* Oddly, despite the overwhelming merits of their other work they would win this award for their contribution to Santana’s 1999 album, Supernatural. Their contribution being a song featuring Eagle-Eye Cherry entitled “Wishing It Was.”
It all begins with that rapid roll on the tom-toms: snipped from the opening seconds of drummer Alphonze Mouzon’s “Funky Snakefoot” off his 1974 album of the same name for Blue Note. Mouzon had been the drummer for McCoy Tyner before joining the initial ’71 lineup (alongside Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, Miroslav Vitous, and Airto Moreira) of jazz-fusion pioneers Weather Report.
Alphonze Mouzon’s “Funky Snakefoot”
———————(Click To Listen)
Drums – Alphonze Mouzon
Clavinet – Harry Whitaker
Piano – Leon Pendarvis*
Saxophone – Andy Gadsden
Trombone – Barry Rogers
Trumpet – Randy Brecker
Like it? Buy it.
Then, as Ad-Rock informs you that he can “[…] rock a house party at the drop of a hat” the sample that will serve as the backbone beat for the majority of the song kicks in: 1979’s “Dancing Room Only” by soul vocalist, songwriter, and arranger Harvey Scales*. Raised in Milwaukee, Scales spent the early ’70s recording singles for Stax and the Cadet Concept division of Chess Records before signing with Los Angeles based Casablanca Records. Taken from his second LP for that label, the disco-funky Hot Foot: A Funque Dizco Opera, the track’s drums supplied by Jeffrey Williamson serve to propel “Shake Your Rump” right on through to the other side of its dozen-plus samples, just as they urge the listener to comply with Scales’ command to “shake your you-know-what.”
* Leon Pendarvis has been a member of the Saturday Night Live Band since 1980 and now works as Co-Musical Director as well.
* Scales is noted as the first songwriter to have a single certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for the ’76 hit by Johnnie Taylor “Disco Lady,” which featured Parliament-Funkadelic members bassist Bootsy Collins, keyboardist Bernie Worrell, and guitarist Glen Goins (RIAA, 2012).
Dancing Room Only by Harvey Scales
———————(Click To Listen)
Produced, Arranged, and Written By – Harvey Scales, Melvin Griffin
Vocals – Harvey Scales
Bass – Robin Gregory
Conductor [Strings & Horns] – Melvin Griffin
Drums – Jeffrey Williamson
Guitar – Cedrick Rupert
Keyboards, Saxophone [Alto] – Melvin Griffin
Percussion – Shondu Akiem
Piano – William Scott Harralson
Saxophone [Baritone] – Ben Petry
Saxophone [Tenor] – Kenny Walker
Synthesizer – John Eidsvoog
Trombone – Kevin Lockett
Backing Vocals – L. C. Coney, Thomas Causey
– Harvey Scales, Melvin Griffin
With MCA’s emphasis on the word pimp in the line he shares with Mike D—“so like a pimp I’m pimpin’/I got a boat to eat shrimp in”—enters the cleverly sped-up and looped layer of Roland Bautista’s* funk-scratch rhythm guitar from saxophonist Ronnie Laws’ 1975 instrumental rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Tell Me Something Good*” Released by Blue Note, the album from which this track originates—Pressure Sensitive—would be Laws solo debut.
“Tell Me Something Good” by Ronnie Laws
———————————(Click To Listen)
Producer – Wayne Henderson
Saxophone – Ronnie Laws
Guitar – Roland Bautista
Clavinet – Joe Sample, Mike Cavanaugh
Electric Piano – Mike Cavanaugh
Synthesizer – Jerry Peters
Bass Guitar – Clint Mosley
Synthesizer – Jerry Peters
Tambourine – Joe Clayton
Like it? Buy it.
* Bautista was also a featured member on Last Days and Time, the 3rd studio album by American R&B group Earth, Wind & Fire, as well as playing on Tom Waits’ Blue Valentine and Heartattack and Vine.
* A year earlier, “Tell Me Something Good” had been a hit for the Chaka Khan incarnation of Rufus.
