1. This day in history: January 12, 2002. 9:49 AM, California time. The Steve Hoffman Music Forums officially launched with this thread. Thank you for 20 years of music, discussion, and great memories! Join our "Thank You!" thread, and we'll see you in the forum!
    Dismiss Notice

Your Reaction to Beastie Boys' "Paul's Boutique" in 1989

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by RageRomano, Jan 14, 2022.

  1. RageRomano

    RageRomano Idiot Thread Starter

    I've been listening to a lot of Beastie Boys lately, and it got me wondering what people thought of them in 1989 when they released Paul's Boutique. Licensed To Ill comes across as frat boy party rap, and I probably would have bet my money that they would have been seen as a novelty act and forgotten soon after. Paul's Boutique however is an incredible album and a massive leap forward from Licensed To Ill, and I think it proved that the trio was more than just dumb goofballs that could write drinking anthems for teenagers. (I'm basing this off of how the media represented them at this time, and how they seemed to represent themselves, so please correct me if I'm wrong)

    So I'd love to know, from those who remember:
    What was your reception of the album at the time? Were you excited to hear more from the B-Boys or did you groan and think "More of these idiots?!" Were you surprised by the evolution in their sound? Did you wish they just made more "Fight For Your Right" type hits? Were you a fan?

    ***For the sake of giving background to my own personal experience, I was born that year and didn't become a fan until '98 with Hello Nasty, and at that point they were basically solidified as music legends.
  2. egebamyasi

    egebamyasi Forum Resident

    Worcester, MA
    I was a fan of the first album and I saw them live on that tour. The second album blew my mind, especially the Beatles samples (a Beatles thread already). I immediately threw it on a Maxell cassette and listened to it constantly. That was it with the Beasties for me. I checked out Check Your Head but it did nothing for me. I rarely listen to the first album but I still like it in a nostalgic way. If I'm going to listen it's Paul's Boutique or nothing. I still have the original vinyl.
    Jarra Lad, Kyhl, poe_man and 4 others like this.
  3. Stencil

    Stencil Forum Resident

    Lockport, IL
    I was 30 in 1989. I had really liked Brass Monkey and thought Fight For Your Right was a lot of fun. I had gone back to school to finish my degree so I was surrounded by a big college environment. The album was popular. Showed up at all the cool kids parties. I hated it. It made me want to break out my Led Zep and Eagles albums. Don’t even get me started on the horror and sacrilege of sampling side 2 of Abbey Road. At the time I described it as “they just put a bunch of good music in a blender, downed it with cheap tequila and threw it all back up again”. I love it now. It’s brilliant.
  4. bvb1123

    bvb1123 Rock and Roll Martian

    Cincinnati Ohio
    I didn't get it right away but within a few months I could tell it was a game-changing classic
  5. Instant Dharma

    Instant Dharma Hendon!!!

    CoCoCo, Ca
    Pretty much that. I had dismissed them initially but the video for Hey Ladies helped to change my perspective.

    Suffice to say I am in their demographic. I was just listening to it today. Its timeless.
    RageRomano and hi_watt like this.
  6. Brian Doherty

    Brian Doherty Forum Resident

    Los Angeles CA
    i found it exhilarating for first like 10 min, bought the triple gatefold week of release, but found I couldn't remember much past that.

    Put on side one 10x as much as side two because of that aforementioned early exhilaration. I did NOT predict it would be a classic or even that the band would have much of a life moving forward---could tell they moved beyond their initial goofy pop audience/persona (tho I loved then and still do LICENSED)....but will hat tip to its craft and influence while still never wanting to hear much past the first four songs.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022
    kwadguy and RageRomano like this.
  7. Instant Dharma

    Instant Dharma Hendon!!!

    CoCoCo, Ca
    Its funny yeah. Now I get it. Really the Beasties are a punk band. If you think of the debut material through that lens it all makes total sense. Its great stuff.

    ok for what its worth i still get a kick out of Paul Revere.
    I did it like this
    I did it like that
    I did it with a waffle ball bat, NOW…lol

    I have kids and a real job but the teenager in me never left.
    RageRomano and hi_watt like this.
  8. ODShowtime

    ODShowtime Swirl Life

    I was a kid when the Beasties hit the scene and I liked Fight For Your Right to Party as much as everyone else but I never heard anything about Paul's Boutique. It was way over my radar at age 10 and I never heard a single or saw any videos or anything.

