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Unauthorized Biography Of Rein

Ben Five Folds Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (238 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 29.95
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Product Details

1. Narcolepsy
2. Don't Change Your Plans
3. Mess
4. Magic
5. Hospital Song
6. Army
7. Your Redneck Past
8. Your Most Valuable Possession
9. Regrets
10. Jane
11. Lullabye

Product Description


Simultaneously challenging and accessible, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner is a song cycle about death and dying, people, relationships, optimism, innocence--you name it. On his first two albums, Ben Folds was quick to toss off bombs of blame (most notably on the vitriolic "Song for the Dumped"), but here he aims most of his criticism at the mirror. On the wondrously snarky "Redneck Past" he sings, "My ex-wives all despise me / try to put it all behind me / but my redneck past is nipping at my heels." Apparently he doesn't have a chip on his piano any more. The production is lush and ornate, with strings and horns embellishing Folds's usual quota of to-die-for hooks (which he seems to dash off as effortlessly as postcards from the beach). An obvious point of reference is Pet Sounds, but Ben Folds Five widen their scope to also include hints of Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, and even Queen, whose influence is front and center on the bombastic opener "Narcolepsy," a virtual homage to "Bohemian Rhapsody." Other highlights include "Army," a hilariously detailed indie-rock answer to Billy Joel's "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant." --David Menconi

