Despite reports of Beastie Boys recording activity, a new album may still be years away. So some entrepreneurial sharpie decided the time was right to put out the vinyl-only Up Close & Personal collection of live recordings, alternate mixes and studio outtakes. The bad-bootleg-quality live material is a waste of time. However, the inclusion of tracks lost in legal limbo due to sample clearance issues makes this hilariously legitimate-looking LP enticing to fans. The Beatles-jacking I'm Down (featuring what sounds like a 14-year-old Mike D), their classic AC/DC rip Rock Hard, Biz Markie's sideways salute to Elton John, Biz & Beastie (Beenie & the Jets), and Mixmaster Mike's cut-up goof on Rush's Tom Sawyer make it worth checking.
Speaking of hiphop's forgotten old school, Landspeed Records recently launched its Essential series with two dope sampler discs you actually need. Essential Old School Hip Hop covers the ground-floor days of party rockin' with a cool assortment of less obvious faves like TJ Swan's And You Know That, Marvelous Three's Rappin All Over and both parts of Afrika Bambaataa's Zulu Nation Throw Down. Just as sweet is the 19-track Essential Underground set, a killer thugged-out selection topped by Cormega's Built For This (with the sickest loop you ever heard), Guru & Master Ace's Conflict remix and 50 Cent's gritty throwdown U Not Like Me, which is better than anything on his new chart-topping disc. At $10 a pop, you can't go wrong.
Don't let the banal sleeve design, short tracks and unfamiliar artist names on Via Brazil (Brasilia Discos) put you off. This boring-looking LP casually claiming "nine rare Brazilian recordings from the 60s and 70s" actually holds an unrelenting onslaught of dance floor destruction. Choice previously uncomped cookers like Zito Righi's bangin' Berimbau, Orlann Divo's hot Beleza Não Vai Embora and Burnier & Cartier's sumptuous Mirandolina are all pricey treasures, the combined collectors' cost of which would set you back... oooh... don't even ask. Just get this thing.
The legendary status of San Antonio funk combo Mickey and the Soul Generation would've been secure with their feedback-boosted Hammond jams, Iron Leg and Football, alone. But devoted fan Josh Davis, aka DJ Shadow, has dug up two discs' worth of extra material along with the group members to properly tell the whole MSG story on Iron Leg: The Complete Mickey And The Soul Generation (Cali-Tex/Quannum). Vinyl hounds should note that the CD version contains bonus live joints, but nothing you'd want to drop in a set. Our man Shadow also has a go at writing the liner notes, in which he confesses his life-changing funk epiphany occurred while listening to a cheesy UK acid jazz comp in 92. I don't think he was going for humour, though.