[…continued from last post]
I have to laugh when I see that cover above. Mike Diamond and Adam Yauch look stalwart and dignified as the Beastie Boys “look” has finally gelled by the time of the shot. Meanwhile, Adam Horowitz has the mien of Mike Meyer’s “Middle Aged Man!” He’s probably 21 at most here, but I love the way he’s carrying himself like a much older dude of, maybe 53 [sans pot belly]. His cockeyed grin makes me laugh every time I see it. The book started with a great chapter by NYC writer Luc Sante that set the stage for the scene that the band grew out of. I quickly got the idea that the book would present many different perspective to paint the fullest possible picture of the how and why of Beastie Boys. Many different viewpoints would dance among the chapters written by Diamond and Horowitz, and even within each chapter as [sometimes disputational] quote outs within the chapters.
The book sheds a lot of light on the primordial days of the band; long before Beastie Boys were in existence. I knew about Kate Schellenbach being the original female percussionist in the band and I knew of her removal from the band at a certain point. What I was in the dark completely on, was the proto-Beastie Boys precursor band, Young Aborigines! It was this 1979 vintage grouping that existed as a shambolic, teenaged group with Mike Diamond [drums] with Kate Schellenbach [percussion], John Berry [guitar] and…Holy Toledo…! Jeremy Shatan on bass!
My eyes popped when I saw that tidbit of info as I turned and said to my wife “I know that guy…he comments on PPM!” Yeah and he has a blog called An Earful that is about every kind of music possible. But until reading this I had no idea that he had a role in the band that became Beastie Boys. But Young Aborigines were described by Mike D as being influenced by Post-Punk of the era. Even hardcore; what I knew as the roots of Beastie Boys, had not yet happened by that time. Instead, Young Aborigines were the seeds of Beastie Boys. MCA and Ad Rock weren’t even in the picture, but bands like PiL, The Slits, and Gang of 4 were. Like any band of teenagers they rehearsed a lot and broke up after their first first two shows [on the same night.].
The Young Aborigines would have a transformational moment following the Black Flag show in 1981 whereby Hardcore Punk became the most exciting sound in the room to them. This meant that Jeremy Shatan, who was not as interested in following a Hardcore path, was out, and Adam Yauch, the kid they had met at the Bad Brains show was now in. The first quarter of the book functioned as a guide to the NYC club scene of the Post-Punk era, even as disco was still existing in pockets in the city. In 1981 Hardcore was definitely a thing. I recall hearing way too much Hardcore on the college radio station that I listened to. That and Art Funk were the dominant hip trends of that year. And I was pretty cold to Hardcore. To this day I have only one Hardcore disc in my Record Cell.
Beastie Boys by 1982 managed to get their first sounds down on wax when their favorite record store/hangout put out their “Polywog Stew” 7″ EP. By 1983, John Berry on guitar was out; replaced by Adam Horowitz from the recently deceased Young + The Useless; another Hardcore band that sometimes opened up for Beastie Boys. So the mold was set for something resembling the band we all know to emerge.
Next: …Aprés Hardcore?