Check Your Head is the third studio album by American rap rock group Beastie Boys, released by Capitol Records on April 21, 1992. Three years elapsed between the releases of the band’s second studio album Paul’s Boutique and Check Your Head, which was recorded at the G-Son Studios in Atwater Village in 1991 under the guidance of producer Mario Caldato Jr., the group’s third producer in as many albums. Less sample-heavy than their previous records, the album features instrumental contributions from all three members: Adam Horovitz on guitar, Adam Yauch on bass guitar, and Mike Diamond on drums.

The album was re-released in a number of formats in 2009, with 16 b-sides and rarities, as well as a commentary track, included as bonus material. It is one of the albums profiled in the 2007 book Check the Technique, which includes a track-by-track breakdown by Diamond, Yauch, Horovitz, Caldato, and frequent Beasties collaborator Money Mark.[

Check Your Head was the first Beastie Boys album to be fully co-produced by Mario Caldato Jr., who had been an engineer on Paul’s Boutique and was credited as producer on that album’s track “Ask for Janice”. It also marked the first appearance on one of their albums of keyboardist Money Mark, who became a regular collaborator of the band.

The album was somewhat of a return by the Beastie Boys to their punk roots. It featured the trio playing their own instruments for the first time on record since their early EPs (although they did provide live instrumentation on at least two songs on Paul’s Boutique), which gave photographer Glen E. Friedman the idea to shoot photos of the Beasties with their instrument cases, one of which was used as the cover of the album. Supposedly, a trading card for Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. from a set of Desert Storm trading cards was the inspiration for the album’s title.

The Beastie Boys toured with the Rollins Band and Cypress Hill in early 1992 to support Check Your Head.

Kevin Powell of Rolling Stone called Check Your Head the Beastie Boys’ “most unconventional outing to date” and stated that “the cross-pollination of styles on Check Your Head is confusing at times, yet the album achieves distinction because of its ingenuity.”[18] Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune wrote that the group were showing “surprising resiliency and versatility”, noting their new musical direction on Check Your Head and singling out Money Mark’s performance on the album for praise, referring to him as the album’s “secret weapon”.[10] Entertainment Weekly’s David Browne, on the other hand, panned the album as a “muddled, clanking mess”. Robert Christgau of The Village Voice called Check Your Head a “great concept”, but felt “the execution is halfway there at best”, later assigning it a “neither” rating, indicating an album that “may impress once or twice with consistent craft or an arresting track or two. Then it won’t.”

Spin ranked Check Your Head at number four on their list of the 20 best albums of the year, and it ranked in fifth place on The Village Voice’s year-end Pazz & Jop critics’ poll. Spin later ranked the album number 12 on their list of the 90 greatest albums of the 1990s, while Alternative Press ranked it at number 23 on their list of the top 99 albums released from 1985–95. Pitchfork ranked the album at number 34 on their list of the Top 100 Albums of the 1990s. In a retrospective review, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called Check Your Head “a whirlwind tour through the Beasties’ pop-culture obsessions, but instead of spinning into Technicolor fantasies, it’s earth-bound D.I.Y. that makes it all seem equally accessible — which is a big reason why it turned out to be an alt-rock touchstone of the ’90s, something that both set trends and predicted them.” It was ranked number 261 in the 2020 edition of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time list (though it was not ranked in the original 2003 list or the 2012 revision).

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