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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ben Folds: Songs For Goldfish


1) In Between Days; 2) Gone; 3) Hiro's Song; 4) You To Thank; 5) Weather Channel Music; 6) Evaporated; 7) There's Always Someone Cooler Than You; 8) Rockin' The Suburbs; 9) Radio Jingles For Tokyo's Inter-FM; 10) Side Of The Road.

Since this album was originally released as a bonus disc to go along with Songs For Silverman, it does not deserve a detailed review, but is still worth a quick mention — being the only official live Ben Folds release where he is (a) actually backed by a band and (b) the band is not the Ben Folds Five, but a different trio, where Jared Reynolds replaces Robert Sledge, and Lindsay Jamie­son replaces Darren Jessee, and both try to play as close to the Five's rhythm section as possible, right down to putting all that brawny distortion on the bass for extra rock power. They do make a good job of it, for that matter, but I guess Ben wouldn't have hired them otherwise, not to mention putting the results on the public market.

The collection is a little rag-taggy, with the first five tracks taken from a 2005 show in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, two «rocking» tracks recorded at an L.A. show one year earlier, and an oldie left­over from the «real solo» days for complect (a piano-only run through ʽEvaporatedʼ from a 2002 NYC show). Rounding up the relatively short selection are a couple of cute, but ultimately worth­less radio jingles, and a forgettable studio outtake — a cover of Lucinda Williams' ʽSide Of The Roadʼ, which is only slightly less boring than the original, and anyway, I think it must be hard to be a deep-level fan of Ben Folds and Lucinda Williams at the same time.

Of the live selections, two are particularly notable: ʽWeather Channel Musicʼ is a four-minute piece of jazzy improv that starts out as an «anti-reaction» to ʽRock This Bitchʼ ("I've personally done about fifty different styles of ʽRock This Bitchʼ, there's no more styles left!") and then, much to the satisfaction of all the sane fans (rather than the ones that keep bawling "rock this bitch!" in an honestly scary manner), moves into the world of scat singing and flashy piano rolls. And the live take on ʽRockin' The Suburbsʼ, rearranged now as a piano trio, pokes even more vicious fun at the «rock mentality», extended as it is to six and a half minutes of hullabaloo, mu­si­cal and verbal hooliganry ("you better watch out cuz I'm gonna say fuck!!!" — and he does) — a respectable companion to the more restrained studio original.

And that's about it, actually. It's a little strange that only ʽYou To Thankʼ is carried over from Songs For Silverman itself, but supposedly Ben wanted this, too, to look like a little retrospec­tive (if you throw in ʽEvaporatedʼ, the album covers most of the phases of his career from 1997 to 2005), and this is as representative as he could make it, given the short time length. All in all, nothing essential, but a nice bonus chunk for the deeply admiring and the casual fan alike if you can get it for free or close to it. Besides, you have to have it if you wanna complete the puzzle of the genuine album title — Goldfish and Silverman can't do without each other.

Check "Songs For Goldfish" (CD) on Amazon

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