During the Phish Jukebox Summer Tour of 1998, the "Terrapin Station" debut got all the press, demonstrably connecting Phish to the looming presence and influence of the Grateful Dead. But I argue that it was the bust-out of the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" that got the more intense and personal reaction from fans. For many Phish fans born in the 70's, The Beasties were our band, of our generation -- we "got" them, just like we "got" Phish. While the Dead bust out connected Phish to the past, "Sabotage" affirmed their command of the here and now.
The Beasties' latest release, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, came out last week and inspired me to make more associations between them and the world of jambands. It was not surprising that a little research yielded 12 songs in addition to Phish's "Sabotage" that have been covered by bands that could be easily filed under the jamband label. While nobody can replace the charm, attitude and chemistry that the Beasties have cultivated, every band in this mix brings a little something of their own to this material: either tonally or improvisationally, through the musicianship or the arrangement.
This collection focuses primarily on tracks from Licensed To Ill, Check Your Head and Ill Communication. I can almost see how bands eschewed tunes from Hello Nasty and To The 5 Burroughs, but where are the Paul's Boutique jams? Anybody?
Here's what you're listening to:
Groove Holmes - Ray's Music Exchange Many of these covers tend to stretch out the 3 minute records and Ray's Music Exchange covers a lot of ground in their interpretation. First, they ease into this tune's mellow groove like they've got all night. Then, they find some very fusion-y spaces before building into a furious peak.
Gratitude - The Maui Project One of the only selections to feature an actual DJ, The Maui Project (a Disco Biscuits side project) offers a loong jam built on the Gratitude riff, which, IMHO, was is just asking for it.
Girls - Psychedelic Breakfast Unlike the previous two songs, this is a fairly faithful interpretation, but that's what's so impressive about this performance. These guys are able to match the original record's frantic pace while banging away on their instruments. Nice work.
Rhymin' and Stealin' - Perpetual Groove PGroove played this high energy, rock-oriented and guitar-driven version of the Licensed To Ill classic as a New Year's Eve treat for their fans.
Sabotage - Phish You can hear in Trey's voice ("oh my gawd, it's a mirage") that he knows he's not cool enough to be singing this song... and that's what make him so cool.
In 3's - Indobox Drummer Quinn Ferree leads the way on this rhythmic exercise, with his bandmates in Indobox layering on some nice complementary textures
POW! - Particle Everything about Particle is in your face and this cover is no exception. The band quickly diverges from the powerful intro and explores peak after peak of guitar and synth dueling.
Paul Revere - Disco Biscuits This version holds very true to the original samples on the Beastie Boys track, and its faithfulness sends the NYE crowd into a frenzy.
Bulls On The Bus - Umprhrey's McGee One of Umphreys' trademark Halloween mashups, the band seamlessly blends "Mark On The Bus" with Rage Against The Machine's "Bulls On Parade"
No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn - String Cheese Incident and Big Summer Classic Allstars The Umphrey's guys are sticking around for this tongue and cheek, guest filled with a lyrical nod to the place it was performed (Brooklyn's Prospect Park). By the time Michael Franti emerges with the first "How Ya Feeling", followed by a bit of freestyle, the tune becomes a funky eco-themed dance party for a summer night in the city. More Trees In Brooklyn!
Root Down - Trey Anastasio Band There's so much going on it the original recording of this song and it's all here in TAB's arrangement, including funked up horn breaks and some brilliant vocal interplay between Trey and Jennifer Hartswick.
Sabrosa - Eckobase This band from Arkansas labels themselves as live electronic music. They stretch Sabrosa into a fluid, mellow jam.
Fight For Your Right (To Party) - Rumpke Mountain Boys Bluegrass! No jamband collection is complete without it. The RMB rave-up proves that it's attitude that makes Beastie Boys music work, and they've got it up to their ears.
Bonus Track. Not a Beastie Boys cover, but the Beastie Boys doing a cover... Elton John's "Bennie & The Jets"
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