Licensed To Ill – Beastie Boys

I bought this album on a day trip to France with my secondary school. I remember that I was worried the album would be in French, I was somewhat naive. Can you imagine a band attempting to re-write every song for an album in the native language of every country where they wish to make a release?

This album came out and the band caused a fuss because people over the country started stealing VW symbols from the front of cars to wear on necklaces. Yes, that was a real thing in the mid-to-late 1980s. I never stole a car badge and I’m not quite sad enough to dress up as band members however, I did dress in a way to fit in with the metal crew, I dressed to fit. Teenagers, struggling to be different by rebelling along with all the others.

“Fight For Your Right” blazed through the sound waves and I remember being excited at this odd combination of heavy guitars and rapping over the top. It was good and worked really well. For similar amazement see the review of the album Judgement Night. Then, “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” happened and it’s simple beat with crushing guitars and stupid solo was another breath of fresh air. The album had to be bought.

“Rhymin and Stealin” was my first and terrible introduction to Led Zeppelin. It had a drum beat sampled from Led Zep IV and I didn’t know that at the time. I wasn’t aware that bands would steal music or samples from other bands and recycle them. When I first listened to Led Zep IV I was rather shocked that the drum beat had me thinking of a rap band a further twenty years into the future.

There’s some classic 80s sexism in this album and I’m pretty sure, while it was a product of its time, it shouldn’t be erased from existence, all of these things need to be understood in the context of the zeitgeist.

If you like your singers white and shouty along with simple heavy guitars, stupid lyrics, and fun samples then this album is for you.