Classic Albums – Ill Communication by Beastie Boys (1994)

The Beastie Boys burst onto the UK music scene with their 1986 hit single, (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party).  The single was a commercial hit on both sides of the Atlantic and their debut album Licensed To Ill was released later the same year to critical acclaim.

The album sat firmly in the hip hop camp but the Beastie Boys had started life in 1981 as a hardcore punk thrash band.  The original line-up included Adam Yauch (MCA) and Michael Diamond (Mike D), along with John Berry and Kate Schellenbach (who later became a member of Luscious Jackson).  They supported the likes of Bad Brains and Dead Kennedys and released a debut EP Pollywog Stew.  But in 1983 John Berry had left to be replaced by Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) and they released a second EP, Cooky Puss which saw the band change music direction from thrash punk to an experimental punk hip-hop.

Following License To Ill they released the critically acclaimed second album Paul’s Boutique (1988) though the album wasn’t as commerciallyl successful as their debut and with no hit singles from either this or their third album, Check Your Head (1992) any mention of the Beastie Boys and most people would remember three young arrogant American brats in a video for Fight For Your Right wearing baseball caps with VW signs hanging around their necks.

The Beastie Boys third album, Ill Communication was released in 1994.  Before hearing the album I remember watching an amazing performance at Glastonbury in the pouring rain to a small but dedicated crowd.  The TV performance started with the opening track from the album, Sure Shot. A great groove complete with a flute loop and MCA, Ad-Rock & Mike D taking turns rapping; a great opening track that has all the power of their earlier hip hop complimented by a maturity in both sound and delivery.


But what makes Ill Communication a classic album is its depth and scope of music.  Without a breath-taking gap between tracks, as Sure Shot fades the opening thrash guitar of Tough Guy bursts from the speakers. Beastie Boys not only return to their punk thrash roots but they play it as well as they play hip hop! And less than one minute later we swiftly move onto the third track, B-Boys Makin With The Freak Freak (“Shit, if this is gonna be that kinda party, I’m gonna stick my dick in the mash potato!”) a dub infested jazz grooving hip hop tune with distorted rapping giving the track a garage feel.

Bobo On The Corner is a percussion-heavy funky instrumental. Four tracks into Ill Communication and the listener has been pulled every which way through an audible jungle of sounds including rap, hip hop, jazz, funk and punk hardcore thrash. And the reason it works is that every musical direction I am pulled, the Beastie Boys nail perfectly.  I don’t know of any other album that does this so well.

Root Down offers more funky jazz complete with Hammond organ, and all this is followed by the awesome Sabotage which has the three Beasties playing guitar, bass and drums and merging hard throbbing rock with DJ scratching to deliver what is possibly their most perfect track to this day.

Get It Together is a welcome relief from the heavy vibe of Sabotage and takes us back to square one with another funky beat and the three rapping over a more traditional sounding hip hop track.

While other hip hop artists were busy sampling ‘genre standards’ like James Brown grooves and Led Zeppelin beats the Beastie Boys have always shown the scope of their influences.  Here they use the likes of Jimmy Smith, Kurtis Blow, Lee Scratch Perry, Doug E Fresh and The World Famous Supreme Team.

And there’s more… the instrumental Sabrosa with its lazy funky Latin style, the return of hardcore thrash with Heart Attack Man and another groovy beat and flute loop in a similar vein to Sure Shot, with the wonderful yet short and sweet, Flute Loop.

The album jumps all over the place with so many genres and styles that it’s hard to understand why it works.  But the reason it does is down to the sincerity and perfection of the Beastie Boys; and if not for any other reason, that alone in my opinion is enough to consider Ill Communication as a classic album.  An album that sees the Beastie Boys, in many ways one of the most underrated groups of all time, at the peak of their powers.

Ill Communication has 20 songs that stand alone as great tracks and collectively become a pick-n-mix assortment worthy of any Woolworth’s sweet counter.

And if that’s not enough, Spike Jonz directed one of the best music promo videos ever for the single, Sabotage.




Mangomad releases Electro Hip Hop single, A New Parable

Mangomad is the solo project of Edinburgh-based producer Kelman Greig. Kelman began his music career working as CD Editor for Future Music magazine. A place where he got his inquisitive hands on the latest electronic music gear, and a much needed grounding in music production.

In 2003, Kelman co-founded Edinburgh’s the now defunkt Yummi Records and one half of The Masters of Truemanship. The first release on Yummi was the quirky reggae tune which received the thumbs-up from Leith’s most famous literary son, Irvine Welsh.


Mangomad’s debut album Electrotherapy was released at the tail end of 2004 and received some critical acclaim, the Big Issue describing it as “A Masterpiece”. Notable gigs followed, with the most prestigious being a slot on the Meduza stage at Sziget 2006 in Budapest – one of Europe’s largest music festivals.

After Electotherapy, Kelman turned his attention to writing and producing music for BBC Scotland documentaries under the guise of Neon Eight. Impending fatherhood also dictated the need for a more stable income. Neon Eight credits include sync licenses for Disney Educational Productions.

In 2009, Mangomad returned with an electro-hip-hop remix of Stanley Odd’s debut single The Numbness, the ‘Dead Leg Drop Mix’ received extensive radio play, most notably by Dan Hegarty on Ireland’s RTE 2. He also remixed Stanley Odd’s 2nd single, ‘Think of A Number’ and is remixing the whole of their debut album ‘Oddio’.

Mangomad is back with a dark, new single, ‘A New Parable’ featuring the poetic and prophetic rhymes of Solareye, the frontman of Stanley Odd. A New Parable is a story of injustice, torture and revenge. In addition to writing and producing the music, Mangomad also turned his creative urges to the visual media by producing and directing the stunning animated video for the single, ensuring a notable return to the vanguard of new music from Scotland.

