Dust — it’s everywhere!
First I clean it up and then pow! — a week later I’m cleaning all over again. Yeah I’m a neat-freak, so what?!?
Luckily for the the Dust Brothers, their music was just as prevalent throughout the 1990s. They started with several hits for Tone Loc and Young MC that featured heavy sampled drums, gritty electric riffs, and simple to the point raps. However, they really made their name with the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique — a meticulously through-composed work that ranks as one of the best produced albums of all time.

By the mid 90s the Dust Brothers found themselves back in hipster success producing Beck’s seminal album Odelay, White Zombie’s Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds and a couple of tracks for the Rolling Stones. Not too shabby for a few years work… By the end of the millennium they had also produced Hansen’s annoying but amazingly effective MMMBop, the soundtrack to Fight Club, and Beck’s follow-up Midnite Vultures — another great album that perfectly marries the excess and sun-burnt feel of 90s LA with Beck’s quirky lyrics and inimitable delivery.

Moving past the history lesson, let’s get to the music — specifically the musical connections between the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique and Beck’s Midnite Vultures. Sure, both clearly feature the Dust Brothers’ signature bangin’ acoustic beats, dramatic song structure and thoughtful sequencing, but what is so striking is how well they propelled these quirky underground stars into the limelight. Is it because their productions are so strong we don’t notice the silly off-the-wall lyrics (check out Beck’s lyrics to Mixed Business for a good example)? Are the grooves so deep we can’t help but be pulled into the world of Beck and the Boys? A bit of both perhaps?

Without a doubt the Dust Brothers’ production style set the stage for artists like the Chemical Brothers, Moby, and the whole world of big beat and funky breakbeat with their gritty sampled drums, funky bass/guitar lines, freakish analog synth stabs, and soulful hooks. But perhaps it’s something a bit larger than the musical elements alone. Maybe it’s how their productions married the disparate personalities of these artists into a cohesive whole.
Perhaps it’s because both of these albums have a ridiculous amount of Soul; yes that’s Soul with a capitol S. I think so. Similar to when a cook puts that extra bit of love in the gravy the Dust Brothers put a whole lot of Soul in these two albums, and it shows.
Senior Music Analyst


  1. N.B.
    November 02, 2009 at 11:41am
    Thank you, Pandora, for being so great! :)
  2. Michael Addicott
    November 02, 2009 at 2:14pm
    The Beats on Stone Cold Rhymin' by Young MC are some of the cleanest ever. And of course Paul's Boutique is a visionary album. Wonder what these guys are getting into nowadays.
  3. dave
    November 02, 2009 at 9:11pm
    Hi, The soundtrack of Fight-Club is really impressive and perfect for the story and characters.I think Dust Brothers are innovative enough to provide great music at regular intervals in 1990s.
  4. Suzie
    November 03, 2009 at 9:43am
    The dust brothers are a damn good combination, I always thought they were the chemical bros under a diff guise though..
  5. Chris Horgan
    November 03, 2009 at 10:18am
    @ Suzie The Chemical brothers originally named themselves the Dust Brothers - after the original Dust Brothers mentioned in this post. However, the Dust Brothers sued them and they changed their name to the Chemical Brothers. Crazy!
  6. Jon
    November 03, 2009 at 2:16pm
    Didn't the Dust Brothers work on Beck's most recent album, the one with Gamma Ray on it? Exactly how much did they do on Midnite Vultures is what I've been wondering. Beck is in my opinion one of the great musicians and song writers of our time, and I'm particularly impressed by his ability to swing from something like Odelay to something like Midnite Vultures, but is the only reason he didn't get stuck in a grungy folky rut because of people like the Dust Brothers?
  7. David Gauci
    November 03, 2009 at 11:40pm
    I would say that the dust brothers are a really great combination, they sound absolutely awesome! I wish I could be that good at music!
  8. Chris Horgan
    November 04, 2009 at 10:40am
    @ Jon Becks latest album - Modern Guilt - was produced by Danger Mouse. It is a nice progression for Beck - a lil darker and heavier than Guero - which was mostly produced by the Dust Brothers. Are you enjoying the new album? Without being in the studio I can't say how much the Dust brothers Beck did on Midnite Vultures -- apparently they only finished 2 of the track on the album -- however their sampling techniques, rap aesthetic, and overall sound is important to that record. I'm sure Beck wrote the lyrics and melodies - but as to who came up with instrumentation, arrangement, etc - I'm not really sure. Here's a really great article in Sound on Sound that goes into more details about their production style, history and studio: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may05/articles/dust.htm
  9. musical instruments
    November 05, 2009 at 2:58pm
    These musicians are incredible, lots of spirit. Beck always does shine.
  10. Soccer2010
    November 07, 2009 at 12:31pm
    I have never heard of the Dust Brothers until now. THey are really awesome, thanks Pandora for bringing this to my mind.
  11. Rochan
    November 13, 2009 at 10:47am
    Hi Thanks and that great job pandora. Keep it up.
  12. Jes
    November 14, 2009 at 12:43pm
    Man, I love the Dust Brothers! They were great back in the 90's!!
  13. Emma
    November 23, 2009 at 8:26pm
    I wish u could skip more than just 6 songs it would be a ton better if u could skip more than just 6!!! Otherwise pandora is awesome
  14. bev
    November 24, 2009 at 3:19pm
    just joined, love it!!!!

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