From the sounds of their self-titled debut in 1995, it was clear Ben Folds Five was going to more than a flash in the pan alt rock band. At the time a guitar-less trio with singer Ben Folds more than making up for the void with his piano, the group sounded both comfortably familiar (everything from Elton John to The Beatles) and shockingly original over the span of just a dozen songs.
It’s fitting then, 16 years later that Folds, now a solo artist, is being celebrated with a three disc retrospective. The Best Imitation of Myself includes a disc of 18 best of’s (a tough job going through seven studio album ranging from good to classic and culling the songs down to just 18); a disc of live tracks and a third of 22 rarities (including a handful that have never been released before).
Folds’ style has thankfully changed little from that first album, still leaning more towards story teller than traditional pop lightweight. His collaborations though have gotten more interesting over the years included a recent album of songs written by author Nick Hornby (About a Boy) and new collaborations with Amanda Palmer, Damian Kulash, and Neil Gaiman. Folds, aside from being an amazingly talented musician and songwriter has somehow managed to even make A cappella cool with an instrument-less album and now as a judge on the A cappella show Sing Off.
With every band now automatically getting a greatest hits package after simply staying together for more than two albums, it’s nice to see someone who has actually earned the retrospective treatment get their due.
Ben Folds – The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective/3 CDs/Epic and Legacy/2011