A clatter of cymbals and descending drum rolls spill into the frame as Ad-Rock and Mike D divvy up a single line, each taking only a few chunks out of the syllables before spitting it back and forth:
“Routines I bust and the rhymes that I write”
They then alley-oop the vocals over to MCA who steps up and rasps:
“And I’ll be busting routines and rhymes all night”
“Supermellow” by Paul Humphrey
“Super Mellow” by Paul Humphrey, Louis Bellson, Willie Bobo, and Shelly Manne
——————————————————–(Click To Listen)
The break-beat clatter that bestows the Beastie Boys’ rap with buoyancy has been clipped from the opening section to “Supermellow.” Composed and originally performed by Paul Humphrey as the title track for his ’73 solo debut released on Blue Thumb Records, the version utilized here however comes from 1975 when he rerecorded the song for The Drum Session LP, which featured a line-up partly comprised by three other all-star percussionists: drummer for Duke Ellington’s big-band, Louis Bellson; Spanish Harlem’s greatest conga player, Willie Bobo*; and the man who has played with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Tom Waits, Shelly Manne. Humphrey himself was a renowned studio musician who played with preeminent jazz artists like Wes Montgomery and Charles Mingus, as well as on Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats LP of ’69 and on the seduction masterpiece that is Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. The Drum Session also features Chuck Domanico on bass, Mike Wofford on keys, Jerome Richardson on sax and flute, and the incredible trumpet player Bobby Bryant whose cover of “Happiness is a Warm Gun” I discussed here.
“[…] rhymes all night”
MCA has hardly finished his sentence when Ad-Rock returns to the mic to rapidly deliver:
“Like eating burgers or chicken or you’ll be picking your nose
I’m on time, homey, that’s how it goes”
MCA and Mike D jump on the next line in unison:
“You heard my style I think you missed the point”
Then (extracted from Diana Ross & the Supremes’ ’69 single “No Matter What Sign You Are”) there’s the crude thap-thap-thap-thap-thap of a drum announcing The Bronx’s own Funky 4 + 1*, their marathon nine-minute party jam here boiled down to the three essential words needed to conclude this verse: IT’S THE JOINT!
* William “Bobo” Correa’s son, Eric, would end up joining the Beastie Boys’ touring line-up, as well as contributing percussion to their albums beginning with 1994’s Ill Communication.
* Funky 4 + 1 are noted not only for having a female MC, (Sha Rock) way back in ’76, but also for being the first hip hop group to appear on a national television show: a Valentine’s day episode of Saturday Night Live in 1981, hosted by Deborah Harry.
“6 O’Clock DJ (Let’s Rock)” by Rose Royce
———————(Click To Listen)
Like it? Buy it.
Suddenly the whole song is swallowed up by one of the thickest (and certainly the most tweaked out) bass notes you’ve ever heard. It rolls its sinuous weight across the steady backbeat, writhing its attenuated tail end until it twitches directly into another roll of the drums, which transports the Beastie Boys right back to front-and-center. Fattened and warped, this bass note is the brief but ominous Moog intro to Rose Royce’s 1:14 long instrumental “6 O’Clock DJ (Let’s Rock)” on their debut double album, the soundtrack to the 1976 comedy Car Wash, which guest starred both Richard Pryor and George Carlin. Creatively helmed by legendary Motown producer Norman Whitfield*, Rose Royce were in the process of recording their 1st album when Whitfield was hired to supply the score for director Michael Schultz’s follow-up feature to his “urban” high school comedy, Cooley High. Whitfield convinced the group to abandon their work-in-progress and allow him to compose new music for them that was closely tied to the film. They obliged and the world was rewarded with two discs of Rose Royce’s classy brand of funk.
* Whitfield is the producer and co-writer behind what Bob Dylan once characterized on his radio show Theme Time Radio Hour as “a jumbo jet of a song”: The Temptations’ #1 epic soul/head-trip, “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” A former coworker of mine, Ms. Walker, once turned to me half-speaking, half-singing the chorus “Papa was a rolling stone/Wherever he laid his hat was his home/and when he died, all he left us was alone,” before stating, “that’s some sad, fucked-up shit right there.” Really, who couldn’t help but agree.
As Mike D declares that he’s “back from the dead,” Rose Royce return with Lequeint “Duke” Jobe’s roundabout bass lick from another track on the Car Wash soundtrack: “Yo Yo.”
“Yo Yo” by Rose Royce
———————(Click To Listen)
Like it? Buy it.
