In 1999 the Beastie Boys were doing it pretty sweet, they’d released Hello Nasty a year earlier and netted themselves two Grammy awards for the effort. One of the guys, Mike D, had just formed his own record label named Grand Royal Records. It was almost Christmas.
Of course Mike’s first order of business was to record a full country album with his band and press it to vinyl, a tongue-in-cheek present for family and friends.
This is the story of Country Mike’s Greatest Hits, a joke album recorded by the Beastie Boys as one of the most elaborate Christmas presents ever.
Most reports claim that around 300 original copies were pressed, making Country Mike’s Greatest Hits the rarest Beastie Boys records out there – far more scarce than even their numbered 2000 anthology The Sounds Of Science or various special editions released over the years.
When news of the album had leaked and Mike D began to be questioned about its existence, he manifested various tales about Country Mike, his background, and even his own sanity. Sometimes Country Mike was a figment of Mike D’s imagination, sometimes he was an old friend from a troubled upbringing, other times he didn’t exist at all.
After the initial 1999 release a few bootlegs were pressed, so be wary if you catch a copy online. Here’s a handy guide to spotting a bootleg.
Listen to the album in its entirety below.