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Ben Folds Live
Ben Folds
Ben Folds Live
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1

Ben Folds Live is a stellar exception to the rule that live albums are contractually obliged stocking fillers. Folds is at his best on stage with only a grand piano for company. He is a compelling showman who's blessed wit...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Ben Folds
Title: Ben Folds Live
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sony
Release Date: 10/8/2002
Album Type: Live, Explicit Lyrics
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Style: Adult Alternative
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 696998686328, 5099750976623, 766487074940

Ben Folds Live is a stellar exception to the rule that live albums are contractually obliged stocking fillers. Folds is at his best on stage with only a grand piano for company. He is a compelling showman who's blessed with an unforced charm that complements the anger and melancholy that informs most of his songs: the self-lacerating "Army" loses nothing by having a hall of people bellowing the saxophone and trumpet parts as Folds conducts them. The material here spans Folds' work with the three-piece Ben Folds Five as well as 2001's excellent solo debut. The readings of "Fred Jones," "The Luckiest," and "Brick" display an immediacy and intimacy that transcend the recorded versions. A couple of worthwhile curiosities--a minor chord rearrangement of "Song for the Dumped" and a faithful, affecting version of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" round out the offerings. This is an impeccable document of a superior performer at work. --Andrew Mueller

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CD Reviews

One of the Best Live Performers Ever!
CreepyT | Colorado, United States | 05/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I wasn't a huge Ben Folds fan until I saw him live opening on the Lottapiano's tour for Tori Amos. I was only slightly familiar with Ben Folds Five, and wasn't even aware that he had gone solo. Shame on me! I was missing out on some incredible music. Not only is Ben Folds and incredible live performer, but he's an incredible musician, storyteller, and artist. Unlike so many acts out there today, he has plenty of talent aside from merely holding a microphone and looking pretty. His lyrics are definitely amusing and very witty, and his piano playing is unrivalled (with the exception of his 2003 tour partner Tori). In comparison to what I've heard of Ben Folds Five, I like his solo material better by far. He is certainly talented enough to hold his own on stage without any backup. I believe that sometimes in order to really, truly appreciate someone's music and musical talent, you need to see them live. Luckily, you don't have to fork out the money for expensive concert tickets in order capture that energy and essence in this case. This inexpensive CD does that for you, and believe me, it's worth every penny! Some highlights on this CD include:Track 2 "Zak and Sara;" This song really showcases Ben's piano playing ability, and has really great lyrics. Definitely a song that you will get stuck in your head and find yourself singing all day long!Track 5 "Not the Same;" A great song that manages to be emotional and funny at the same time. Tells the story of a friend who went on an acid trip that changed his life.Track 9 "Brick;" Tells the tragic tale of Ben and his high school girlfriend getting an abortion, and what it feels like. A great slow, emotional song.Track 11 "Army;" Great lyrics that tell a story about Ben Folds getting into music. Very funny song, and great piano playing! This one is particularly fun live when Ben has the audience sing the brass parts.Track 13 "Tiny Dancer;" Ben does and awesome job covering this Elton John song. I never really liked it before until I heard this version. I would recommend this CD to anyone who can appreciate great piano playing and superbly witty lyrics. The only thing this CD doesn't do is capture some of his humorous stories in between songs. If you ever get the opportunity to see Ben Folds live, definitely go see him! You won't regret it!"
One of the best live, EVER
wellwellwell | bog | 03/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Besides Nirvana's notorious Unplugged In New York, this is the best live CD I own. After Ben Folds left Ben Folds Five, I don't think there was a lot of faith in him as a solo artist. But after hearing Rockin' The Suburbs and after this recording, I almost enjoy him more on his own. I realize that many people would strongly disagree; and that's understandable. But even if you don't like Ben as a soloist, you'll still be able to appreciate this album. The CD includes 17 songs. I believe 11 of them are from the Ben Folds Five era. Only four of the songs came from Rockin' The Suburbs. The other two are "Tiny Dancer"; which is a cover of the classic Elton John song, and "Rock This Bxtch"; which is only 1:18 long but the most original, impromptu song to seemingly `spark' from being on stage. Of those four songs from his solo CD, the best are "Fred Jones Part 2" and "Not The Same". "Fred Jones", if you may remember, is a sort-of-sequel to Whatever & Ever Amen song "Cigarette". The song was brilliant when I heard it on the album, but is better here. Cake singer John McCrea appears on both versions, and really adds to its excellence; especially live. The chant of the crowd lets you know when he walks out. It may be my favorite song on this CD. "Not The Same" is a good song, one I've enjoyed more thanks to its appearance on Ben Folds Live. As far as "Zak And Sara" and "The Luckiest", live they're pretty average. "The Luckiest" was better in studio, yet still decent. I don't know much about "One Down" or "Emaline"; but both are good tracks.As I've hinted to, I cannot say enough good things about "Rock This Bxtch" and "Tiny Dancer". Without those two songs the CD would not have gotten 5 stars. It would've only been four. You have to hear "Rock This Bxtch" to believe it. Although my girlfriend has said time and time again that Ben's piano-driven "Tiny Dancer" is not as good as Elton John's piano-driven original, it's still awesome--and in my opinion, much better than the first patented version.As you look at the 11 songs from the Ben Folds Five generation, you'll find some of their unprecedented greats as well as some of their more underrated songs. Fittingly, the CD starts with "One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces", one of their all-time classics. "Best Imitation Of Myself", "The Last Polka", and "Philosophy" are three of, if not THE best off their infamous self-titled debut. "Philosophy" is particularly good, as Ben dubs it `(inc misirlou)' in good fun. Along with Whatever & Ever Amen's "One Angry Dwarf...", Ben Folds Live embraces "Brick". What makes it so special live (here), is that Ben comments on what the song is actually about (at the very end of "Fred Jones Part 2"). Which, if you didn't know, is an abortion he and his girlfriend had once suffered through while their parents were out of town. If you were unaware of this fact; and you like "Brick", you'll soon love it even more. From The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner you'll hear "Jane", "Narcolepsy" and "Army"--my personal favorite Ben Folds/Five song. Ben ends "Army" by rewriting his original lyrics to read: 'I thought about... your mommy', instead of '...the army'. Funny, nonetheless.All things considered, Ben Folds Live is a remarkable live CD. Whether you liked Ben Folds as a member of his three-member group or prefer him solo, you will find yourself enjoying this album thoroughly. However, if you liked one BBF record more than the rest or only know the widely held "Brick", you'll be a bit lost within the music. And although most of the songs are copyrighted to Ben Folds Five, all the songs were recorded solo (except "Fred Jones Part 2" of course). Ben Folds is one of those rare, comical geniuses in a music world filled with flaunty pop singers and endless nameless rap artists. Yet he falls victim to those same persons' fashions and styles. Sadly, I missed a chance to see Ben Folds with his piano at Summerfest (in Milwaukee) this past summer, and it`s the one thing I deeply regret about my life. Honestly. This CD will never be able to make up for that. Yet every song on this CD is excellent. Buy Ben Folds' Ben Folds Live and I assure you it will rank among your favorite Ben Folds/Five and live albums ever; as it will be playing in your CD player over and over again."
Ben Folds - the best kept secret in music today
Maxwell Moses | Arequipa, Peru | 01/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ben Folds is a truly unique musical talent. My older brother got me listening to him a few years back, but it wasn't until I saw him live in concert that I could really appreciate just how deep his music is. I have since bought all five of his cd's spanning his solo career ('Rockin' the Suburbs,' 'Ben Folds Live,' and his three more recently-released LPs). Though 'Ben Folds Live' is missing some of my favorite tracks from his career with Robert Sledge and Darren Jessie as Ben Folds Five, and his smash 2001 debut solo album, it's as close to seeing him in concert as you can get. His recordings of "Zak and Sara," "Not the Same," and "Army" with thousands of screaming fans in the backround had me remiscing of that same magnetic atmosphere that I experienced watching him live last summer. Some of my personal favorites:

