In May of 1994, the Beastie Boys dropped their 4th album, Ill Communication (you can read my thoughts on that album right here). The album was a commercial success (to date it has sold over 3 million copies) that produced four singles: “Sabotage”, “Get It Together”, “Sure Shot” and “Root Down”. For one reason or another, the Beastie Boys and/or the label (Capitol) thought it would be a good idea to make a whole EP around the “Root Down” single, and here we are. The EP would include three different versions of “Root Down” and a handful of live performances that the liner notes say were recorded in Europe, in the winter of ’95.
Those who read this blog on a regular basis already know how I feel about the Beastie Boys. So needless to say, I’m not super excited going into this one, but when it comes to the music, I’m a completionist, so I’m determined to see my way through the Beasties’ catalog.
Even when the catalog includes obvious money grabs like this EP.
Root Down (Free Zone Mix) – I briefly mentioned this remix in my Ill Communication post. The Prunes hook up a tough backdrop that even makes the BB’s rhymes sound stronger. This mix is way better than the o.g. mix, and might even be one of my favorite Beastie records.
Root Down (LP) – Speaking of the o.g mix, the Beasties decide to place the LP version right after the “Free Zone Mix”. Its pretty dope, just not as dope as the previous version.
Root Down (PP Balloon Mix) – Our hosts give Prince Paul a chance to remix “Root Down” with this one. Unfortunately, his instrumental is super dull and winds up being the weakest of the three mixes on the EP.
Time To Get Ill – The Beasties go back and revisit the title track from their debut album. They replace the basic drum beat in the original with a dark moody groove for this live rendition, and the musical facelift actually makes it sound better.
Heart Attack Man – Here’s another one from the Ill Communication album that the Beasties perform live. I wasn’t a fan of the album version and I’m not feeling this one either.
The Maestro – This one was on the Check Your Head album. I prefer the album version to this live mash up, but the go-go break in the middle of the song was kind of dope. Are they saying sardines and pork and beans?
Sabrosa – The BBs recreate this instrumental jam session from Ill Communication and it sounds just as good live as it did on the album.
Flute Loop – This live version plays just like the Ill Communication mix. Which I liked, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
Time For Livin’ – Live version that sounds just like the album version on Check Your Head.
Something’s Got To Give – See comments from “Time For Livin'”.
Like I mentioned in the opening, this project was an obvious money grab, and to make an entire EP around a single from another album is overkill. The crown jewel of the EP is the opening “Root Down (Free Zone Mix)”, but after that you can basically listen to Ill Communication and Check Your Head to get the same results as the live versions on this EP. The Root Down EP is actually a decent listen, but with the exception of three songs (“Root Down (Free Zone Mix)”, “Time To Get Ill” and “The Maestro”), it doesn’t bring anything new or worthwhile to the table. But if this is your first introduction to the Beastie Boys music, you’ll appreciate it more.