Ben Folds Five

Ben Folds Five

Naked Baby Pictures

Caroline

Even though BFF have signed to a bigger label, and now that they are getting their due from the fringe masses with the hit “Brick,” Caroline has issued a b-takes/outsides collection that is better than most bands regular albums, and is an absolute must for the ardent fan.

Seven outtakes/demos are offered up with seven live takes from their original album (only one from the recent Whatever and Ever Amen). And there are two live soundcheck songs, improvised, that are certainly interesting and fun, even showing off their musical prowess and quick thinking, one of which produces a quirky cross for them — a la Beastie Boyds Five.

The live tracks offer new introspections and observations, and practically capture the incredible amount of energy and sense of humor that they spew live. Positive proof; “Satan Is My Master.” Also included is the first recording they ever made (“Jackson Cannery” live) up through some of their last tour for the recent album, including the “morphing by day” single “Song For the Dumped.”

The “new” demos are excellent, and cause me to wonder how a record company can cut a few tracks off an album simply to keep to their favorite number of tracks. Definitely album quality and worth the price of the disc alone. They couldn’t have been outtakes because they lacked the energy or spirit of the others; it must have been a time and space thing.

And speaking of ardent fans, I happen to know that there are still some unreleased demos out there, so maybe one of their record companies will see to it that I get my hands on them sooner or later. In the meantime, if you’re new to Ben Folds Five, get one of their other albums before you get this one, and you will. And if you’ve already got their others, well then, you’ve probably already got this one by now, too. Caroline Records, 104 W. 29th St., New York, NY 10001

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