I distinctly remember the buzz surrounding their magical, misunderstood debut Licensed To Ill and like most kids, the first song I heard from them was the classic single "Fight For Your Right." I remember dubbing a copy on cassette from a friend, sneaking it into the house (no way my parents were letting me buy this one!), and repeatedly listening to it. They were pretty far from most of what comprised my middle school listening and I didn't know what to make of it.
Heather is our resident Beasties expert and she may well school me on how wrong I am with this list. In my defense, I know I've left a lot of great songs off by limiting myself to 5. The Beastie Boys didn't get into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on the strength of only five songs. That said, these are my Top 5 (at least for today) Beastie Boys songs:
- Rhymin' & Stealin': "Because mutiny on the bounty's what we're all about..."
What a song! The first track from their first record, my mind was melted when I first heard it and it hits as hard today as it did then. The boys deliver rapidfire wisecracks and bounce smartass inside jokes off one another while the backbeat bombs and the acid-washed, distorted guitar riff grinds. The lesson here: if your record doesn't have a song like this to introduce it, keep writing. Badass tune, kids.
- She's On It: Your face will get cut by the ragged edge of the guitar sound before the boys blister a no-good woman with a series of wicked putdowns and bad attitude. You could sum this song up with just that one word: attitude. Fantastic tune.
- Sabotage: This might be the most kickass video in history, the best movie never made, but don't forget just how great the song beneath those clever visuals is. This song, more than any other, is the reason I'll always regret never having seen The Beasties live. They weren't great singers- hell, they weren't even good singers but they're sneering, howling, and bellowing for all they're worth on "Sabotage." You can't listen to this without feeling that intensity.
- So What'cha Want: "I think I'm losin' my mind this time..."
The Boys were exiled after Ill and treated like some sort of bad joke but they weren't going quietly into that goodnight. They made a masterpiece in Paul's Boutique that wasn't recognized at the time of its release and got off the mat, emerging with Check Your Head. It seems so obvious now but I don't think anyone saw this coming at the time. It knocked me backwards when I saw them perform this on late night TV and the song still floors me every time.
- No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn: "NO SLEEP TIL... BROOKLYN!!!"
What a master riff! This may be one of the best heavy metal songs ever recorded, amigos. Huge riff, hard guitars, and a great call-and-response vocal delivery.