Salt Lake Tribune, June 5, 1992
By Catherine Reese:
The Beastie Boys have news for those who considered them a one-hit
wonder after "Fight for Your Right (to Party)" helped make them the
biggest-selling rap act up to that time. Even when Licensed to Ill (the 1986 album that featured "Fight for
Your Right") was at the height of its popularity, the irony of the
Beasties' appeal--three well-heeled young Jewish men invading the
genre of the black ghetto--seemed destined to run its course
quickly. But six years later, here they are with their third album, Check Your
Head--hailed by Rolling Stone magazine as "a glorious train wreck
of styles"--and a tour that includes a concert in Salt Lake City
"If people think it's a novelty, maybe they should go to one of our
shows," the group's Michael Diamond, otherwise known as Mike D, said
in a recent phone interview. "Maybe they could start their own puppet
show if they want novelty."
Though the Beasties insist they were never gone, many regard Check
Your Head as a sort of comeback, given the band's three-year breaks
between albums and the relative commercial disappointment of 1989's
Paul's Boutique. Reviews generally have been favorable, and Check
Your Head debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard pop chart.
The new album incorporates a smorgasbord of styles, from good
old-fashioned rap to organ-driven jazz to punk to psychedelia to
industrial hard core; Village Voice called it the best punk album
since The Clash's 1979 landmark London Calling. It also finds the
three Beastie Boys playing their own instruments--the 26-year-old
Mr. Diamond on drums, King Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz, 25) on guitar and
MCA (Adam Yauch, 27) on bass. "It's really given us the ability to
articulate all kinds of ideas," Mr. Diamond said. Augmenting the
concert-tour lineup are a percussionist, a disc jockey and keyboardist
Money Mark Nishita.
Mr. Diamond predicted that Saturday's concert at the Utah State
Fairpark Horticulture Building will be "a good hour and a half of
sexy, sweaty, sexy music."
"We do pretty much everything," he said. "We cover a lot of Steve
Miller songs at the end of the show, and we have a lot of songs by the
Marshall Tucker Band. We've got this new song, a Marshall Tucker song
about lynching white people."
The Beasties' notorious stage show--with caged dancing girls, a
giant hydraulic phallus, and the rappers spraying fans with beer--reportedly is a thing of the past, along with much of the gratuitous
rudeness of yore.
Right after Licensed to Ill was released, Mr. Diamond said, "there
was an element of people who came to our shows just to check it out.
Now pretty much everyone who comes to the shows knows all our
material. Also we get a lot of people who are really good with dance
steps--not as good as MC Serch (of rap group 3rd Bass), but they're
"It's like the La Brea Mosh Pit at every show. It's all a mix. All
different kinds of weirdos. We get the weird skate kids, the mosh pit,
the Betty Crocker kids, the crayon kids."
Though the Beastie Boys had their origins in Manhattan (in a teen
hard-core band called The Young and the Useless), they now operate out
of Los Angeles. "We went there when we were doing Paul's Boutique
and we never left," Mr. Diamond explained. Mr. Horovitz has an acting
career on the side; his latest film, "Roadside Prophets," comes to
Salt Lake City's Tower Theater next Friday.
This will be the Beasties' first Utah appearance, though Mr. Yauch has
been here to ski. "I heard Salt Lake City is a good place to buy
records," Mr. Diamond said. (Virtually every story on the group
mentions its members' passion for vinyl.) "Denver is actually supposed
to be one of the best cities in the country for buying records. So I'm
kind of excited about the region."
A long-form video, "The Skills to Pay the Bills," will be released the
same day as the Salt Lake concert.
"The video is pretty cool," Mr. Diamond said. "It's all mixed. It's
got our new videos. It's the home video. But then we also have a lot
of old and unreleased stuff on there too, like some of our hard core
from our first hardcore records, and things from Paul's Boutique,
so it's a pretty cool compilation."
Mr. Diamond is also enthusiastic about a European tour with the
Rollins Band, scheduled to begin as soon as the U.S. tour ends.
"It's a little mutual-respect society we've got going with us and the
Rollins Band," he said. "A lot of people, when they hear we're touring
together, say, 'Don't you think that's pretty different?' My argument
is that the outward trimmings might seem a little different, but we
share a lot more than people think in terms of all the different types
of music we each bring."
Saturday's show at the Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West, begins at 7:30 p.m.
Opening acts are Big Chief and Fuschnickens. Tickets are $15.50.