Beastie Boys received some pretty lavish praise upon releasing Hello Nasty in 1998. A pastiche of hip-hop flavors, it found the band experimenting with a varied set of styles, from lounge to electronica to drum-and-bass but tending to integrate the ideas into well-versed and melodic fare. This expanded version remasters the original record and adds a 52-minute disc of B-sides and remixes which is thankfully heavier on the former, but nonetheless seems to have plenty of the album's ideas in stripped-down form. It's like the blueprints for the actual album, in which it's largely interesting to look at, but not entirely useful once the project's complete.
The first disc, Hello Nasty in remastered form, plays to the slightly louder layer and kinda just emphasizes the playful, sonic boom bap lingering about some of the record. And it's got a few of the band's notable late '90s hits, including "Body Movin'," "Intergalactic" and "Three MC's and One DJ." What social commentary might have bubbled up in the band's early '90s releases is largely absent here, but Hello Nasty succeeds as sort of an artist's party album; jolts of energy come via the fuzzy, broken noise-layered opener "Super Disco Breakin'," the steady beat, spacey reverb and dynamic turntable work from Mix Master Mike on "Just a Test" and the incredibly understated and nearly breathy "Flowin' Prose." Nuances and multi-tracks abound on the colorful "Song for the Man," a song that partially sounds like the linking point between the Beatles and later Animal Collective. "I Don't Know" is another major head-scratcher for the act, as it's a simple, light acoustic guitar ballad of sorts with Adam Yauch singing pretty whispery over it and some backing female "do doo do"s adding layering. It was definitely an ambitious album for the Beasties, but much of it seemed to work.
As for the "Bonus Material" disc, admittedly, many of those B-sides are really just scrapped-together studio banter tracks or bizarre instrumental interludes; "Dirt Dog" is one such, a quick, keyboard-driven segue of sorts that actually sounds like it would've been a thrown-out idea from the Blood Brothers' Crimes (what? Have you heard Wild Orchid Children, which was kinda related to the Bloods? BB might've influenced them too...). But the disc is interesting for a couple spins, with Fatboy Slim's remix of "Body Movin'" actually pretty interesting and blessed with Norman Cook's familiar touch (and some steel drums). "Auntie Jackie Poom Poom Delicious" is a rather unexplainable, dub-tinged instrumental with moog and some shakers that would've completely mellowed any momentum built on the proper album, so its boot makes sense. "Peanut Butter & Jelly" sounds like a mid-tempo hip-hop-go-between/ska-punk mash-up with some kid talking near-gibberish over much of the track.
The packaging at hand here is quite nice: a glossy slipcase with a digipak that folds out to five panels. The lyrics are printed in that practically unreadable, amorphous blob block, but you'll have that.
The remaster here adds a welcome complement to a thoroughly interesting and creatively successful mark in the Beastie Boys' career. Some of the content on the B-sides disc is pretty worthwhile, but its lasting value is definitely questionable. This might be great for completists and those who hold the album in very high regard; others may want to stick with the original if you've already got it.
Three MC's and One DJ
clips from all songs