Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Rewind: Beastie Boys - Intergalactic

Every day, the 'Rewind' feature looks at the music we were listening to 20 years ago. Somehow I missed this one out when I was compiling the selections for June 1998, so I'll feature it now instead. It would've still been in the Top 40 by July anyway, since it was the biggest hit the Beastie Boys ever had here in the UK. Not quite sure how I overlooked this one, since this song proved to be a very influential and important one for me.

I had never really been keen on hip hop in the 90s. This astonishing single changed all that. The accompanying album 'Hello Nasty' made me realise just how innovative and eclectic hip hop music could be. During the early 90's, I cringed at acts like Jazzy Jeff And The Fresh Prince and Kriss Kross, and during the Britpop years, I fell into despair every time I heard Coolio or Puff Daddy. I was never impressed by the initially blunt lyrics or the unimaginative arrangements. I had come to the conclusion that all these rappers were talentless idiots without a single brain cell to share between them. But this was just commercial rap music, a watered-down variant aimed at the mainstream pop market.

Then one day in 1998, I heard the world exclusive first play of a new song by the Beastie Boys. I'd heard of the group before, but not actually experienced any of their music until hearing this song. For the first time I had realised that there was a big difference between the watered down pop nonsense called "rap" and real hip hop. This was something completely different: it was powerful, exciting and absolutely fucking crazy. This song in question was 'Intergalactic', and had enough of an impact on me for me to purchase their fifth album 'Hello Nasty', which was gaining glowing reviews everywhere in the music press. At the time this was confusing, I hated rap music, yet here I was fascinated by these three nerdy white boys from New York who seemed to have a great love of experimentation and silly, random lyrics that were delivered in a clever enough way for them not to sound too ridiculous. 

They were like a bunch of mad scientists, playing around with bizarre combinations of sounds and defying every rule in the hip hop book, to create a truly innovative concoction. 'Hello Nasty' changed my views on hip hop and made me realise that this genre was about more than posing, gangster rap and materialism. Thanks to the Beasties, I began to explore the artists who were there back in the day, acts like Public Enemy, Grandmaster Flash, De La Soul and Afrika Bambattaa. All these great acts probably wouldn't be part of my record collection if it wasn't for MCA, Ad Rock and Mike D

According to Wikipedia: The song samples the theme music for the 1985 film The Toxic Avenger, as adapted from Rimsky-Korsakov's arrangement of Mussorgsky's A Night on Bald Mountain. The sound effect sample originates from the sound the Resonator makes in the 1986 film From Beyond. Elements of Les Baxter's rendition of Prelude in C# Minor as composed by Rachmaninoff are also used during the verses, and the song also contains elements of the Jazz Crusaders album Powerhouse. The closing "Do it!" is sampled from the 1971 Stovall Sisters song "Hang on in There".