- The Beastie Boys: Adrock (vocals, guitar); MCA (vocals, bass); Mike D (vocals, drums).
- Additional personnel: Mark Ramos Nishita (keyboards); Sian Harwood (background vocals), Biz Markie.
- Recorded at G-Son Studios, Atwater Village, California.
- A marked improvement over the deluxe reissue of PAUL'S BOUTIQUE, this double-disc (or four-LP) set also befits the usual overstuffed retrospective more naturally, given the original CHECK YOUR HEAD's immersion in several styles. The 16 songs of bonus material feature familiar B-sides ((like "Drinkin' Wine"), live tracks, and instrumentals. Bute alternate versions of classic tracks (including two remixes and a live version of "So What'cha Want") are even more revealing, inspiring admiration for both HEAD's wide-openness for interpretation and its effectiveness as a stripped-down jam session. The original release, remastered or not, holds up as a bridge between the beat-and-sample mashing of old school hip-hop and the genre's alterna-esoteric future, a testament to how the Beasties defined each end of the spectrum.
- Some albums define an era, a place, a certain time in one's life; they exist as soundtracks for our memories, bringing that extra scent of poignancy to them. CHECK YOUR HEAD practically defined the summer of 1992 for those who were wary of the mainstreaming of rap and somewhat bored by the insurgency of grunge. By holding their heads firmly outside of any particular musical genre, MCA, Adrock & Mike D. created their own space; distorted, fuzzy, peppered with the swagger of punk and the rootsy earthiness of early-'70s soul-jazz, and layered with ten years of hip-hop know-how.
- From the opening chords of "Jimmy James," it's clear that the Beastie Boys would have a chance to permanently shed the label of "fratboy rappers" that LICENSED TO ILL had forced upon them. Lo-fi, garagy, guitar-riff-loaded tracks like "Pass Da Mic" and "Gratitude" made it clear that the Beastie Boys could be taken as serious musical forces, even innovators. Yet they could still call back on their silly selves for romps like "Professor Booty" and "Funky Boss." One of the best albums of the 90's, CHECK YOUR HEAD is a turning point for a band and the genesis of a new musical hybrid.
Rolling Stone (6/25/92, p.41) - 3.5 Stars - Very Good - "...their most unconventional outing to date...Beneath the seeming chaos, the Beastie Boys have created a harmonious playground out of their musical fantasies..."
Spin (9/99, p.124) - Ranked #12 in Spin Magazine's "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s."
Spin (12/92, p.67) - Ranked #4 in Spin's list of the `20 Best Albums Of The Year' - "...after the critically acclaimed yet commercially distraught PAUL'S BOUTIQUE, who knew the Beaties would come back samplin', riffin', dissin', and jammin' on instruments they decided to play themsleves..."
Spin (5/92, p.76) - Highly Recommended - "...Thick, deep, textured and varied....an aural joyride..."
Entertainment Weekly (p.55) - "The trio pushed their rhymes to byzantine new heights and stretched out with Hammond-and-bongos funk jams." -- Grade: A
Alternative Press (7/95, p.81) - Ranked #23 in AP's list of the `Top 99 Of '85-'95' - "...reinvented rap, sampling, and hip-hop's parameters, incorporating their posse as near-equals, picking up instruments themselves, and...making an album that's hard to turn off....That's the true mark of a classic..."
Option (July-Aug/92, p.89) - "...a deft blend of samples, noise and live instrumentation...stoopid, fun, loud...the Beasties know exactly what they're doing..."
Village Voice (3/2/93, p.5) - Ranked #5 in the Village Voice's list of the 40 Best Albums Of 1992.
Q (Magazine) (p.134) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[A]stonishing, like stumbling into a jam session mixed from on high by an invisible scratch DJ....They ping-ponged between hardcore punk and hip-hop..."
Pitchfork (Website) - "[I]t proved that the Beasties could find a new tack on their sonic workmanship without needing a Rick Rubin or some Dust Brothers to guide them."