Top 10: Check Your Head

Recently I was tagged on Facebook for one of those things where you post favourite albums

If pressed for my all-time favourite album, it’s likely to be this one.

I first started listening to the Beastie Boys in 1986, when I bought Licensed To Ill at a Bondi Junction record store after seeing the ‘Fight for your right’ music video.

Check Your Head is my favourite of their albums for the mixture of musical styles, which range from the familiar sample-based hiphop through to punk rock and jazzy funk but particularly for the blending of these.

It’s also the album that brought in key contributors Money Mark and Mario C. and also saw a significant change in their approach to recording.

Where previous albums had developed with the three MCs writing rhymes over beats produced by the likes of Rick Rubin and the Dust Brothers; this album saw them spend a lot of time jamming then sampling their ideas and assembling tracks.

The shift was necessary as copyright had caught up with sampling and, while the Beasties had done well from British Airways, it’s still an issue for contemporaries like De La Soul — whose early albums are unavailable on many online services today.

Check Your Head was also the start of the Boys’ Buddhist influence and I think this redeemed them from some of their earlier sexism.

For me it’s been a cornerstone of my musical education, as I’ve used their ideas like self-sampling and also scaffolding to create my own tracks.