Know, O Prince, that legend has it that on the 28th of May every century on the ancient hill forts of the Clwydian range, there appears a powerful warrior, broad of shoulder, wise of countenance and slightly-wider-than-he’d-like-to-be of waist striding along ready to answer his people’s call. Those lucky enough to glimpse this warrior are said to be struck by his noble bearing and verily doth the chicks really dig him. Should there be any doubt as to his identity, he can be heard tunelessly shouting his war cry before passing on to realms unknown to mortal man,
You Can’t, You Won’t And You Don’t Stop
Mike D Come On And Rock The Sure Shot
The coolest band on the planet at the very height of their powers? no wonder that looped intro to Beastie Boys Sure Shot gives me such a jolt. No wonder in fact that I found myself singing it to myself yesterday when I was out and about (and totes alone) in the Welsh hills feeling flushed with exercise and very happy with the world and I don’t actually remember listening to it for years*, maybe because I’ve listened to it so many quazillion times that I don’t actually need to hear the sucker.
I’ve Got A Hole In My Head And There’s No One To Fix It
Got To Straighten My Thoughts, I’m Thinking Too Much Sick Shit
My faulty memory remembers Sure Shot being released as the second single from the mighty Ill Communication**, I was a long-standing fan and bought everything the Beasties did unquestioningly; well right up until they broke my heart with Hello Nasty anyway. So for Sure Shot I was given a 12″ promo which had a rather cool label and 5 mixes of the track on it and then I went and bought the 10″ and 7″ versions of it anyway, in order to get as many of the B-sides as I could. Ah well, the Beasties were always the coolest gang in town and this was my way of joining up and I got plenty of great vinyl sauce here.
Sacrilege I know, but let’s get the track ‘Sure Shot’ out the way before we even scope the shellac. It comes barreling in borne aloft on an exquisite Jeremy Steig flute sample which is looped throughout to give the track real drive, that and the distorted heavy drums and percussion but the flute keeps it all light and floating. The Beasties are bang on top of their form here, their funny triangular rapping is a joy, each Beastie takes a verse here and you can sense just how much fun they had making this record. As always we get about 4,000,000 cultural references and name drops in the tune, some incomprehensibly American to me but amongst the others we get Dr John, Lee Dorsey, Doug E Fresh, Rod Carew, Kojak, Vaughn Bodē, Lee Perry and John Woo – looking up the ones we didn’t know was a big part of the fun and not so easy back then.
And equally as alwayser we got all manner of amusing boasts (‘I’ve got more Rhymes than I’ve got grey hairs / And that’s a lot because I’ve got my share’) and lines about just how awesome the Beasties were live at the time with DJ Hurricane and Mario Caldato, you know what though? they were. But amongst all this gleeful tomfoolery we get the last verse from MCA, which is the one we all noticed straight away,
I Want To Say a Little Something That’s Long Overdue
The Disrespect To Women Has Got To Be Through
To All The Mothers And Sisters And the Wives And Friends
I Want To Offer My Love And Respect To The End
The Beastie Boys had become Beastie Men, at last. Delivered so well, in such a great tune, it didn’t even sound preachy. Okay so these are precisely the lines Flight Of The Conchords nail so brilliantly well in their genius ‘Hiphopopotamus Vs. Rhymenoceros’^, but hey, that wasn’t the point. These are lines that hip-hop still needs to take to heart, sadly.
The Sure Shot promo is an interesting beast, white card sleeve with the band and title on it and a cool oriental dragon label, to tie in with their ‘Mics of Fury’ logo they were peddling at the time – when I saw them I bought a T-shirt with it on the back. Out of the five mixes one is the LP version and one is an instrumental – which actually works very well indeed. As for the other mixes:
- The Prunes Mix – Is like listening to ‘Sure Shot’ after taking a shot of elephant tranquilizers in a murky subterranean dive after a 4 day bender. I kept finding myself clutching at familiar parts of the song for reassurance. There’s a reason I haven’t bothered to MP3-ize this mix.
- The Nardone Mix – This one works, it strips out the flute loop and ups the drums, adding some interesting Hammond organ sounds in the background. This is a much more hip-hop mix. It’s not a patch on the LP version, but it is very good.
- Mario Mix – This is the most fun and again it sheds the flute in favour of a sharper beat and a new line at the beginning (‘Like my man Yauch will I use a fork / but never, ever, ever am I eating fucking pork’), as well as some very cheap sounding guitar halfway through. Another very worthwhile effort.
Two good remixes?! What is the world coming to – have these guys never heard of 1537’s Law? Okay moving swiftly onwards to the 10″^^ then and this is where Sure Shot gets EVEN BETTER! No way? YES WAY!! This is mainly thanks to the inclusion of the Beastie Boys’ third best B-side ever, ‘Mullet Head’, this rocky/punky chanter is a real Goddamn treat and I think is way better than both the punk tracks they did include on Ill Communication, the guitar/drums/bass on this beauty is an absolute treat on this red neck baiter. Hell, they used it in the soundtrack of Clueless (genuinely one of my favourite films, ever). Anyway, how can you not love a track with so many great lines?
You’re coming off like you’re Van Damme
You’ve got Kenny G, in your Trans Am
Cruise in my Iroc, stonewash on my cock
You’ve got that stonewash derriere
Spike the top because the week-end is here
Okay so I picked three separate lines just because I couldn’t choose my fave. This is such a great track and for a B-side got a lot of play, I’ve heard it instrumentally so many times on sporting montages and the like through the years. We also get a murky little hip-hop track called ‘The Vibes’ which is good one, but you can see why it got relegated to B-side status^*. Things are rounded off with The European B-Boy Mix of ‘Sure Shot’, which is just pretty nondescript really and after listening to it twice in a row, that really is the best I can come up with. Sad.
Speaking of sad, I bought the 7″ Sure Shot purely because it was pressed on burgundy vinyl and it had a ‘Mics of Fury’ sticker with it – I have yet to find a surface worthy of having it stuck to. Maybe when I slay my arch-enemy and nemesis and take his throne I will sit back, survey my newly acquired concubines and slap the sticker on his discarded crown to show how wack and lame I proved him to be. It’s what you get for messing with the sure shot.
*the last time I listened to it on iTunes was in October 2013 – say, what?!
**I’ll look it up after I hit publish, where’s the fun in meticulously researching this nonsense?
^My rhymes are so potent that in this small segment
I made all of the ladies in the area pregnant
Yes, sometimes my lyrics are sexist
But you lovely bitches and hoes should know I’m trying to correct this
^^I am wholly of the opinion that it is through the existence of the 10″ record that God reveals Himself to His creation as a beneficent and munificent deity. I really fucking love ’em!
^*although I am a fan of the lines ‘Taking care of my functions still smokin, up the shrubbery / I stopped eating chicken ’cause the shit was too rubbery’.