The standout track from the Beastie Boys' smash hit Ill Communication album nearly didn't make it onto the record at all — and when it did, it was the eight-track ADAT mix that made the final cut.
Released on 28th January 1994, a full four months ahead of the hip-hop trio's fourth studio album, Ill Communication, 'Sabotage' is a prime piece of rapcore, featuring Adam 'Ad-Rock' Horovitz's manic yelling backed by a compelling blend of hard rock, rap and scratching. As such, it's the high point of a US chart-topping album that's heavy on rhyming, word battles and funky grooves. It's therefore interesting that, according to Ad-Rock, "'Sabotage' was recorded as an instrumental, and the vocals weren't added until two weeks before the record was completed. It was the last song on Ill Communication to be finished.”
"Musically, that record had a lot of dynamics and impact,” says Mario Caldato Jr, who engineered and co-produced the album. "We lived it and all of the pieces came together.”
A native of São Paolo, Brazil, who relocated to LA with his Italian father and Brazilian mother as a two-year-old in 1963, Caldato — also known as Mario C — has production and engineering credits that include Tone-Loc, Björk, Beck, Super Furry Animals, Money Mark, Marcelo D2, Seu Jorge, Young MC, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Hawaiian folk-rock singer-songwriter Jack Johnson. These are in addition to his work with the Beastie Boys on Paul's Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication and Hello Nasty.
Listening to anything from the bossa nova rhythms of Sérgio Mendes and Brasil '66 to contemporary '60s and '70s pop, rock and soul while growing up in a predominantly black area of Los Angeles, Caldato initially learned to play an organ and piano that his father bought for him.
"The next step was the neighbourhood band, Soul Sticks,” he recalls. "A friend up the street named Dwayne Allen had an electric guitar and amp — a black kid who loved rock & roll and was a huge Beatles fan. I didn't play the organ with him because that was at my house, but I did play percussion; he had maracas and a tambourine, so we'd jam in his room. Then we hooked up with Calvin, another black kid on the same street whose older brother was a jazz musician. He had a Ludwig drum kit, a Fender bass, a Gibson 335 and a Wurlitzer jukebox, so now we'd go to his house and jam along to oldies like Smokey Robinson's 'Tears Of A Clown'. It was really, really a fun time.”
After that little setup had run its course, Caldato did finally get to play the organ in a school rock band. "I wasn't a great keyboard player, I didn't practice, but I enjoyed being in the band and I ended up running the lights and creating crazy sound effects with a synthesizer that I bought,” he says. "I kind of got more into that, and then I had another friend who joined the band; a real keyboard player whose name was Mark Nishita, later known as Money Mark. I always drove the bands around with my station wagon, setting up the PA and lights, and when several of my friends stopped playing I bought some of their instruments and some microphones. The next thing I knew, I was DJ'ing at wedding parties, too. Armed with a little PA mixer, I also did the sound for bands, and that whole thing took off when I quit playing.
"At around the same time, I set up a little studio with Mark. He had a four-track machine but there was no room at his house. So he brought his equipment over to a back-house that I rented from friends and we set up a little studio space in there. He taught me
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