200 words about Check Your Head
It's ... the smell.
The heart of Check Your Head is that cover -- not the way it looks, but the way it smells. Grunge, in the year 1992, was not solely the province of Seattle: It was three scuzzy New York screwups, fresh off a studio-tanking failure, retiring to an L.A. ballroom to skate, play basketball, inhale bales of Cali's finest, and attempt to become a new band. Of course, you can only run so far from yourself, and so the new band was the same as the old band: Yoking Sly Stone to '80s hardcore, fried-brain bass-lines to caterwauling verses about enlightenment, layering drums over drums and spitting subliminals about pop-culture detritus. What I'm saying is that Check Your Head smells like body odor, like the sort of couch you have to burn when you turn 30. Like teen spirit, then. But if Nevermind, released six months earlier, represents one tortured vision of the alternative era, Check Your Head (and the Grand Royal polyglot utopia it presaged) represents a more enduring counterpoint: a post-genre mashup engineered without any of the irony or data-overload that defined similar efforts in ensuing decades. As ever with the Beasties, the primary impression is one of friendship.