for a generation or two, today brought some truly sad news. Adam Yauch, also known as MCA, passed away this evening. the exact circumstances of his death are unknown, but it was known that he had been fighting cancer for the past few years. whatever the cause or reason for his departure, may he be free of pain and at peace.
a good friend of mine (see, i told you i would keep it anonymous, Jonathan Granville) described The Beastie Boys as the "Sex Pistols of our generation". it depends on your point of view, for the likes of Sigue Sigue Sputnik and indeed my beloved Frankie Goes To Hollywood could claim a similar title depending on how you look at them, but i am quite inclined to agree. whereas the Pistols started in controversy and faded very quickly, though, the Beasties gained instant infamy when the BBC unwisely decided to show the uncut Fight For Your Right To Party video at around 7pm one night, but endured and remained as a successful, certainly influential music force for the next 25 or so years.
the interweb, being what it is, shall no doubt be filled with tributes and the like over the next few days. i can't add much beyond what i have said above, really. if MCA had two wishes, the first would no doubt be along the lines of not being in a physical state where tributes were being written. the second, though, would that rather than be mourned he would hope that people just enjoy all that he gave to the band. as the Beastie Boys sold some 40 million records, there's little doubt that many did enjoy what they did. if you're a starter, or are just vaugely aware of him and the band, here's a few tips.
before we get to the music, the videos. a little known fact is that Adam Yauch directed the majority of the Beastie Boys videos under a peculiar pseudonym, one that he went to great lenghs to protect - even hiring an actor to play the director every now and then. to say that the videos were often as entertaining as the music is a huge understatement - arguably the band won many, many fans who would never normally dream of buying something called "hip hop" or "rap" with the innovative, wildly entertaining and often flat out funny videos. if you can find it anywhere, the Video Anthology, also released as The Criterion Collection, contains most of the videos.
Fight For Your Right is a notable omission from the above collection, but who cares when you have Intergalactic and arguably the greatest ever music video, Sabotage, right there to watch again and again?
on the music front, oddly not so long ago i put what i consider to be their best album on in the car and had every intention of doing a post here about it. that would be their second album, Paul's Boutique. what a cover the album had!
with the controversy of Fight For Your Right a thing of the past, this album did not sell in any huge numbers at first, but glowing reviews and artists from every genre of music you can think of mentioning it and its influence saw it get accepted as a modern classic, eventually selling as well as anything else they did. its vast, expansive scope, its witty lyrics, intelligent sampling, get up and dance beats and truly staggering audacity had me fall in love with it the first time i heard it, and it is a love that simply has not faded.
suggesting which Beastie Boys albums one should buy is really, however, as easy as saying "all of them". a good compromise, however, is the ace 2 CD Sounds Of Science anthology.
if i tell you it features their cover of Elton John's Benny And The Jets, one that they so nearly manage to do whilst keeping straight faces, i trust i have told you enough to interest you in giving it a try?
maybe my friend is right when he descibes them as "the Pistols of our generation". now that i think, my parents were fine with my purchases of Frankie, Sputnik and indeed Motorhead, but were a bit concerned when the Beasties caught my attention. they didn't stop me, of course, but they "expressed concern". how strange the world turns that the band have recently been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, something normally reserved for "safe" and friendly acts.
i assume, indeed hope, that right now a gang of mates are messing about with music, and one day the current generation will have someone to look at in awe, wonder and thanks like we did with Adam Yauch and the Beasties. another musician coming along that is full worthy of being described as being as innovative, influential and as talented as MCA is perhaps the single best tribute to Mr Yauch that could happen.
be excellent to each other. enjoy every sandwich.