Simply Beastie

When the Beastie Boys came through Houston almost ten years ago, we sure did give 'em a good ol' Texas welcome. Their first album, Licensed to Ill, hadn't really caught on yet, and the audience at the Hofheinz Pavilion was hardly receptive to Madonna's opening act of three white rappers. There were jeers. Lots of 'em. In fact, if there had been some roadhouse chicken wire set up, the crowd probably would have thrown feces at the New Yorkers like a bunch of rednecks.

So sad.
The Beasties -- Michael Diamond (Mike D), Adam Yauch (MCA) and Adam Horovitz (King Ad-Rock) -- have since become veritable gods, lording over the realms of rap, funk and punk. And there's a lot more to them than just pot, skateboards and a fixation with the '70s. Diamond is quite the business maestro: besides founding and overseeing the Los Angeles-based Grand Royal -- a record label and magazine whose offices sport a skateboard ramp and a basketball court -- Diamond also has a stake in X-Large, a clothing store that sells apparel of the baggy and "fly" variety, much like what the Beasties and their followers wear. And he's a golfing enthusiast who's married to Hollywood director Tamara Davis. Yauch is an avid snowboarder and devout Buddhist who gave up weed in 1990. Horovitz, the son of playwright Israel Horovitz, is married to actress Ione Skye, and has acted in a few films himself.

The Beasties' third album, 1992's Check Your Head, is the one most responsible for their current level of success. After 1986's mainstream hit Licensed to Ill, the trio left Def Jam records and New York City for Los Angeles, where they recorded 1989's Paul's Boutique. While not a big seller, that underappreciated album marked their first foray into hip-hop. Check Your Head received advance publicity as the album on which the Beasties actually played their own instruments in addition to sampling; it went platinum and earned the trio a spot as headliners on last year's Lollapalooza tour. At about the same time, the Beasties' early '80s punk efforts -- the out-of-print Polly Wog Stew EP and the Cooky Puss single -- were compiled on Some Old Bullshit. (The meaning of their name is explained in Bullshit's insert: Boys Entering Anarchistic States Toward Internal Excellence.) The much anticipated follow-up to Check Your Head, 1994's Ill Communication debuted at number one on the Billboard chart and is the group's most diverse and choicest effort to date.

When the Beasties storm through town on Saturday, May 6, The Summit will be a madhouse that's not to be missed. But be warned: any hecklers that night are unlikely to get the broad support of a decade ago; more likely, they'll go down in a flurry of ski caps and Puma sneakers, victims of a sound thrashing by throngs of B-Boy fans.

-- Joe Hon

The Beastie Boys play Saturday, May 6 at The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza. Blues Explosion and The Roots open. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets $21.25. Call 629-3700 for info.

The Black Crowes -- A few years back, Spin editor Bob Guccione Jr. dismissed the Black Crowes as just a rehash of the Stewart/Wood/Lane-era Faces. Maybe so, but in a musical universe overrun with faux Stones and ersatz Zeppelin, what's wrong with looking back to the Faces' loose, bar-band bounce? Nothing, we say. If the Crowes recycle some late '60s sounds (and attitudes; since appearing with the Grateful Dead they've picked up the Dead's casual attitude toward bootlegging and now encourage fans to bring tape recorders to their concerts), they do it with panache and inventiveness. And a sense of fun that other touring bands could stand to imitate. At the International Ballroom, 14035 South Main, Thursday, May 4. 629-3700. (Mitchell J. Shields)

Koko Taylor -- Taylor has been the subject of a PBS documentary, received Grammy nominations for six of her last seven albums and won 14 W.C. Handy awards. All that being said, the only thing that should be necessary to get a blues fan out to Taylor's performance is the mention of her name. A force in the blues world since 1962, when Chess Records' arranger/composer Willie Dixon found her performing in a small Chicago club, Taylor has one of those inimitable, unforgettable voices that can tear down the rafters, or rip up a heart. At Rockefeller's, 3620 Washington Avenue, Thursday, May 4. 869-5483. (M.J.S.)

Suddenly, Tammy! -- The headliner is Wolfgang Press, which is entertaining enough in its mopey Brits meet American funk kind of way, but the real act to catch here may be openers Suddenly, Tammy! Anchored by the little girl soprano and piano playing of Beth Sorrentino, Suddenly, Tammy! shows, on their debut album anyway, an interesting ability to range from booming rock numbers to delicate, semi-acoustic tunes. What with the Cranberries, et al, the wavery voice with a core of steel rising over a roaring backdrop may be turning into a new cliche, but for the moment it can still be engaging. At Numbers, 300 Westheimer, Tuesday, May 9. 526-6551 (

 
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