I first heard Paul's Boutique in 1988 after coming back from London. There, a 1970s fashion craze was sharing the stage with acid house, acid jazz, etc. The Beastie Boys were the first to put something out like this in the states.
I love the city street scene on the cover, the dirty sound that smacks of vinyl records and 8 track tapes. Each track is dense with references to pop culture and samples and snippets from everywhere, I don't know how much of the sound is Beastie Boys and how much the Dust Brothers, but it all comes together.
The snot nosed kid sound of Licensed to Ill is still here, looking for a piece of ass and a window to break. Hey Ladies is a fine example of the good natured fun, slightly malicious and politically incorrect. Likewise with Car Thief, but there is a kind of warped record sound that makes it all sound a bit ominous. In the lyrics, there are stirrings of deeper things to come such as A Year and a Day which are gonna lead into the Buddhist chanting and philosophizing in Check Your Head. Most of all it is funny as hell and has an excellent groove from start to finish.
If you buy one Beastie Boys CD this is the one.