Life Comes In Phases Take The Good With The Bad

Back in the mid- 90s when the Beastie Boys were the best band in the world they release a run of albums- Check Your Head, Ill Communication, Hello Nasty- that were effortlessly brilliant. Mixing rap, funk, punk, dub, scratching and sampling with live instruments, adding Money Mark on keys and their own particular, cockeyed worldview- anything from science fiction films, late 60s/ early 70s fashions, golf visors, ramen, the mullet hairstyle, Lee Perry- they had a golden streak where it seemed like everything they did was a brilliant idea and that you were in on the joke even if you only got 25% of the references. Anyone else from the same period that could be considered for the ‘best band in the world’ title had nothing on the Beastie Boys.

Their golden phase was heralded in 1989 by the album they made when they took themselves away from Def Jam and off to Los Angeles and re- thought everything they did. Hooking up with the Dust Brothers (the real Dust Brothers) they rented a villa with a pool and the owners wardrobes, stuffed full of 70s clothing, and made Paul’s Boutique. This album showed they were not the one- joke frat boys of Licensed To Ill and that they were not going to be one hit wonders. Paul’s Boutique is a rich, complex- but- simple, layered record, samples from one hundred and five different records sprinkled over backing tracks The Dust Brothers had already created. On top of this multi- coloured, vibrant album where songs are constructed with split second timing, the three Beasties placed their three way rhymes, adding another layer to an already dense record. Not that it sounds too dense, it’s all done with amazing beats, a sense of humour, innovation and a lightness of touch that draw you in from the moment the needle finds the groove (and this is very much an album that should be listened to on vinyl).

Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun is one of the most straight ahead songs on  Paul’s Boutique, a dusty rock drum beat (borrowed from Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band and their song Last Bongo In Belgium) rumbles away for a couple bars before the heavy guitar riff comes in, sounding like it’s on a turntable that is slowing down, and then the Beasties and their whining NYC rapping and smothered in echo describing the stupidity of violence…

‘Rolling down the hill snowball getting bigger
An explosion in the chamber the hammer from the trigger…’

There’s a Pink Floyd sample in there, the piano chord from Time, clanging away. The super heavy Black Sabbath rock vibes continue through til the tension snaps at one minute fifty…

‘Looking down the barrel of a gun
Son of a gun son of a bitch
Getting paid getting rich’

A pause, then the drums beat doubles and a guitar chord crashes in- both stolen from Mississippi Queen by Mountain- and the second half gets underway. Rambo, Bruce Willis, Son Of Sam and Clockwork Orange get name checked and the crunching riff and rolling drums carry us through…

‘You’re a headless chicken chasin’ a sucker freebasing
Looking for a fist to put your face in
Get hip don’t slip knuckle heads
Racism is schism on the serious tip’

The vocals finish at that point but there’s still a seriously deranged guitar riff to deal with, circling down the plughole, before the drum beat comes to dead stop.

Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun

Tristessa

On Saturday night while The Chemical Brothers were block rocking the Other Stage at Glastonbury talk on Twitter turned to the then Dust Brothers 1994 Xmas Dust Up, a cassette given away free with the NME in December 1994. The tape was mixed by Ed and Tom, a window rattling, volume- all-the-way-up, seven song mixtape.

Side 1
The Dust Brothers- Leave Home
Bonus Beats Orchestra- Bonus Beats
The Prodigy- Voodoo People (Dust Brothers Remix)
Depth Charge- Shaolin Buddha Finger

Side 2
Renegade Soundwave- Renegade Soundwave (Leftfield remix)
Strange Brew- One Summer (‘Lektrik Dawn Dub)
Manic Street Preachers- La Tristessa Durera

Image result for dust brothers xmas dust up

Just looking at the sleeve and reading the tracklist transports me back to this cassette causing difficulties for the speakers in a red Nissan Micra back in 94/95- it used to get played a lot for a while.

Bonus Beats Orchestra was Tom and Ed Dust/Chemical under another name. Depth Charge were ace, the 9 Deadly Venoms album was trip hop and big beat before either really got going, and chock full of samples from martial arts films and horror movies. I’ve posted Renegade Soundwave before and the Leftfield remix is particularly good. Strange Brew were a duo from Manchester, one half of whom, Jake Purdy, lived down our street when we were kids. We’d long lost touch by the mid 90s but used to knock around in a gang all the time in the mid 80s. Funny to have a little childhood, local connection with a free NME cassette. Helpfully someone has transferred their copy of the tape digitally and uploaded it to Youtube. The beats sound quite timelocked but as a whole this still sounds fairly fresh I think.

The Dust Brothers would become The Chemical Brothers not long afterwards. Their remix of La Tristessa Durera was done while still Dust and isn’t subtle-  squealing noises from the start, various samples from Ed and Tom’s pile of odds and ends, lots of sirens and James’ vocal. La Tristessa Durera- the sadness endures forever- was written by Richie taking the point of view of a war veteran wheeled out once a year on Poppy Day as a ‘cenotaph souvenir’, poverty causing him to sell his medal. It is one of the best early Manics songs, showing behind the eyeliner, shock quotes and bluster there was some genuine talent.

La Tristessa Durera (From A Scream To A Sigh) (Chemical [Dust] Brothers Remix)

Drew Me Loving To Your Isle



Not actually a cover version of Tim Buckley’s song, but a dance track that borrows the song’s name, here’s The Dust (later Chemical) Brothers’ Song To The Siren. Released in 1992 it was Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons first release. This is a fairly full on, ten minute plus remix by Andrew Weatherall’s Sabres Of Paradise. Good luck finding a vinyl copy if you haven’t got one.