CD Review: Ben Folds, The Best Imitation Of Myself: A Retrospective (3 CD)

It's been sixteen years since Ben Folds Five released their eponymous debut album, so we've been way overdue for a greatest hits compilation. With the release of the sixty-one-song The Best Imitation Of Myself: A Retrospective, not only is the wait over, but it's been worthwhile.

The first CD is a sampling of some Ben's most popular songs during his tenure with the band and his solo career. It's a good mix that runs from Ben Folds Five up to 2011's collaboration with author Nick Hornby, Lonely Avenue. However, as this disc also doubles as the single-disc offering, I feel it's missing important songs that belong on a Ben Folds greatest hits compilation like "Song For The Dumped," "Army," "Battle Of Who Could Care Less," and "Zak And Sara." All four of these songs do appear on the second disc, which contains twenty-one live performances recorded between 1997 and 2011. The standout cut on this disc is his cover of Wham's "Careless Whisper" with Rufus Wainwright. The twenty-two track third disc contains rarities, alternate versions, and demos of Folds' songs. You'll also find covers of Steely Dan's "Barrytown," The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights," Dr. Dre's "Bitches Ain't Shit," and Ke$ha's "Sleazy."

But the real draw to this compilation is the three songs performed by the reunited Ben Folds Five. Disc One boasts "House" while Disc Three contains "Stumblin' Home Winter Blues" and "Tell Me What I Did." While all three are great, "Tell Me What I Did" stands out as a quintessential Ben Folds Five song. The song was written by Robert Sledge before the band broke up, deals with school kids angst, references pop culture ("The kids formed a circle just like Enter The Dragon"), and would not not sound out of place on one of Ben Folds Five's three studio albums.

The three-CD set might be a little too much for the average person who only knows of Folds as the guy behind "Brick" or who appears on The Sing-Off. But for the rest of us, it's a treasure trove of unreleased gems, culminating in the three tracks by the reunited Ben Folds Five, which further whets our appetite for the rumored full album from the band due next year.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...