On this day in music history: July 25, 1989 - “Paul’s Boutique”, the second album by the Beastie Boys is released. Produced by the Beastie Boys, The Dust Brothers, and Mario Caldato, Jr., it is recorded at Mario C’s, The Opium Den in Los Angeles, CA, and The Record Plant in New York City from Mid 1988 - Early 1989. After the huge multi-platinum success of their debut album “Licensed To Ill”, the Beasties have a falling out with their label Def Jam Records over royalty payments and creative control, leading them to the leave the label in 1988. Quickly signed by Capitol Records, the band relocate to California to begin work on their second album at the home studio of Delicious Vinyl Records co-founder Matt Dike. The Beasties collaborate with The Dust Brothers on the project, constructing the tracks from dense layers of samples from R&B, funk, rock records, and numerous other musical genres. The completed results differ greatly from the Beastie Boys first album, and initially is looked upon as a commercial disappointment (in spite of positive reviews) when it initially sells roughly 700,000 copies (compared to the four million plus sales of “Licensed To Ill” at the time). However, the album grows in stature during the 90’s, with fan websites appearing on the internet discussing the album’s intricate sampling as well as identifying the samples featured within. In time, it comes to be regarded as one of the greatest Hip Hop albums of all time. The albums cover photo features a wide panoramic shot of Ludlow Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City. The original vinyl LP is released with two variations of the cover art. The first being a regular gatefold LP jacket, and the second being a limited edition version with a eight panel foldout featuring the complete photographic image on the outside and inside of the jacket. “Paul’s Boutique” peaks at number fourteen on the Billboard Top 200, number twenty four on the R&B album chart, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
Opium Den in Singapore, 1941 - Despite being targeted by law enforcement across the globe at the start of the 20th century, opium and opium dens were prevalent fixtures in east Asia, the United States, and Europe up until the mid-1950′s. In the above photograph, opium smokers in Singapore relax in a sparsely furnished opium den, suggesting that the clientèle were mostly working class.