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Ben Folds Five album, but.. July 17 2004
By B
Format:Audio CD
..not an ideal place to start for people who are unfamiliar with their music. Start with either the self titled album, or "Whatever and Ever Amen" - both are equally as accessible.
On "The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner", Ben Folds Five shows a vast amount of maturation, both musically (bringing in a multitude of different instruments, and more complex arrangements) and lyrically (the topic of death comes up quite a bit). There are a couple of tracks on here that have that classic, lighthearted BFF feel, but most of it covers new ground. It's kind of a shame that the band split after this (although Ben Folds' solo album, "Rockin the Suburbs", is just as good if not better than this, so it's okay). It is a concept album of sorts, but not nearly as conceptual as something like "The Wall" or "The Final Cut", both by Pink Floyd.
1. Narcolepsy
A BFF classic, right off the bat. It's 5+ minutes, and features a number of different tempo changes. The intro is a long, breathtaking wall of sweeping strings, heavy percussion, and [obviously] piano. The bridge slowly builds up, featuring incredible vocals from Ben..it seems like a perfect ending - but it's not. Another slow building verse in which Ben repeatedly sings "I'm not tired", until the music stops, and a blast of heavily amplified bass hits you like a train for the outro. The soft/loud dynamics are unpredictable, but perfectly timed, and give the song an epic, almost progressive-rock feel.
2. Don't Change Your Plans
And another 5+ minute classic. This one is an absolutely beautiful piece of Burt Bacharach-esque chamber pop, right down to the fluegelhorn laced bridge.
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Format:Audio CD
This is not my favorite BFF album. But it's the best. Reading through the reviews on this page, i have come to notice a sharp difference in opinion on the trio's final offering, mainly centred around the quality of the middle section of the album. It is interesting that 'Regrets' does not seem to be a particularly popular track, when, in my opinion it is a superb outpouring of a confused and disillusioned childhood. When i listen to this track, i feel like i can associate with it entirely.
It would appear that most people can't handle the change between the earlier stuff, and this more acomplished material. More fool them. From the powerful opening of 'Narcolepsy' through the silliness of 'Your Redneck Past' until the beautiful simple melody of 'Lullabye', this album reeks of cleverly written lyrics, and well-rounded musicianship. Anyone who can equally pull off 'Army' and 'Magic' on the same album gets credit from me. But then, I always have liked them.
Incidentally, I saw them on their last tour - touring this album, and it was quite easily the most entertaining live performance i have ever seen. The silliness was weaved in effortlessly with the outstanding music (much like this album) and Ben Folds Five guaranteed their place at the top of my list..
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fustrating... April 23 2004
Format:Audio CD
I've never been so blown away by one part of a record and so let down by another. "Unauthorized Biography" had the potential to be a wholly stunning masterpiece, just based on the first four tracks alone, which seem to set the stage for a sprawling masterwork of loss and regrets. I believe if the band had went with the darker and more turbulent direction of these first tracks, it would've stuck instead of fizzled.
Granted, it's worth picking it up just for the excellence found on these songs. "Narcolepsy" begins with a bombast, an impassioned plea for help from a person whose life seems empty and dead that he needs to sleep constantly (I can definitely relate to this feeling at times). Crescendos of strings, fuzzy bass, and piano figures swirl back and forth as Folds implores "I'm drowning/Save me, wake me up". Truly impressive and it would've been a great centerpiece to form the album around. They carry the theme strongly on "Don't Change Your Plans," a song of sacrifice and love that treads a fine line between resignation and moroseness, with the horns adding just the right understated touch. Next comes the album's other real coup de grace, "Mess," a song for the hopelessly love-lorn if any. Sounding almost classical/Western in feel, Folds relates his musings on the mistakes he's made and that "I want to be for her/What I could never be for you" and declares he's forsaken from both love and God. Powerful as he leads on to "Magic," a plaintive statement on his affections, imposing drums and pensive piano window-dressing his lamentations. So far, so impressively good.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Less energy, still good songs April 17 2004
Format:Audio CD
This album wasn't as great as the first two BFF CDs or any of Folds newer albums, but there are a few great songs on here.
Don't Change Your Plans, Mess, and Magic are my top three favorites. Redneck and Army are OK and funny too. If you've seen Folds live, you've heard the story behind Army. That's why I like BFF and Folds so much. It's like there's a story behind every song, or at least the lyrics are interesting and not the same ole stuff we hear on Clear Channel radio or whatever reigning company owns all the radio stations everywhere.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Brilliance-But not for everyone
This is by far the best ben folds five album ever recorded, to be clear. a lot of the criticism that has been leveled at it has been due to the strange shift in style. Read more
Published on Feb. 21 2004 by Ben Streedson
3.0 out of 5 stars Capsule Review - The Unauthorized Biography...
After a couple of gems, and an increasing popularity, Ben Folds returned with a more subdued yet more slickly produced third album. Read more
Published on Feb. 14 2004 by Jimbobski
2.0 out of 5 stars Wannabees
I bought this, I admit, for the title, only to have it turn out that these guys didn't know Reinhold Messner, but used the name for fake IDs. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2004 by John Lacey
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Album
As soon as I listened to this CD, I loved song after song. It's not everyday you find a CD that's so intricately woven and beautiful. Read more
Published on Jan. 29 2004 by Meg Risso
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected
Recently I purchased "Rockin' the Suburbs," by Ben Folds and I was shocked by the unique quality and consistency of the tracks, absent from so many of the newer artists... Read more
Published on Jan. 25 2004 by VacaChico
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Music weak voice
I bought this cd based on the reviews on amazon.com. I must say that Ben Folds has an ear for melodious songs, it is only a pity that is voice is so shallow and weak. Read more
Published on Dec 1 2003 by John van Maris
5.0 out of 5 stars Whoa.
I listened to this cd on a constant loop from 2 PM to 4 AM the other night. I have since listened to it again at least 4 times. Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2003 by Haley
5.0 out of 5 stars ben folds five
this cd is great ben folds is a genuis and i think everyone should buy this cd its highly recomended no matter what music you like i listin to punk and this is one of my favorite... Read more
Published on Sept. 27 2003 by matt carlson
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest CDs ever. . .
This is easily the finest album that Ben Folds Five ever made. Like many records considered "a Classic," there are few songs that stand alone as being extremely powerful, though... Read more
Published on Sept. 21 2003 by E. Callaway
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