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Junkyard Band

The Beastie Boys - Junkyard Band connection dates back to 1985, when the boys in the Junkyard Band were signed to Def Jam Records. A photo taken of both groups hanging out together at the contract signing party was later used for a Def Jam promotion 8 X 10. When that promotional photograph appeared on we snapped it up and from there started digging around to find out more about this group. It turns out that the original Junkyard Band was a group of around 10 adolescents who specialized in a form of music known as “Go-go.” With it roots in Washington, D.C., Go-go was more of a derivative of seventies funk, than it was a sub-set of eighties hip-hop.

In an era that preceded other popular young acts like Kriss-Kross, and Another Bad Creation, the young men in the Junkyard Band capitalized on their sound and unique look. They quickly went from playing house parties to opening for Run D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys. This rapid rise to fame came with the release of their Def Jam 12” single “The Word”/ “Sardines.” In another classic case of a b-side being more popular than the 12 inch record’s a-side, the song “Sardines” has now gone on to be track which the group is best known for. It was “Sardines” that you hear the group performing about 25 minutes into the movie Tougher Than Leather (1988). Also fans of the song, the Beastie Boys have been known to detour in the middle of performing “The Maestro” and sing a few lines from “Sardines” as well.

What became of the Junkyard Band? Well, the group’s timing was as much a blessing as it was a curse. Def Jam’s record sales really began to soar in 1986 and 1987 due to releases from the Beastie Boys (Licensed to Ill), LL Cool J (Bigger and Deffer), and Public Enemy (Yo! Bum Rush the Show). With the success of these groups, more of Def Jam’s time and resources went into promoting them on an international level. Thus, the lesser known Def Jam artists like the Junkyard Band, Davy DMX, and Oran “Juice” Jones took a back seat to the label’s superstars. This was unfortunate because anyone who has ever picked up a copy of Davy D’s album, which features DJ Hurricane, or heard the Junkyard Band’s “The Word/Sardines” 12” single knows that these acts also had the potential for gold plated greatness.

In the February/March 2006 issue of Waxpoetics, there is an article (in the magazine’s “reDiscovery” section) which makes mention of the fact the Junkyard Band recorded five songs after being signed to Def Jam. If you do the calculation, this leaves three songs unreleased for over twenty years. A perfect place for the release of these fabled tracks would have been on the Def Jam 10th Anniversary 4 CD box set. Sadly though, the Def Jam box set did not feature any Junkyard Band recordings.

Twenty-plus years after signing to Def Jam, the members of the Junkyard Band (Baker, Black Pooh, Blue Eyed Darryl, Buggs, Dave, Jason, KC, Lil Mike, Gene Pratt, and T-Bob) continue to perform around the east coast. After re-uniting in 2003, they have independently released a couple of new CDs. If you are curious, these newer recordings can be bought online through vendors who specialize in go-go music.

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