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Whatever and Ever Amen [Bonus Tracks]

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Ben Folds Five 31/8/1997

Review

Music in the mid-2000s seems more diverse and stratified. But in the general guitar-bass-drum format of '90s alternative rock, the Ben Folds Five piano-and-rhythm show really was an anomaly. This is a point of pride for Folds in his notes for the expanded, newly remastered edition of Whatever and Ever Amen, his band's 1997 commercial breakthrough. "We...had moved my baby grand all by ourselves for three years into every punk rock club in America that didn't want us there," he writes. "Singing Broadway harmonies and playing pretty chords to upset the indie kids." "Brick" was the unlikeliest of hit singles, a sad piano story nevertheless propelled by its poignant chorus and Folds' delivery as the slacker forced by circumstance to grow up fast. And a Todd Rundgren/Joe Jackson nod like "Selfless, Cold and Composed" wasn't going to be mistaken for some of the louder songs of the era. But Whatever still had loads of alt-rock swagger, mostly in Folds' smart, smug lyrics. In that category, "Battle of Who Could Care Less" was a masterpiece. "You think Rockford Files is cool/But there are some things that you would change," he sings over a track mixing '70s pop schlock with grimy '90s rhythm. "So think about your masterpiece/Watch The Rockford Files/Call to see if Paul can score some weed." The 2005 Whatever and Ever Amen is remastered, and features testimonials from bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jesse in addition to Folds' notes. It includes seven B-sides and non-LP tracks, the highlights being a Japanese-language version of "Song for the Dumped" ("You bitch" evidently doesn't translate), "For All the Pretty People," and a cover of the Flaming Lips' classic "She Don't Use Jelly," and features an enjoyable, previously unreleased version of "Video Killed the Radio Star." And now we meet in an abandoned studio; we hear the playback and it seems so long ago. ~ Johnny Loftus
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces Ben Folds Five 3:51
  3. 2 Fair Ben Folds Five 5:54
  4. 3 Brick Ben Folds Five 4:30
  5. 4 Song for the Dumped Ben Folds Five 3:50
  6. 5 Selfless, Cold and Composed Ben Folds Five 6:10
  7. 6 Kate Ben Folds Five 3:14
  8. 7 Smoke Ben Folds Five 4:52
  9. 8 Cigarette Ben Folds Five 1:37
  10. 9 Steven's Last Night in Town Ben Folds Five 3:27
  11. 10 Battle of Who Could Care Less Ben Folds Five 3:15
  12. 11 Missing the War Ben Folds Five 4:17
  13. 12 Evaporated Ben Folds Five 4:25
  14. 13 Video Killed the Radio Star Ben Folds Five 3:39
  15. 14 For All the Pretty People Ben Folds Five 3:21
  16. 15 Mitchell Lane Ben Folds Five 3:40
  17. 16 Theme From Dr. Pyser (Brendan O'Brien Studio Version) Ben Folds Five 3:10
  18. 17 Air Ben Folds Five 3:20
  19. 18 She Don't Use Jelly (Lounge-A-Palooza Version) Ben Folds Five 4:10
  20. 19 Song for the Dumped (Japanese Version) Ben Folds Five 4:59

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