I have a distinct memory of dancing Intergalactic stop-motion style at some dance or other with my high school buddies senior year. I was never a huge Beastie Boys fan, though I certainly got down to their music. For a person my age, it is pretty much impossible to quantify the many ways their impressive career has affected the popular culture I was exposed to in my teen years. That’s pretty much Criterion’s reason for putting this collection together. The main selling point for the Criterion edition is the wealth of extras that come with it, multiple angles, remixes, spinoffs and other accumulations of music video loose ends are all gathered here for a Beastie feast.
The videos themselves sort of run the gamut, from pure stock footage to height of their power productions to handheld basement hijinks. The trademark low-angle fisheye fronting is present in just about every video, and it is this, coupled with the frequent home-movie aspect of many of the videos, that defines the technical side of their video conceits. This is a good thing, since the rough-cut feel makes the Beastie’s seem like your friendly neighborhood MCs. Even their videos with higher production values have an air of deliberate whimsicality to them. I’d never actually seen the video to Body Movin’ so it was with great delight that I pegged it as a spoof of the ultra-campy 60s spy flick Diabolik! which is probably one of my favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes as well. The hand-painted animation of Shadrach was also a surprise, and reminded me of Gondry’s Lego-animated White Stripes video.
My favorite video of the collection was Three MCs and One DJ, mainly because of its effective simplicity, it is a bit goofy, of course, but also probably their most intimate as well, and you really get to see Mix Master Mike go nuts. I don’t really have a lot more to say about their videos, but the two-disc anthology is a choose-your-own-adventure romp through Beastie culture that is worth any audiophile’s time and money. Check out the links below, especially the Paul’s Boutique one and their annotated lyrics. And don’t sleep ’til B-lyn.