Jon Caramanica

  • Licensed to Spill

    Few acts in pop-music history have a reputation quite as lenticular as that of the Beastie Boys. As such, their new memoir Beastie Boys Book (Spiegel & Grau, $50) seems to pinball from one reputational-perspective tug-of-war to the next. Are Ad-Rock, Mike D, and MCA innovators or carpetbaggers? Serious musicians or stumblers onto greatness? Agents of positive cross-racial understanding or flimsy bridges between cultures? Curious creative-class kids or schmucks?

    All of the above, according to the stories told, and some merely hinted at, in this enjoyable but carefully circumscribed book, which