The guitar groove of “Tell Me Something Good” reemerges as a series of parabolic frames for the clipped, rising and descending cadence of MCA’s insolent declarations of psychedelic independence despite the edicts of perception imposed by both the dollars behind him and the audience in front. Full to capacity with internal rhymes, the lines are all defiance with a smile:
A puppet on a string I’m paid to sing or rhyme
Or do my thing, I’m in a lava lamp inside the brain hotel
I might be freakin’ or peakin’ but I rock well
As the three recite a brief list of dance-steps the break-beat clatter alerts you that that monstrous Moog spawned bass is about to arrive, but first, to close MCA’s announcement that he’s “got the peg leg at the end of my stump,” comes the sample from which the songs takes its title: Afrika Bambaataa’s command that you “Shake your rump!”
In 1984, Afrika Bambaataa and James Brown released their six-part drum-machine-funk duet “Unity” for which the above video was made by Tom Pomposello, Marcy Brafman, and Peter Caesar by utilizing footage of the duo recording the song in Studio A at Unique Recording Studios, NYC. However, the video is for “Unity (Part 1: The Third Coming)” while the “Shake your rump” sample is actually snipped from “Unity (Part 2: Because It’s Coming).”
When the trio returns it’s to shout out the song’s original title of “Full Clout,” when it existed only as a Dust Brothers’ audio experiment, never imagining anyone would ever attempt to place vocals atop this insane, dense mosaic of disco funk. The sound of a bong-hit supplied by co-producer Matt Dike then introduces the third contribution by Rose Royce, again from the Car Wash soundtrack: “Born to Love You.”
- “Born To Love You” by Rose Royce
——————–(Click To Listen)
Like it? Buy it.
As Mike D states that he’s “running from the law, the press, and the parents,” a security guard at the Record Plant is brought in to ask, “is your name Michael Diamond?” to which he snidely replies, “No mine’s Clarence.” After the three share a hometown shout out of “downtown, Manhattan, the village,” the track is overwhelmed by the hoots and hollers of an entourage crowded vocal booth. Suddenly, save for the backbone drumbeat and the washtub-rub sounds of Afrika Bambaataa and the Jazzy Five’s “Jazzy Sensation” from 1981, the song becomes relatively quiet.
“Jazzy Sensation” by Afrika Bambaataa and the Jazzy Five
—————————————————————(Click To Listen)
Like it? Buy it.
Then, descending into the wind tunnel of “One of These Days” (the opening instrumental rave-up from Pink Floyd’s ’71 album Meddle), “Shake Your Rump” is just gone—. Dumped onto the folky strip-show swamp of David Bromberg’s “Sharon,” which serves as the primary musical element for Mike D’s tale of a washed-up rockabilly star now turned Manhattan vagrant by the name of “Johnny Ryall,” you’re still reeling from what you’ve just heard. You’ve just been gleefully bumped this way and that along the seamless series of dovetail joints that construct “Shake Your Rump” and now for you the art of music has been changed forever. “Changed into what?” You are not quite certain of the answer but you’re sure that something momentous had just occurred. Yet, the entire thing only lasted three minutes and eighteen seconds.
[I must note that after the completion of the writing of the above section, I came across this video in which Long Island’s DJ Funktual performs a similar vivisection, albeit a much more entertaining one:
As the album goes on until its full run-time of just seven minutes shy of an hour, your brain is delighted through a mosaic array of cultural references, associations, and intimations; both real and fictitious:
The “3-pack Bonanza” with its mysterious contents of three older pornographic magazines shrink-wrapped together and usually found in cheap bodegas and liquor stores.
the 7-Eleven chain convenience stores
Town drunk Otis Campbell (portrayed by Hal Smith) on The Andy Griffith Show.
The great Muhammad Ali
Adidas classic “Shell Toe” design.
Stanley Kubrick’s ’71 film adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel of sociopathic-social-commentary: A Clockwork Orange.
Australian rock band, AC/DC
Brooklyn’s annual street festival, The Atlantic Antic.
World champion racecar driver, Mario Andretti.
Sam the butcher and Alice from The Brady Bunch.
Travis Bickle, played by Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s superb 1976 film Taxi Driver.
Ballantine Ale brand of beer.
The Band’s 1969 single, “Up on Cripple Creek.”
David Bowie, his addiction of choice, and the mirrors used to facilitate that addiction.
The Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
Particularly the tale of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from Chapters 1–3 of the book of Daniel: The three young men who were tossed into a furnace by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, because they refused worship the golden image. They would burn as they were protected by an angel of God.
Chicago Bears’ legendary linebacker (1965-1973) Dick Butkus .
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) [Napoleon Crossing The Alps by Jacques Louis David]
Actor Raymond Burr’s portrayal of a wheelchair bound detective on the 70s NBC television series Ironside. [1974 TV Guide Magazine cover by Robert Peak]
Cadbury Easter Eggs
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ [The Christ of Saint John of the Cross by Salvador Dali, 1951]
Vaughn Bodé’s underground comic strip character, and self-proclaimed “Cartoon Messiah,” Cheech Wizard, which, beginning in 1967, was often featured in National Lampoon magazine until Bodé’s death in ’75.
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1968 ode to a riverboat, “Proud Mary.”
Tom Cushman, Long-time friend and member of MCA’s ’87-’88 side-project Brooklyn, which also featured Daryl Jenifer of Bad Brains, and Murphy’s Law drummer, Doug E. Beans.
Fonzie’s cousin, the Scott Baio portrayed Chachi on the television series Happy Days, who the received his own ’82-’83 spin-off, Joanie Loves Chachi
Charles Turner a.k.a. Chuck Chillout, influential DJ at New York’s 98.7 KISS-FM, who later In 1992 became a VJ for “Uncle” Ralph McDaniels’ Video Music Box.
Colonel Sanders and his Kentucky Fried Chicken (comedian Jerry Lewis is also mentioned).
Johnny Cash [Hugh Morton’s famous image of Johnny Cash holding aloft a tattered American flag. –NC, 1974]
Fastnacht, 1888, by French Post-Impressionist, Paul Cézanne (1839–1906).
French, All-inclusive Club Méditerranée.
Cadillac’s Coupe De Ville model (1959 through 1993).
Rudy Ray Moore and his most famous performance as Dolemite, in the 1975 film of the same name.
John Hough’s 1974 Dodge Charger featuring chase-film Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry.
Clint Eastwood, and his “Dirty Harry” series of films, initially released in 1971.
Dragnet, the radio, television, and film crime drama about L.A. detective, Sergeant Joe Friday, starring, created, and produced by Jack Webb. The series will always be remembered for its famous opening narration: “Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.”
El Diario, (literally “The Daily”) particularly El Diario la Prensa, with its offices at 1 MetroTech Center in Downtown Brooklyn, it is the largest and oldest Spanish-language daily newspaper in NYC, and the oldest Spanish-language daily in the United States.
“I’m just chillin’ like Bob Dylan.”
Bruce Willis and his reluctant-hero series of Die Hard films. The franchise, so far lasting over 20 years (with a new one to be released in 2013), all began in 1988 with Reginald VelJohnson’s (most famous for his portrayal as Carl Winslow on the sitcom Family Matters) shouts of “Shots fired at Nakatomi Plaza!”
Scottish psychedelic-troubadour and scenester Donovan
Victorian author and social critic Charles Dickens.
International doughnut and coffee retailer, Dunkin’ Donuts (with time-pressed mascot, Fred the Baker pictured).
George Drakoulias, A&R man at Def Jam who was involved in the signing of both L.L. Cool J and the Beastie Boys. He later went on to produce Shake your Money Maker, the debut album by The Black Crowes, and Dust, final album by Screaming Trees. Perhaps the most interesting trivia surrounding Drakoulias (other than the Beastie Boys claiming that they bought a hot-dog off him in “Stop That Train”) is that he was an inspiration for Billy Bob Thornton’s character “Big George Drakoulias” in the Johnny Depp starring, Jim Jarmusch directed “Psychedelic Western,” Dead Man.
[Stepping a little off-track here, this really is one of the finest films by all involved and is a must-see if you haven’t already.]
Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein.
Production team E.Z. Mike (Michael Simpson) and King Gizmo (John King), aka The Dust Brothers.
Cartoon series, The Flintstones (pictured here in a 1960s commercial for Winston Cigarettes).
Benjamin Franklin depicted harnessing the power of electricity in Benjamin West’s 1816 oil paniting, Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky.
