Bryan Wilson | Lexington, MA United States | 04/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"this is how you make a live album. too many artists simply throw together a bunch of hits that they took to the road and package a live recording to make a quick buck from fans who can't afford to follow them cross-country. from the outset of "live from mars", it's clear that harper has put considerable effort into assembling this project. literally sifting through hours of recorded material from the past seven years (nearly every show was taped), he picked out what he thought were the best versions of the best songs. nearly every selection surpasses its album counterpart musically and emotionally. tellingly, the opening disc's "burn one down," features an ecstatic crowd singing along to every word. another crowd favorite, a guitar-driven cover of marvin gaye's "sexual healing," carries the energy and vivacity a live track should have. a fitting close to the first disc (which features harper backed by his full band, the innocent criminals) is the jaw-dropping medley of the 1997 hit "faded," and the led zeppelin classic "whole lotta love." those eleven minutes undeniably confirm this band's ability to display their grittier rock-n-roll roots. jimi hendrix would be proud. of course, as you might expect if you are familiar with harper's shows, he just happened to throw in a second, entirely acoustic disc - a man and his guitar, as the saying goes. it serves as an ideal balance to the first disc in its simplistic, mellower mood. kicking off with the beautiful "waiting on an angel," this set makes it known that this is the ben harper we know best, a compassionate, reflective singer/songwriter who finds beauty and simplicity in everything. unlike many of his contemporaries, he can pull this off without seeming forced or sappy, or even worse, boring. his startling cover of the verve's "the drugs don't work," and a remarkable take on his brooding "another lonely day," exhibit these abilities best. harper finishes with the political "like a king," and the maya sngelou inspired "i'll rise," another medley of epic, though more subdued, proportions. what's wrong with all this, you ask? well, it's nitpicking to argue with the track-list, as harper did his best to include personal as well as fan favorites. the one drawback is that it's rather difficult to swallow so much quality material at once, but in reality, that just speaks to harper's accomplishments as a dedicated and gifted musician. if you like ben harper at all, i can't imagine any disappointment after listening to this."
Ben looks good on Mars
Kimberly Kelley | Terre Haute, IN | 03/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I waited for weeks in anticipation of this album. I picked it up the night it was released, and stayed up till 2:00 listening to it. It was that good.Disc 1 is Ben backed up by the Innocent Criminals, playing some of his best electric work. "Glory and Consequence" is a marvelous way to start this album. A little later Ben plays his one-of-a-kind cover of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing". This is a concert staple for Ben, and the live album probably wouldn't be complete without it. "Steal my kisses" is introduced with some awesome beats, and gives the song a whole new sound by speeding it up a bit. "Burn one down" could be considered a political anthem, but it's hard to think about politics with Ben's beautiful voice uttering "if you don't like my fire, don't come around, I'm gonna burn one down." You get swept up in the music, and the fact that the audience knew all of the words, and sang along quite nicely, added to the superbness of this song. "Forgiven" provides us with a guitar solo of epic proportions, but it's not overdone. Finally, Ben goes into "Faded", a great song in it's own right, but the added cover of Zeppelin's Whole lotta love" makes it even better, and putting the two songs with eachother worked very well.Disc 2 is solo, acoustic Ben. The Ben that we all fell in love with first. "Waiting on an angel" is truly beautiful, and a hellofa way to start off the album, it really sets the tone. "Please Bleed" in acoustic form is, in my opinion, better than his studio version. he gets very emotional on this track and reminds you a lot of "Fight for your mind" songs. "Not fire, not ice" is also a concert staple, and the lyrics on here are really captivating. "Beloved one" is drawn out a bit from it's studio version, which turns it into a very attractive love song. The last song "Like a king" is just one of Ben's many political songs. It tells of two Kings, Martin Luther, and Rodney, and brings them together over the L.A. riots. He adds to this song Maya Angelou's "I'll rise" poem, which was meant to be sung; this is obvious after you hear it.If you've been to a Ben concert, you know how powerful they can be. This album is a very good representation of his live performances. He combines old songs, new songs, cover songs and gives it his all, and puts in pure emotion to make one of the best albums out there."
This will be a Classic!
bartbort | Indiana | 03/27/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just bought this cd this morning and I can't stop listening to it already! This is the absolute best live album I have ever heard. The atmosphere from a Ben concert is hard to put into words, but by listening to these two cds you're almost there. Disc one is a mix of great live versions of the more upbeat songs, while disk two is the acoustic sets. This album includes awesome versions of all of the crowd favorites: "Ground on Down", a cover of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing", and OF COURSE "Burn One Down", but the real winners are on Disk two- EVERY song either gives me chills or brings tears to my eyes (or both). This album's version of "In the Lord's Arms" is unbelievable and "Walk Away" (one of my all-time favorite Ben songs, and life-mottos) is amazing. Every song on this album is so heartfelt and real and strong- Ben is a TRUE musician... I don't like the way he is only associated with "Steal my Kisses" on the radio and MTV, but if it makes more people buy his albums to listen to everything else that he is and that he can do then I'm happy. If you've never heard Ben before other than "Steal my Kisses", definately buy this album- I promise you will be forever grateful, and if you're a Ben fan already- this cd embodies a Ben concert and what I feel Ben's music is all about and it will be a great addition to any cd collection!"
