“Radio Radio” – Elvis Costello with the Beastie Boys (from the SNL 25th Anniversary Show, circa 2000)

Before you watch this clip, here’s some background …

Elvis Costello made his US debut on “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) in early 1978.  He was supposed to perform “Less Than Zero,” a song about racism in England and Costello got through about 15 seconds of the song before he abruptly cut it and launched into “Radio Radio,” an extremely critical song about the increasing control of media by corporations.

Cut to 22 years later … SNL is broadcasting a 25-year tribute show.  The Beastie Boys perform their hit “Sabotage” when Costello runs on stage and … well … I think you can figure out where it goes from there …  a clever way to pay tribute to one of SNL’s most notorious moments and a terrific performance of one of Costello’s best songs with help from one of the most innovative rock / rap groups of all-time.

Even nearly 40 years later, the lyrics still bite:

“Some of my friends sit around every evening and they worry about the times ahead.
But everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference and the promise of an early bed.
You either shut up or get cut up, they don’t wanna hear about it.
It’s only inches on the reel-to-reel.
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools tryin’ to anesthetize the way that you feel.”

“I’m Down” – The Beastie Boys

After giving high praise to the Beatles’ original, here’s the lost, molar-rattling, rude, and punk-as-hell Beastie Boys cover that was supposed to be included on their legendary Rick Rubin-produced 1986 masterpiece “Licensed to Ill,” but was left off for legal reasons.   Rumor has it that Michael Jackson, by then the copyright owner, put the kabosh on it.  He felt fine licensing the Beatles’ most political song “Revolution” to Nike but … well … that’s another story.   All I can say is … thank God for YouTube.

“She’s On It” – The Beastie Boys

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This is a post-hardcore, but pre-“Licensed to Ill” Beastie Boys from 1985. Produced by Rick Rubin, “She’s On It” provides a nice blueprint of what that landmark album released in 1986 would be, with Rubin’s trademark metal-rap fusion that would explode into the mainstream with the Run DMC/Aerosmith collaboration “Walk this Way” the following year. The video is quite the artifact from the mid-1980s.

“Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun” – The Beastie Boys

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Here’s one of the better tracks from the still-groundbreaking 1989 album “Paul’s Boutique.” Any song that manages to cross-mingle Ocean’s “Put Your Hand in the Hand” and Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” and make such a combo sound positively heavy is a great song in my book. Later covered by Anthrax on the 1993 “Beavis and Butthead Experience” album.

“No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn” – The Beastie Boys

From the Beastie Boys’ debut “Licensed to Ill,” this is the track (even more so than “Fight for your Right”) that sucked me into the world of the Beasties back in 1986.  The title is a shout-out to Motorhead’s classic “No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith” live LP.  The positively sick lead guitar is by Kerry King of Slayer (which becomes prominent when the gorilla starts his solo in the video).  This album is in my all-time Top 20 … and as much as I admired the avant-garde direction the Beasties went later in their career (especially 1989’s “Paul’s Boutique), this is the one I never hesitate to listen to.

“I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale” (2009) dir. Richard Shepard

Not many people remember the late actor John Cazale by name.  But you would instantly recognize him by the amazing characters he played (Fredo in the first two “Godfather” films; Sal, the quiet, but scary bank robber in “Dog Day Afternoon”; and Stan, the loudmouth macho-wannabe ne’er do well in “The Deer Hunter”).  He was only in five feature films, before he died tragically of bone cancer in 1978.  But every one of the films he was in (“The Godfather,” “The Godfather Part II,” “The Conversation,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” and “The Deer Hunter”) was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, three of which actually won the top award.

“I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale” is an-all-too-brief, but great documentary about one of the best character actors in film history.  The fact that so many great actors (Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep, etc.) made it a point to be interviewed for this film is a testament to Cazale’s legacy.

Trivia note: the film was released by the late Adam Yauch’s (MCA of the Beastie Boys) fantastic indie studio Oscilloscope Laboratories.