Footwear company Fila, which the Beasties claim they “never rock,” as they are in favor of Adidas.
Fundamentalist televangelist and co-founder of the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell (pictured here with President Reagan). Upon Falwell’s death in 2007, friend (and courtroom opponent) Hustler Magazine founder Larry Flynt had this to say about the man: “My mother always told me that no matter how much you dislike a person, when you meet them face to face you will find characteristics about them that you like. Jerry Falwell was a perfect example of that. I hated everything he stood for, but after meeting him in person, years after the trial, Jerry Falwell and I became good friends. He would visit me in California and we would debate together on college campuses. I always appreciated his sincerity even though I knew what he was selling and he knew what I was selling.”
Fruit Striped Gum.
Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher Galileo Galilei (pictured here in Galileo facing the Roman Inquistion by Cristiano Banti, 1857).
The state of Arizona’s geological wonder, the Grand Canyon.
The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.
Bernhard Goetz, the controversial “Subway Vigilante” who on December 22, 1984, while riding the 2 Train, shot 4 teenage muggers. This incident occurred at a time when NYC had a reported crime rate over 70% higher than the rest of the U.S. In 1984, there were 2 homicides, 18 violent crimes, and 65 property thefts reported per 10,000 people.
The Beatles 1968 blister-inducing, proto-heavy-metal “Helter Skelter.”
Humpty Dumpty (ill. Here by John Tenniel), character from the famous nursery rhyme: Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall/Humpty Dumpty had a great fall/All the king’s horses and all the king’s men/Couldn’t put Humpty together again. However, more appropriately when discussing the general vibe of Paul’s Boutique, I present an excerpt from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There:
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’” Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course
you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice
knock-down argument for you!’”
“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,”
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a
scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither
more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words
mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute
Humpty Dumpty began again. “They’ve a temper, some of them
—particularly verbs, they’re the proudest—adjectives you can do
anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”
Escape-artist and magician (and Queens resident), Harry Houdini (1874-1926).
American motorcycle manufacturer, Harley-Davidson.
Guitar savant, Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) [photo by Gered Mankowitz, 1967]
The CBS produced Hawaii Five-O, which ran from 1968 to 1980.
Dr. Hfuhruhurr, portrayed by Steve Martin in Carl Reiner’s 1983 comedy The Man with Two Brains. Although, the reference is actually to a supposed brand of ale that bears his name.
The apparently multipurpose gelatin dessert, Jell-O.
NBC coming-of-age drama during the 1977-1978 season, James at 15.
“America’s most familiar law firm,” Jacoby & Meyers
Jamaica, Queens; where the Central Library of the Queens Borough Public Library and numerous stores like Young World and V.I.M are located.
Popular NYC mayor, Ed Koch, who held this office from1978 to 1989.
Kool menthol cigarettes.
the chain of discount stores, K-Mart
Literary figure, pioneer of the Beat Generation, and iconoclast inspiration for nearly every artist to develop after him, Jack Kerouac.
Commander of the USS Enterprise and intergalactic lover, Captain James T. Kirk (as played by William Shatner in the original Star Trek franchise).
Miss Crabtree (as played by June Marlowe) and the Little Rascals from the Our Gang shorts, which ran from 1922-1944.
Chuck Woolery, who hosted Love Connection from 1983 to 1994.
Psychologist, philosopher, and psychedelic advocate, Dr. Timothy Leary (photo by Pat York).
Lee Press-On Nails.
Rock‘n’roll spitfire, Jerry Lee Lewis.
Lee blue jeans and their famous patch.
World famous reggae and dancehall artist, Barrington Levy.
Mardi Gras parade floats (Photo by Grant L. Robertson).
1973 blaxploitation film, The Mack, starring Max Julien as “Goldie” and Richard Pryor as “Slim.”
North American chain of budget hotels, The Motel 6.
Fast-food empire, McDonald’s.
1960s British beat band, Manfred Mann, perhaps most famous for their 1964 #1 hit song “Do Wah Diddy Diddy.”
Hanna-Barberra cartoon character, Magilla Gorilla.
the New Orleans native of Creole ancestry who helped invent jazz music throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Jelly Roll Morton (1885-1941).
The world’s most famous reggae artist, Bob Marley (1945-1981).
The west coast’s Nix Check Cashing.