    A few years later I really got into the band and of course the album is a masterpiece to me now. It was very much ahead of its time and was not marketed well.
  9. Stencil

    Stencil Forum Resident

    Lockport, IL
    you know now that I think of it that was kinda my same reaction when I heard The Sex Pistols. I guess they really are a punk band.
    RageRomano and Instant Dharma like this.
  10. Tanx

    Tanx Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    I'd involuntarily seen or heard just about every iteration of this band, from Young and Useless to the Licensed to Ill tour. Hated them. When a friend insisted the new record was a work of brilliance, I had extremely low expectations.

    It blew my mind. I must have spent a year with that record on repeat. I just went through another phase last fall. It's one of my top 5 of all time.

    I don't know how the rest of the world received it; my friend group loved it and played it constantly, marveling at that level of creativity.

    Strangely, nothing else the Beasties have done ever grabbed me after that.
  11. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I had seen the Beasties when they were a hardcore band, showing up late at some freebie show at Tompkins Square Park. Saw them opening for Madonna. Loved their early singles. Remember spinning "Cookie Puss" on college radio. Loved the first album. Saw them at the Ritz behind License to Ill. Loved some of the other sample heavy hip hop of the day -- like 3 Feet High and Rising -- but, I have to admit, I didn't connect with Paul's Boutique on it's release. It was a slow grower for me. By the mid '90s I was falling in love with it. Now I think it's a masterpiece. But it took me a couple of years.

    I will say, around my neck of the woods in NYC, long before License to Ill arrived, we thought they were funny, kind of like the Bowery Boys of hip hop, but we never thought they were just clowns.
  12. jhm

    jhm Forum Resident

    I was 20 and in my Junior year of college. I don't think my friends and I "got it" to be honest. License To Ill had been a big party record in high school so this was a complete left turn. I don't think folks hated it, so much as it didn't get a lot of attention. I know my own tastes in music are more diverse and "educated" since that time. These guys seemed to go back to funk before the mini-funk revival in the early 90s. In other words, I don't think it'd absorbed enough variety of music at the time to really appreciate it.
  13. RudolphS

    RudolphS Forum Resident

    Rio de Janeiro
    I remember Paul's Boutique got quite a few lukewarm reviews upon release, it's definitely an album that over time has been re-evaluated.
    Also, people are really, really underestimating Licensed To Ill. Sure, it's kinda obnoxious, but the truth is that that album turned a gazillion of white kids onto hiphop, it was a typical gateway album. I know, I was one of them.
  14. john lennonist

    john lennonist There ONCE was a NOTE, PURE and EASY...

    Me no like then

    Me no like now
    BeatleBruceMayer likes this.
  15. motionoftheocean

    motionoftheocean Senior Member

    Circus Maximus
    not even remotely on the same level as PB (or CYH or IC, for that matter)
  16. Turnaround

    Turnaround Member your mama warned you about

    New York
    I didn't really get into and appreciate Paul's Boutique until a few years later. I don't remember paying much attention to it in 1989, and any listens to it in 1989 didn't grab me or my attention a the time.

    In 1989, when a new album came out, you had to hear the songs on the radio or MTV. Or you might hear the album at the local record store because the clerks were playing it, or because your friend had a copy. Or you bought the album, based on reading a print review describing it or because you liked the artist from their past releases.

    Licensed to Ill was already three years old when Paul's Boutique came out, so I remember having a certain memory and perception of who the "Beastie Boys" were by then. Paul's Boutique had a bad start out of the gate with the critics and commercially. So it wasn't something I made an effort to check out or try to appreciate.

    1989 was also into the Golden Age of Hip Hop. In 1989, if you wanted something fratty and controversial, 2 Live Crew and "Me So Horney" was grabbing the spotlight. If you wanted something pop, Biz Markie "Just A Friend" and Tone-Loc "Funky Cold Medina" had the spotlight. If you wanted something more artsy, De La Soul's 3 Feel High And Rising was getting the spotlight, plus artists like Jungle Brothers. There was also a lot of harder-edged stuff out there than before. Many great albums from many great artists that year, from EPMD to Public Enemy releasing "Fight the Power" (after having released It Takes A Million in 1988). Even rapping itself was getting better, as MCs became more sophisticated with their rhyming and wordplay that they made Licensed to Ill start to feel dated in its style.

    1989 was flooded with tons of great hip hop that had evolved beyond what my memories were of the Beastie Boys from a couple years ago. That, and the lack of critical and commercial spotlight on the album that year, drowned out any attention I would have given to a second album by a group that had been out of the spotlight for years.

