that is the case, that they chose to have it that way themselves, well, then they made the record they wanted to make and fair play to them. We still got the tracks, not like we can really complain. And with CD-R, I can make my own damn Hello Nasty!

        The Britney demo can really grate, can’t they. Ugh.

        Like

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