‘] `Zzw33x3xxEnglish physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and alchemist, Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) (Illustration by Jean-Leon Huens, for National Geographic).
Naguals, the spiritual/scientific leaders and protectors of Mesoamerican cultures like the Toltecs.
Anglican clergyman and author the abolition hymn “Amazing Grace,” John Newton (1725-1807).
Mad magazine poster-boy and pictorial depository for cultural criticism, Alfred E. Newman. He’s pictured above physically relating his motto of “What, me worry?” on the June 1975 cover of Mad Magazine #175.
A favorite in 40oz., O.E.
OTBs, now banned within NYC.
Sadaharu Oh, who holds the world career home run record of 868, as well as holding Japan’s single-season home run record of 55, set in 1964.
The coast-to-coast chain of fruit drink beverage stores, Orange Julius, which has been in operation since the late 1920s.
The ABC sitcom that ran a total of 104 episodes from 1963 until 1966, The Patty Duke Show. Child star Patty Duke (born in Elmhurst, Queens) went on to shock audiences with her portrayal of the drug-addicted singer “Neely O’Hara” in Mark Robson’s 1967 film Valley of the Dolls:
The Puma brand of footwear.
Elvis Presley and his 1956 single for RCA, “Blue Suede Shoes.”
MCA is seen here during the Licensed to Ill Tour, hanging from the marquee of legendary Manhattan nightclub, Palladium. Located on the south side of East 14th Street between Irving Place and Third Avenue, it is now a dormitory for NYU students. (photo by Sunny Bak).
Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon (1474–1521), often associated with the legend of the Fountain of Youth, reputed to be in Florida. [Illustration by F. R. Harper].
George Clinton’s Parliament and their 1975 LP Mothership Connection.
One of the greatest films of all time, Robert Downey, Sr.’s Putney Swope from 1969.
Extraordinary NYC photographer Ricky Powell (pictured here with Andy Warhol). Often referred as the “fourth Beastie Boy,” his reputation was further cemented with their lines: “Homeboy throw in the towel/Your girl got dicked by Ricky Powell.”
Forest Hills’ own punk rock legends, The Ramones, seen here performing at CBGB’s March 31, 1977 in a photo by Ebet Roberts.
The hip hop trendsetters from Hollis, Queens, Run DMC; seen here in Paris during the “Together Forever Tour.” (Photo by Ricky Powell, 1987).
Robotron: 2084, the popular arcade game released in 1982.
Drake’s Cakes’ Ring Dings.
The celebration of American muscle and bullets that is the Sylvester Stallone featuring “Rambo” film franchise. Above is the poster for 1988’s Rambo III, wherein Rambo aids Afghan rebels, the Mujahideen, to fight the Soviet invaders.
The Brothers Grimm fairy tale of Rapunzel.
The November 3, 1988 episode of Geraldo Rivera’s talk show that involved a full-out brawl between white supremacists, anti-racist skinheads, black activists, and Jewish activists.
New York Yankees Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto, and his TV ads for The Money Store.
Rolo, the chocolate candy with a caramel center.
The chain of seafood restaurants, Red Lobster.
Outlaw hero of English folklore, Robin Hood, who would steal from the rich to give to the poor.
Children’s book author and illustrator, Dr. Seuss (1904-1991); depicted here alongside his most famous creation at The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in his birthplace of Springfield, MA—which I had the good fortune to visit once. These statues were created by sculptor Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, who also happens to be Dr. Seuss’s step-daughter.
Looney Tunes’s iconic half-pint hot-head with the itchy trigger-fingers, Yosemite Sam.
Shea Stadium, baseball park for the New York Mets from 1964 to 2008.
The Starkist tuna company
Dave Scilken (the one with the Mohawk) who was a childhood friend of Adam Horovitz and member of Ad-Rock’s original group The Young and The Useless. Dying of a drug-overdose in 1991, the Beastie Boys 1992 album Check Your Head is dedicated to him.
David Berkowitz, better known as the serial killer Son of Sam. Between July of 1976 and until his arrest in August 1977, Berkowitz prowled New York City, killing six people and wounding several others in the course of eight shootings with a .44 Caliber handgun. Upon his arrest he claimed that he was commanded to kill by a demon that had possessed his neighbor’s dog.
St. Anthony’s Feast
Kew Gardens songwriter, Paul “Rhymin’”Simon.
