Friday, February 06, 2009

FDF Volume 2 Issue 125: Ben Harper - The Will to Live

By: March

Album - The Will to Live
Artist - Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals
Key Players - Louis Allen - bass, Alan Anderson - Guitar, Dean Butterworth - drums. Ben Harper - guitar, lead vocals, saz, weissenborn
Produced By - J.P. Plunier

Release Date - June 17, 1997

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- I heard a a later track from Ben recently (Steal My Kisses) and realized it has been a while since I had listened to any of his cds.

Overview - This is Ben Harper's third cd, and second w/the Innocent Criminals. This album was largely written on the road while touring in support of the bands prior album. Ben would adapt a weissenborn into his playing repertoire even more. The instrument looks a little like an acoustic guitar but its played flat on its back in the performers lap. Ben, and the band continue to have popular and critical acclaim to this day.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - A deep guitar groove with drums brings up "Faded". Harper has an effect on his voice that puts a little compression that meets phasing. It is a cool effect and the bass work is terrific. At the 2:30 mark there is an acoustic breakdown that almost confuses the listener since it was so intense leading up to this part. The grinding riff is a show stopper and the drums bring it all back together for a great finish. A slow fade up, with a blues riff feel bring sup "Homeless Child". The track appears to be recorded in mono with Harper giving a higher vocal delivery. The track keeps the sort of laid back blues feeling throughout. "Number Three" is a completely instrumental track, pretty, but too short almost. With a slow build up, and focus on the shimmer of Ben's vocals "Roses from My Friends" begins. Its a quiet laid back song, then the hammer drops and the players spread their collective music wings. There is a guitar solo, not too flashy but it gets the point across strongly. The bass and guitar feed off one another great on this track. There is a false ending that is awash with some droning keyboards. The clack of the drums set "Jah Work" in motion. The song has a very "flamenco" feel to it, and the cymbals on the drum set do that cool "splash" sound a lot. A very slappy sounding snare on "I Want to Be Ready" kicks off what turns out to be somewhat boring and plodding track. With a lot deeper of a groove "The Will to Live" comes up. The drums hit a little harder but its restrained at times, its finds it's groove and sits in that very slot which is great, and 45 seconds in we really get rolling to one of the stand out tracks on the record. The swooping bass lines alone are worth it. With some short bass notes Ben comes right in on "Ashes". A quiet track with a lush saxophone solo giving it a very jazz feel. Ben shines on the solo acoustic track "Widow of a Living Man". A quicker guitar on "Glory & Consequence" intro with the bass is a nice touch. There are some big bass notes drizzling over the top of everything as the song gets into the groove. There is a very heavy percussive presence on the track, making the song really quite fun. Another very fun track is "Mama's Trippin'". Musically speaking this is cast off of anything that Stevie Wonder laid down in the 1970's. Deep funk grooves with a great horn section and some deep bass slaps and pops. A terrific track. We mellow things out for the albums closer "I Shall Not Walk Alone". A single acoustic guitar and very subdued Harper on vocals, a mellow, but decent closer.

Where are they now?
- Ben is still active both writing and touring. The latest project he has in the works is called Relentless7 and they are expected to release an album in the middle part of 2009.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I have seen Ben Harper three times, but all three times were as a support act. The first time was for the Dave Matthews Band June 7, 1996 at Great Woods, then September 15, 1998 for Pearl Jam at the same venue. The last time was at Foxboro stadium opening for Dave Matthews on July 9, 2000.

FDF Overall Take - On some of his recent records Ben and I have grown apart a little. I am not sure if its the total laid back feel or what, but he is far to talented a guy to release some of the sadly boredom filled records in recent memory. Records like this spark a fire that has me wanting to go back and reach for both the new and older releases, just to be sure I really am not missing anything.

The Official page is here.
Also, more information on the weissenborn

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

the mp3s have been removed. they were

Glory & Consequence
The Will to Live

All the tracks were taken from "The Will to Live" which you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 10:53 AM, Blogger Liberated In Theory said...

I'll tell you why you've grown apart. When he married Laura Dern, his music became pussified. She ruins everything she touches. Also, my word verification was peemini. - kp

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Ryan said...

I really like this album. Used to listen to it in the car all the time!


Post a Comment

<< Home