Paul's Boutique (20th Anniversary Edition)

Beastie Boys

Captiol, 2009

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


In 1988, America was sick of the Beastie Boys. Their overexposure on MTV during their Licensed To Ill era was most likely the biggest reason for America’s Beastie fatigue. Other reasons could have been fickle teenagers who moved on to another genre: metal. And with that genre came a flock of bad boys to follow, including Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses.

The Beastie Boys themselves didn’t help matters. Even if the band went with conventional wisdom and recorded another Licensed To Ill, chances were almost certain it wouldn’t sell nearly as well as its predecessor. With that in mind, the band opted to record an album that, for almost five years, was considered to be that decade’s standard bearer for career suicide albums. Paul’s Boutique certainly had the markings of a career suicide album at the time. First, the band pissed off its local New York fanbase by moving to Los Angeles of all places to record. Secondly, the band liberally embraced the sounds of the ‘70s, a decade reviled by the ‘80s much like the way in which the ‘90s reviled the ‘80s. Finally, the band recorded an album that was at least five years ahead of its time.

Of course, if you follow the Beastie Boys and music in general, you know how the story panned out. The Beastie Boys’ follow-up to this disc, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Check Your Head, was a perfectly-timed album in the age of grunge, forcing fans who abandoned the Beastie Boys in the late ‘80s to give this album another listen. Then in 1995, Beck, with the help of Paul’s Boutique producers The Dust Brothers, released Odelay. That album was so well received, people began to discover Paul’s Boutique just because they heard The Dust Brothers produced the album.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Paul’s Boutique, Capitol rereleased the album. Unfortunately, Capitol decided to mark this rerelease just as other defining albums of the ‘90s were given the deluxe release treatment (namely Pearl Jam’s Ten and Radiohead’s OK Computer and The Bends). Unlike these other rereleases, this release contains no new tracks. The sound quality, though slightly improved, doesn’t merit another purchase if you already have the CD, unless you are a die-hard fan and have a good enough stereo system on hand to hear the difference. Finally, the other extra, the audio commentary from the band about the recording of the album can be freely accessed from the band’s Website.

So why buy this album again? Well, for starters the packaging is beautiful. The slightly fuzzy photo of the original album cover is now richly detailed without losing of its hazy, stoner charm. Secondly, if you already purchased the CD, chances are its accumulated enough scratches to prevent a full listen without skipping. Finally, unlike other current reissues, this deluxe treatment is reasonably priced.

The only drawback is the band’s decision to break their final track “B-Boy Bouillabaisse” into nine tracks. In the age of the iPod shuffle, this means instead of hearing the full ten-minute-plus epic, you will hear a one- to two-minute snippet. True, the band shouldn’t need to bend to the workings of a music player, but the track was just fine as a ten-minute piece.

This disc and De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising were two high water marks for rap. Some music geeks claim that this album couldn’t have been released in this age due to legal restrictions on sampling, but artists like Girl Talk pretty much dispel that belief. Rap haters used to chastise artists for being unoriginal because of their reliance on samples. Paul’s Boutique pretty much killed that argument. In one of the great examples of poetic justice in music: Paul’s Boutique, an album thought by many to be a career ender, ended up giving The Beastie Boys nearly two decades of life.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2009 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Captiol, and is used for informational purposes only.