80’s straight edge hardcore band, S.S. Decontrol.
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), writer of Gulliver’s Travels, and A Modest Proposal, a satirical essay that suggests that impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies.
American author, J.D. Salinger (1919-2010) best known for the novel, The Catcher in the Rye, and my favorite, Franny and Zooey.
Pentecostal evangelist (and cousin to Jerry Lee Lewis), Jimmy Swaggart.
1973 film, Shamus, starring Burt Reynolds as the hard-nosed private detective Shamus McCoy.
Russell Simmons, co-founder of pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam, founder of the Phat Farm clothing company, and also owner of Rush Artist Management—referenced in the song “Car Thief” with the lines: “…I had to deal with a money hungry mieser had a ‘caine filled Kool with my man Russ Rush.”
tie dye t-shirts
American business magnate, and somehow celebrity, Donald Trump (pictured here on the night of June 27, 1988 for the Tyson Vs. Spinks Fight).
Gonzo journalist and author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005).
Landlord Ralph Furley, as portrayed by Don Knotts on sitcom Three’s Company, which ran from 1977 to 1984.
English folklore character (and the first fairy tale printed in English) Tom Thumb. The name was appropriated by Charles Sherwood Stratton (1838-1883), who, as General Tom Thumb, achieved great fame under circus pioneer P.T. Barnum.
33rd President of the United States (1945–1953) Harry S. Truman (1884-1972). As it turns out, The “S” did not stand for anything, but was chosen as his middle initial to please both his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.
1887 self portrait by Dutch post-Impressionist painter, Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), who was completely disregarded during his lifetime but is now hailed as a true visionary of the art.
Raymond White, aka Runny Ray of Run DMC’s crew
Whippets: the recreational drug used by inhaling a steel cylinder or cartridge filled with nitrous oxide (N2O)—a popular recreation for the crew behind Paul’s Boutique.
A 1986 ad for French fashion house founded in 1854 by its namesake, Louis Vuitton.
ABC sitcom Welcome Back Kotter, which ran from 1975 to 1979 and launched the career of John Travolta.
All-star Hawthorne Wingo, who played for the New York Knicks from 1973-1976.
The Bronx based Major League Baseball team the New York Yankees.
Farmer, Max Yasgur, best known as the owner of the dairy farm in Bethel, New York at which the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was held between August 15 and August 18, 1969.
Houston, Texas rock group, ZZ Top, comprised of the phenomenal musicians, Billy Gibbons (guitar and vocals), Dusty Hill (bass and vocals), and Frank Beard (percussion).
And these are only some of the references made through the lyrics; the music itself floods your mind with a concurrent ribbon of references and associations. For a culturally inquisitive kid growing up in NYC, the album presented a map for certain chambers and corridors of your mind–and it presented signposts suggesting where to look next. Although steeped in nostalgia, the album utilizes this nostalgia as a platform with which to leap forward; and it compels you to laugh as you leap. It is in fact this sort of informational mosaic that is alluded to in the faux-erudition of this blog’s tagline: the product of an upright hominid with a palimpsest encephalon.
Furthermore, for the same snotty kids behind Licensed to Ill, the album is noticeably devoid of insults. Exuberant, the Beastie Boys are “cool,” but with none of the exclusivity that typically is associated with that label. They are still fighting for their right to party, but it is a party that they truly want you to attend with them.
“Every now and then a clear harmonic cry gave new suggestions of a tune that would someday be the only tune in the world and would raise men’s souls to joy.”
——————— from On The Road by Jack Kerouac.
Art has many purposes, innumerable reasons for being, and The Beastie Boys here fulfilled a function like that of Louis Armstrong, or Charlie Chaplin—in the words of a master of this art, Mark Twain—they: “[…] excite the laughter of God’s creatures.”
Paul’s Boutique is a masterpiece of modern music, with a modern sense of acceptance and inclusion of both the high- and low-brow, both the stars and the intestines; and its poor reception would nearly end the Beastie Boys’ career.
—TO BE CONTINUED—
Stay tuned for Side B of I’VE BEEN COMING TO WHERE I AM FROM THE GET GO: Part II! Where we will further explore the creation of Paul’s Boutique and the architects behind the Sounds of Science!
REST IN PEACE