"Zak and Sara" - Though I miss "oohing" in the background that Ben rythmically hums in the studio version, his piano playing skills are really magnified in the album's second track. A really easy song to get into, it is a definite must on this all-around solid group of his live performances.

"Best Imitation of Myself" - One of my favorites from his days with Ben Folds Five, you can really hear the crowd getting into it in the backround, and there's a reason for that.

"Not the Same" - Though this rendition hit off Ben's solo debut album isn't "the same" as the original, it is still quite powerful. Ben also displays some humor, briefing the audience with the song's history before bangin' out the first cord on his Baldwin. Though it lacks the jammin' drums which really get it going on the CD version, his use of the crowd for the humming between verses is quite effective, and gives it a more "live-feel."

"One Down" - A solid new and original track, just another byproduct of his creativity. Though most wouldn't view this as one of it's strengths (and admitedly, I'm a little lost as to it's meaning), I really like the rythm and the piano runs as well.

"Brick" - An absolutely beautiful, yet equally sad song, it details his struggles of detailing with an abortion of his high school girlfriend. Without a doubt, this is the song that launched Ben into fame, but his live performance is even more solid than that on "Whatever and Ever Amen." If you listen closely, you'll notice a slight difference in the chord arrangement, but this does nothing to downplay the listening-joy of Ben's first claim to fame.

"Narcolepsy" - Another hit from the 'Five days, this is without a doubt Ben's finest display of his piano talent. The extended piano intro really turns a relatively weak song vocally into one of the hits on the CD in my humble opinion.

"Army" - I got to experience Ben's direction of "Army" live, and man did I get into it! Leading the packed ampetheater of people, half of them being the saxophones, the other half trumpets, it was without a doubt my favorite song at the live concert I went to. His craftiness is once again exemplified as he does the same on "Ben Folds Live," banging out the cords while managing to get his fans involved at the same time. An absolute joy of a listen which you could all really appreciate even more if you ever do get the chance to see him live yourself!

"Philosophy" - He's got his, do you? Whether yours includes wearing a helmet hat or not, you'll be singing the vocals along with Ben (and getting a good laugh out of them at the same time) while blasting this track in your car stereo in no time. His runs on the piano are absolutely astounishing, as he caps it off at the end with an enthusiastic high run which puts a nice finish to a great song.

How he manages to stay out of the real spotlight is a mystery to me. Orginially, I had thought his fan base was rather small, but the word definitely seems to be spreading as of late. In my mind, Ben has already solidified himself up there with the top pianists of the modern era. Ray Charles, Elton John and Billy Joel will soon be in the shadow of Folds, as he continues, along with his fan base, to only get better and better. If you enjoy live performance recordings, than this is a must have!