    It would be like how today, there are so many great TV shows out now. It's a golden age of television. If someone who once was on SNL years ago does a TV show (like Ted Lasso), it's crowded by so many other shows with bigger and more interesting names, it may not make it to the top of your list of things to check out and try to appreciate. These days, it can take me a couple years to catch up with a show to get around to giving it a chance.
  17. RudolphS

    RudolphS Forum Resident

    Rio de Janeiro
    I'm not specifically talking about its quality, I'm referring to the influence as a gateway album it had onto kids who before were not into hiphop. All the albums you quoted were released after Licensed To Ill.
    FWIW, I personally only rate Ill Communication above Licensed To Ill.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022
  18. jhm

    jhm Forum Resident

    I thought they did a great "homage" to "Shake Your Rump" on the sitcom The Goldbergs. For those of you who don't know it, it follows the titular family in the 1980s. In the clip, the older brother, Barry, was committed to perform at a pep rally with his own rap group "The Tasty Boys". Well, they guys all chicken out (because they're talentless), and Barry's left to lip synch with his sister and little brother. The use of the juice box was particularly clever :)!

    ghoulsurgery, Leviethan and moops like this.
  19. pscreed

    pscreed Upstanding Member

    Land of the Free
    My reaction was I missed the boat.
    ODShowtime likes this.
  20. I was at a listening party for it with a bunch of musicians & artistes. We all went in the basement, lit some candles, dropped acid & cranked it on the basement stereo. Within 30 minutes we were all convinced of its brilliance, as well of the quality of the LSD. Being in your early 20's in the late-1980's underground scene was quite a good trip...
  21. GregM

    GregM The expanding man

    Daddyland, CA
    I was in high school when LtI came out and in college when PB came out. I thought Shadrach and a couple other songs were genius, and a huge step up from Licensed to Ill. It took a couple years to fully warm to it and recognize the brilliance of the sampling. At first some of the songs bugged me, but now I love it all. I still consider Check Your Head and Ill Communication the albums where the Beastie Boys hit their full stride.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022
  22. rlj1010

    rlj1010 Forum Resident

    Coral Springs, FL
    I was around 11/12 years old when License To Ill was released and had its time in the spotlight, 1986/1987. It perfectly fit my juvenile sensibilities at the time.

    I totally missed out on Paul's Boutique upon release in 1989.

    But a couple years later, Check Your Head came out during my high school years in 1992. I loved the new sound, especially "So Wat'cha Want".

    Shortly thereafter, I went back and bought Paul's Boutique and I couldn't believe this was the same trio that made License To Ill. Such innovation! Such progression! Great album and still love it to this day. (And I'm not even really a big rap fan, in general.)
    51IS, Jarra Lad and RageRomano like this.
  23. Hagstrom

    Hagstrom I hate Billy Joel, Rush and Queen.

    Philadelphia, PA
    I was over the Beastie Boys sometime in 1988 or so. 1989 brought good albums from McCartney, the Stones, Aerosmith, Clapton. I quickly moved on from Beastie Boys and never looked back. Paul Boutique wasn't even mentioned in school. Nobody knew about it or cared.
    Penny24 likes this.
  24. LeftCoastGator

    LeftCoastGator Forum Resident

    Paradigm shift.

    I'd been prepped for this by some of the Native Tongues' releases, especially the ingenious, sample-heavy De La Soul albums. But this was absolutely next level. The density, the layers, the creativity -- it could take you weeks to figure out all the sample, if you could at all. Plus, it absolutely rocked.

    And it was one of the last of its kind, because as artists began to sue for infringement and charge serious money for samples, it made producing albums like this difficult, and then impossible. Today it would take literally years to clear that many samples, and the cost would be beyond astronomical.

    So it was groundbreaking then, and something to appreciate today, because there will never be another hip-hop album like it.
  25. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Katy, TX
    I was in college when Licensed to Ill and Paul's Boutique was released. Honestly Paul's Boutique was mostly ignored by the people that bought the first album. So there really wasn't much of a reaction there. I do remember the video for Shake Your Rump on MTV. The hip-hop community on the other hand immediately realized how good it actually was because it was better than anything else out there. And this was when Public Enemy and NWA were the big rap groups. General acceptance of the album wasn't really until after they released Check Your Head. I know I didn't get a copy of the album until it got rerelease for the 10th anniversary.
    Doggiedogma and Dubmart like this.

Share This Page