With a title like Book Deluxe (Sterling), you definitely would expect for a book about the Beastie Boys to be packed with a lot of information and photographs. Fortunately, Frank Owen does a very good job in a book that has the statement “unofficial and unauthorized” on the back cover, away to say that none of the surviving members of the Beastie Boys had a hand in offering information. What the book does offer is a nice history of how Adam Horovitz, Michael “Clarence” Diamond, and Adam Yauch grew up and eventually met each other. The Beastie Boys were of course not the three members we knew and loved, there was another guitarist and a female drummer. Eventually, Horovitz joined the group and became the boys we knew and loved.
The book is done up like a well written magazine article, in fact at times it feels as portions were either influenced by well written articles or done for an article meant to be in a magazine, but the realization was that “maybe this could be a book”. The book covers tours, performances, TV appearances, and of course the music. What was of interest to me was how Owen covered Paul’s Boutique, and while there were some portions that seemed historically incorrect, it was overshadowed by some of the goings on between Capitol Records and the group. The group had hoped for Capitol to promote the album very well, label said sure. However, when chart statistics and sales were lower than expected (one million shipped, but half were being returned back to the warehouse), a change in promotion lead to the hype department being laid to rest. What Capitol wanted was something equal to Licensed To Ill. While Paul’s Boutique released two singles, none of it was considered “hit” worthy, or at least equal to “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” and “No Sleep Til Brooklyn”, nothing was dorky or stupid enough to compare. MC Hammer was growing in popularity by late 1989. Owen goes on to say that Capitol canceled their promotion for Paul’s Boutique because Donny Osmond’s new album was on its way, and they had to save time and money to blow that up. The group could have thrown in the hat and just gave up but fortunately, they had something to prove, which is what they would do for the remainder of the 1990’s. At the same time, each of the members showed how they were growing up individually and as a group, which only helped to keep them stronger as the Beastie Boys.
The sad thing is while a lot of information is given towards the recording and development of Licensed To Ill, Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, and Ill Communication, the coverage of Hello Nasty and To The Five Boroughs is extremely limited, and barely anything was discussed concerning The Mix-Up and Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2. So if you are looking for something on the level of the 33 1/3 book series, don’t expect that. What you will find is the story of three bad brothers that you wanted to know so well after hearing about them, and then wanting to know more about their histories, if only on the surface. Beastie Boys: Book Deluxe may not be a true deluxe effort, but it does offer a way to let people know why they mattered and why people will still care in the future, all packaged in a nice boxed cover.