An animated sequel to A New Parable is in the planning stages, continuing this disturbing journey and taking the story to another level. Again featuring Solareye’s, it will be a marriage of magnetic and perfectly executed storytelling and the crafted electro beats of Mangomad’s production.

Mangomad releases his new single A New Parable via Circular Records this month.

Libertines Gary Powell announces new band The Invasion Of…plus mini album details

The Libertines and Dirty Pretty Things drummer Gary Powell has announced details of a side project he has been working on, that looks like it may take over his future.

The Invasion Of…is a five piece band completed by Andre Bayuni, Julian Bayuni, Neil Montier and vocalist Robin Coombes of acclaimed British hip hop group Taskforce, they are set to release their debut mini-album ‘373’ through 25 Hour Convenience Records on October 4th.

With The Invasion Of... Powell takes on the roll of main contributing composer of the music, with Coombes contributing his unique approach to lyric writing. Fans of Powell’s previous bands are sure to be pleasantly surprised by their ever more eclectic style of rock ‘n’ roll, prog and krautrock as Gary explains;

“Starting The Invasion Of… was a real leap of faith not only in myself, but the soon to be members of the band.  It would have been easier for me to set it up with other musicians from other bands and follow their lead, but instead I decided to get things going with friends, regardless of their musical background. It has worked out better than I could have ever imagined as the musicians I play and work with have surpassed my wildest expectations.
It has been a big ask to expect the guys to take their own leap of faith in me, but they’ve done it and brought along their own ideas, emotions and overall dynamic determination into the mix which has really helped shape the mad ideas we have  into something cohesive Imagine if Chuck Berry in his youth had started making music in today’s day and age, he would be making music like us.”

The Invasion Of… will be appearing live at Proud, Camden on August 3rd, here is an interesting clip of what to expect from the band, taken from their debut live performance at The Water Rats.


‘373’ mini album track listing:

1)      The Invasion Of Venice

2)      Delusional

3)      Memories

4)      In Like Voodoo

5)      Pedantic Romantic

6)      Devilish Ways

Matisyahu, returns with powerful new album, Light

Back in 2006 with the release of his Youth album the world discovered the sound of Matisyahu a Hasidic Jewish musician living in New York writing and singing his own reggae songs about his religious devotion.

This week sees the release of the latest album from Matisyahu,  Light,his first full length for three years.  Featuring the excellent single One Day, already a wonderful reggae anthem, the album takes the listener on a journey through a variety of musical genres  from reggae to dancehall, ska-inflected new wave, pop rock and acoustic folk.

While One Day is a stand out radio sensitive track, it also fits nicely into this powerful collection of songs. A deep and meaningful songwriter, Matisyahu is also a master of writing catchy melodies and infectious beats selling his heavier messages in lighter very acceptable bite size pieces.

The album content is about as diverse as it is possible to get from ballad to ballsy rock, R&B, pop and everything in between including of course some top reggae and ska-inflected tracks.

R&B star Akon is featured on the bonus remixed version of One Day, the final track on what is a remarkable album of strong songs, intricately produced with a message of peace, hope & understanding in a style that could only be Matisyahu.

Matisyahu – One Day


T in the Park 2010

T in the Park is the largest music festival to be held in Scotland, and along with Glastonbury, V Festival, the Reading and Leeds festivals attracts big crowds and top artists from around the world.  It is one of the undisputed UK music festival highlights of the summer; and so it comes as no surprise to know that tickets for the festival have all sold out.

T in the Park has three main stages and a dance tent; and there are great headline acts booked for them all to offer something for every music taste.

Main Stage
Main Stage headliners for this year’s T in the Park are Muse, Eminem and Kasabian. While Muse and Kasabian are regular UK music festival favourites, this will be Eminem’s first UK music festival headlining show and follows the success of Jay-Z’s controversial Glastonbury headline show in 2008.

Muse headline Friday night with support coming from the likes of trance dance favourites Faithless, Paloma Faith and The Big Pink. On Saturday, Eminem will headline the main stage with performances throughout the day from the likes of Stereophonics, Paolo Nutini, Vampire Weekend and the ever popular Proclaimers.  While on Sunday, Kasabian headline the main stage for the first time and receive great support from Jay-Z, Biffy Clyro and Dizzee Rascal among others.  What a climatic high that will be!

Radio 1 / NME Stage
Headline acts on the much coveted Radio 1 / NME Stage are The Black Eyed Peas, The Prodigy and Madness.  On Friday Black Eyed Peas will be supported by Florence & the Machine, Jamie T and The Temper Trap, with more to be confirmed.  On Saturday, T in the Park festival favourites, The Prodigy will no doubt out-strobe and out-stare everyone else and get support from the likes of 30 Seconds to Mars, The Courteeners, The Black Keys and Shed Seven.  While on Sunday, the festival will no doubt be in a party mood when Madness headline with support from Groove Armada, The Cribs, Baby Shambles, among others.

Dance Tent
This year the dance tent acts will have to compete with rappers Jay-Z and Eminem among others playing on the main stages on Saturday and Sunday.  But with Plastikman, Four Tet and Tricky all playing a live sets and a great line-up of A-list DJ’s including Carl Cox, Sven Vath, Erol Alkan, Dubfire, Adam Beyer, Greg Wilson and Andrew Weatherall among others playing anything and everything from techno to dub, the only problem will be how punters will manage to seee all their favourite acts!

T in the Park will be held at Balado in Kinross-shire between Friday 9th and Sunday 11th July.

T in the Park Tickets
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