The Adam “MCA” Yauch - Jay “Burzootie” Burnett collaboration known as the Drum Machine 12” (DJ004) was released exclusively on vinyl in 1985. Over the years it has remained one of the rarest and most sought after Def Jam releases. Although it was never commercially released on compact disc, budget minded fans of the Beastie Boys can score a recently repressed unlicensed vinyl copy through an online auction service like eBay.com. Obviously mp3s of the album’s three tracks: “Drum Machine,” “Drum Machine (Mini Jerk edit),” and “Drum Machine (Psycho Dust Version)” circulate among fans. Yet, there is nothing quite like the feel of Drum Machine’s purple Def Jam cardboard sleeve in one’s hand.
It is worth mentioning that to one degree or another, Burzootie was involved with all of Def Jam’s purple sleeved released. Somewhat similarly to Rick Rubin, Burnett had attended New York University’s film school. Combine that with the fact that prior to working with the Beastie Boys, Burnett had been involved within New York’s hip-hop and dance club scene; it comes as no shock that he teamed up on both Rock Hard and Drum Machine. At the time, Burnett had the hot hip-hop hit factory known to those in the business as Shakedown Sound. To this day the reputation of Shakedown Sound Studios still speaks volumes, because Burzootie along with the Latin Rascals went on to put out some of hip-hop’s hottest releases including Afrika Bambaattaa’s Planet Rock, which was later used to as a backing track during the Beastie Boys’ 1997 Tibetan Freedom concert performance.
In addition to working on hip-hop projects, Jay Burnett also worked with classic rock legends like Bob Dylan and British rocker Jeff Beck. Burnett even played on percussion on Jeff Beck’s Flash album (1985). It was shortly after that Burzootie left New York for London and at about the same time that the Beastie Boys were gearing up for the 1986 tour. Having already conquered the hip-hop world, Burnett set his sights on the then up and coming European club sounds of the 1990s.
If you are at all curious about Burzootie’s post Def Jam recordings, pick up his Euphoria compilation (2002) which showcases his ability to make a jaw-dropping mix disc. If you want a vinyl crate digging challenge, try to hunt down a copy of Jay Burnett’s own version of Drum Machine. It was released in limited quantities on his label Jayco Records.