Yes, this is the one with “Sabotage” and as gigantic as that song was (and still is), it’s almost a shame that it overshadows some of the finer moments of Ill Communication, the fourth album from the Beastie Boys. I’m not going to pretend “Sabotage” isn’t a great song, but coming back to the full album after so much time it feels a little like the grander, more polished version of Check Your Head. Which is great, but not enough to put this album over the top in my ranking of the B-Boys discography.
But when the songs hit, they hit hard. “Sure Shot,” “Get It Together,” and “Root Down” are all classics with funky organic backing tracks playing support to more of the Boys’s superb flows. And there’s more instrumental tomfoolery at play with tracks like the hardcore blasts of “Tough Guy” and “Heart Attack Man,” or the more soulful funk jams of “Bobo on the Corner,” “Sabrosa,” and the funky Meters vibe of “Futterman’s Rule.”
Aw, what the hell am I saying? I’m listening again as I write this and Ill Communication feels more like an extension of Check Your Head and when the guys allow themselves to flex on the instrumental jams it’s superb. Float in the haze of “Eugene’s Lament” or or the psychedelic cadence of “Shambala;” you won’t be sorry. Going back through the Beastie Boys discography and listening…really listening to the stuff that gets in the cracks and crevices just reinforces the genius of this crew, an entity like no other, and whose like will never come again.