The Beastie Boys latest effort, The Mix Up finds the grayish New York trio rediscovering their instrumental punk roots as Mike D, Adrock and MCA leave the mic and head back to the drum kit, guitar and bass, respectively, for twelve short funky tracks. Add percussionist Alfredo Ortiz and keyboardist Money Mark and you’ve got a solid funk band.
“B For My Name” is like a surrogate child of the Mod Squad soundtrack and wide-bush skin flick, which starts the album off right. The influence of organ jazz pioneer Jimmy Smith is apparent through the middle of the album, as heavy fatback jazz guitar from Adrock and the bouncy keys of Money Mark carry many of the songs. “Off The Grid" starts off calmly enough, but slowly morphs and crashes full speed ahead with the whole band clicking.
The Beastie’s hail back to their punk roots on “Suco De Tangerina,” with a Clash style dub intro fueled by MCA’s bassline. Both “Electric Worm” and “Freaky Hijiki” are great jazzy tracks, despite fizzling out with odd endings. MCA’s punchy bassline starts out “The Ratcage,” which echoes its name as it gnaws and scratches through a maze of sound.
Fans of the late 90’s instrumental compilation The In Sounds From The Way Out will dig these new funky instrumentals material. Who would have thought The Beastie Boys would be selling albums based on their drums, bass and guitar chops?