Thursday, March 5, 2020

"Brass Monkey" by Beastie Boys

Song#:  3063
Date:  03/21/1987
Debut:  77
Peak:  48
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  The Beastie Boys made history when their debut album, License to Ill, became the first rap album to reach #1 on the Pop Album chart. That was mainly due to the success of their single, the #7 "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)." To follow up that hit, this track was selected for single release. It didn't do nearly as well missing out on the Pop Top 40 while barely making the R&B chart (#83). In the end, the single's performance didn't really matter as the following month, the album would be certified triple-platinum. In March of 2015, it would receive a diamond certification (10+ million copies sold). Oddly, years later in 2006, "Brass Monkey" would receive a gold certification for sales.

ReduxReview:  A song about a cocktail? What's not to like? That squawkin' sax sample (see below) certainly made this track memorable. This was quite different from the rock-rap of "Fight for Your Right," but it worked just as well. I don't think it was what Pop radio was looking for, but it ended up doing pretty good for a more straight-up rap song on the Pop chart. I was always surprised they didn't choose "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" instead. That track seemed like a natural follow-up to "Fight" with its rock sound, but perhaps they didn't want to be known as that rap-rock group and wanted to get out something more akin to their original sound. Still, it was a fun, catchy track from the group.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song is basically an ode to a premixed bottled cocktail called Brass Monkey. It was made by the Heublein Company and started to get distributed in 1971. It was a cocktail made from rum, vodka, and orange juice. For their first ad campaign for the product, Heublein made up a tall tale that the drink's origins came from bar where a World War II smuggling operation had taken place. It sounded so plausible that may folks believed it. The product came at a time when beer, wine, and hard liquor were the staples and bottles of premixed cocktails were not the norm. Still, steady sales kept the product active through the 70s and 80s, and when this song came out, sales jumped. It faded out in the 90s. There was also another drink called the Brass Monkey that consisted of drinking a part of a 40 ounce bottle of malt liquor and then replacing it with orange juice. However, this wasn't the one the Beastie Boys were rapping about. In an interview, Beastie Mike D mentioned that they were referencing the premixed bottled cocktail.  2) The wanky sax is part of what makes this song memorable. It is actually a sample of an obscure dance song from 1981. The female soul vocal trio Wild Sugar recorded a single that included the songs "Messin' Around" and "Bring It Here." The sax part heard in the Beastie's track is what opens "Bring It Here." Wild Sugar was apparently an off-shoot group from the funk/disco outfit The Fatback Band. Led by Bill Curtis, The Fatback band had a string of R&B chart entries throughout the 70s and 80s including three Top 10s. They were never able to cross over to the Pop chart. Wild Sugar was created from the background vocalists used by The Fatback Band. Bill Curtis co-wrote and co-produced the trio's only single. It didn't chart. However, someone in the Beastie's camp discovered the track and used the funky sax part for "Brass Monkey."


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