Gloucester | Los Anglese, CA | 07/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I came across Ben Harper on accident from reading a review on amazon about Jack Johnson. After downloading Waiting on an Angel I immediately went out and bought this cd because I love live music because it feels more human and because it had the most material on it for the cheapest. This cd has touched my soul and ever since I bought this album over a year ago I have continually played this cd over and over again finding something new everytime; an amazing lyric, a great guitar part, a beautiful vocal inflection, etc. Ever song on here has it's own good point and I love EVERY single song on this cd, so without any rating system here is a brief description of each song on this amazing, life changing cd.Glory & Consequence - A great rock song that is even better live because of the distortion. This song has intelligent lyrics about life and death.Excuse Me Mr. - Wonderful political song covering the general subject of corporate america. Great dynamics throughout the song, which allows it to rock even though it's on acoustic guitar.Alone - Amazing song with a guitar part that sounds like a drum beat and a driving bass part. Excellent lyrics about life in general.Sexual Healing - Fun little cover of the Marvin Gaye classic. Lyrics are kind of corny, but sounds nice because it guitar driven and has nice vocal harmonies.Woman In You - What a great song... Hendrix style riff with falsetto singing over it, then goes into a hard rocking part with absolute wailing singing by Ben, and a wonderful chorus lyric.Ground On Down - Funky, yet hard rocking. Amazing, intelligent, passionate lyrics about life and love that require repeated listens.Steal My Kisses - Fun, upbeat reggae-ish style song. Amazing bass part, the verse riff and the bass solo really show off Juan Nelson's talent.Burn One Down - Ben's tribute to Bob Marley's redemption song with a lyric about smoking weed... Enjoyable song...Mama's Got A Girlfriend - This is the playful side of Ben Harper and is sure one fun ditty... Great slide work on this one.Welcome to the Cruel World - Extremely slow, extremely profound song... Touches my soul deeply especially when ben sings "If you want to feel me put your hands up to the sky" over the chimes from the precussionist... Brilliant!Forgiven - An awesome live rendition of an amazing song... Great lyrics on this one, but what makes it shine on this cd is this extended intro and the extended solo section...Faded/Whole Lotta Love - Ben and his band really know how to rock out as they take one of Ben's rocking compositions, hit some Zeppelin, and then go back into Faded... Waiting On An Angel - A beautiful waltz rhythm with some of the best lyrics I've ever encountered... Why I feel in love with Ben...Roses From My Friends - What a perfect song with some brilliant, poetic lyrics that just touches me deeply...Power of the Gospel - I don't believe in god, but I love this song...Pleasure and Pain - Ben's first song ever written.. Is so great because of the inticing guitar part and lyrics filled with hope and despair...Please Bleed - The lyrics on this song are so amazing... The pain and submission of the music permeates your whole being..The Drugs Don't Work - Great lyrics on this cover of the Verve... Prefer Ben's singing to the original and his hushed singing and slight echo make it even more beautiful...In the Lord's Arms - Wasn't crazy about this song upon first listen, but I now love it as one of Ben's best... Can be related to anyone who has had a loved one that has died...Not Fire, Not Ice - This is the perfect love song... Sums up so many sincere feelings about love...Beloved One - Carries on in the same vain as not fire, not ice and waiting on an angel... This man continues to come up with thoughful, perfect lyrics about love...#3 - What a sweet lullabye... Ben's best instrumental sounds even better in the live setting... Just a lovely melody...Walk Away - I love this song so, so much... Some of the greatest lyrics about loss ever written.. Has a gorgeous guitar part that is much better on this cd than Welcome to the Cruel World because he slowed it down and added more vocal inflections.. Another Lonely Day - Such a beautiful guitar part, complemented with a gorgeous melody, and incredible lyrics... What more could you ask for in a song?Like A King/I'll Rise - At first I didn't like the lyrics for Like a King because I misunderstood them, but I could never deny the virtuosity of the slide guitar solo in it... I'll Rise is treated nicely with sparse music, but a lot of soul...I can't say enough good things about this cd... Most of these songs I could listen to for my whole life and never get sick of them... Highly, highly recommended... Has touched my soul and "branded me so far beneath the skin." After you buy this go discover all the other brilliant songs Ben Harper has on his other cds, yes, there's more... Emotion filled, soulful music at its finest..."
I already love this album
kresnels | Culver City, CA United States | 05/18/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those who don't about know them, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals are going to be a pleasant surprise: their music has this incredibly big sound, but the material is very introspective and personal. Ben Harper as a musician is a study in contrast also: his vocals are kind of reminiscent of Cat Stevens if he was a gospel singer, and he plays these blistering licks and chords, completely without any showmanship at all, dictated by his lap-style playing.Live from Mars is a great title, and a great description. It's a two-record set of live recordings; seemingly recorded in a variety of venues and edited together. This gives the entire album a kind of weird disconnected feeling - the recordings are soundboard mixes that eliminate most of the crowd noise, but it actually serves the songs pretty well. The two discs have been organized to be Loud (disc one) and Quiet (disc two) - kind of splitting up the flow of a coherent performance. While this would be my only complaint, it does allow you to listen to an entire record of your preference, however.Ben Harper's albums can be a little spotty because the variety of his playing: from bluegrass and zydeco-influenced, to wailing rock guitar, to funky covers of Motown. His live shows are incredible however, and with live recordings like Live From Mars, we'll never need a greatest hits record. This album is a complete out-of-body experience, either Loud or Quiet. If you like great songwriting that has a great vibe and a great rhythm, or you just like artists that don't sound like anyone else, get this record."