Anyone who has ever ventured into a club that plays anything remotely “alternative” will be well-versed in the ways of House Of Pain‘s Jump Around, a 1992 dancefloor filler packed with catchy loops and white boy rapping whose chorus’ instruction is still obeyed by the masses to this day.
What may not be so well-known, however, is House Of Pain’s roots in their frontman Everlast‘s Eminem-before-he-was-Eminem solo material, or their legacy when Everlast did a volte-face and became an acoustic guitar-strumming blues merchant.
This compilation, like most other “Best Of” sets, is clumsily assembled (no doubt it was cobbled together quickly to satisfy the Suits) and not a “Best Of” at all, given that it doesn’t include Top O’ The Morning To Ya, one of House Of Pain’s best known “other” songs, and, even more criminally, Put Your Lights On, Everlast’s 1999 Grammy Award-winning collaboration with Santana. But then, when have record company politics ever not got in the way of artistic integrity?
Still, provided you can overlook these glaring mistakes, and get past the random track ordering, there’s much to whet the palate here.
I Got The Knack, Never Missin’ A Beat and The Rhythm (the latter featuring Ice-T), all taken from Everlast’s 1990 tautological solo album Forever Everlasting, aren’t the ones to do this, however. I Got The Knack’s clever use of the My Sharona sample aside, the beats sound far too dated now and Everlast’s self-absorbed rapping is not Vanilla Ice but not exactly Outkast either.
Two years, Everlast brought in his mates Danny Boy and DJ Lethal, hooked up with Cypress Hill‘s Muggs on production, and House Of Pain was born. Yes, their “we’re Irish us” branding was more than a little irritating (they were about as Irish as a theme pub in Skegness; DJ Lethal was of Latvian extraction!), but the likes of Jump Around, Shamrocks And Shenanigans (Boom Shalock Lock Boom) and On Point had crossover potential a-plenty – funky rhythms and quick rapping for the hip-hoppers, hooky melodies for the pop kids and enough hard edge and cocksure swagger to get more open-minded rockers interested.
In fact, it is House Of Pain’s 1993 collaboration with archetypal grunge-metallers Helmet that is the highlight of this collection. Just Another Victim, taken from the film Judgement Day, is a monumental four-minute collision of metal and rap, with the first half given over to an absolutely crunching guitar riff, thumping percussion and impassioned vocals from Page Hamilton’s crew, before Everlast & co take over with some suitably aggressive rapping. The whole thing’s almost worth buying for this track alone.
After House Of Pain’s split in 1996 it was a bit of a shock to hear Everlast reinvented as a singer/songwriter. What It’s Like, taken from his multi-platinum Whitey Ford Sings The Blues album, was the sound of maturity, both musically (this was reflective blues for the hip-hop generation) and lyrically (the same man who’d sung, “If your girl steps up, I’m smacking the ho,” in Jump Around was now telling moving stories: “Max lost his head / He pulled out his chrome .45 / Talked some s**t / And wound up dead / Now his wife and his kids are caught in the midst of all of his pain”). In Everlast’s case, growing up was definitely a good thing.
In summary, while Shamrocks & Shenanigans is far from flawless, it does a reasonable job of summarising the careers of House Of Pain and Everlast, careers that had their fair share of naff moments, but also fleeting times of genius. Everlast, of course, still has a career, only with a different record label. Presumably, the Suits don’t want you to know that.