Ben Folds Five Whatever And Ever Amen on 180g LP from ORG Music
Out of Press for Over 15 Years!
Ironic, heartfelt, melancholy, hopeful, and altogether unique: All these traits and more shine through the Chapel Hill, NC-based band's second album and 550 Music label debut, Whatever and Ever Amen. In these twelve songs, Ben Folds Five reveals the maturity and insight earned through more than two years of steady touring - without sacrificing the rough-and-ready energy which has always propelled their piano-based brand of rock and roll.
Whatever and Ever Amen was recorded in September-October, 1996 in the Chapel Hill house of pianist/vocalist Ben Folds - which was outfitted for the occasion with 16-track recording equipment, a Steinway baby grand piano, and extensive soundproofing. Ben's dad was overseeing the construction even as recording progressed. "We would just set up in the living room and play, with workers coming and going," Ben recalls. "That really took any 'professional' edge off and left us free to just make music." Keeping things within the BFF's musical family, the album was produced by Caleb Southern, with whom the band worked on its self-titled 1995 debut. It was then mixed in New York by Andy Wallace, whose credits include Rage Against The Machine, Jeff Buckley, and Nirvana.
Ben Folds Five (released on Caroline Records) was the disc which introduced the guitar-less lineup of Ben Folds (lead vocals, piano), Darren Jessee drums), and Robert Sledge (bass) to the guitar-crazed world of alternative rock. That instrumentation, combined with Folds' highly personal and immensely catchy songs, insured the band would stand out from the crowd. When they first came together in 1993, Ben recalls, "We all agreed the songs would rock much better without guitars, so we just went with it."
In composing the songs for Whatever and Ever Amen, Folds explained, "I tried to be a lot less self-conscious. If I felt pensive or sad I could just express that, where before I might try to veil it in one way or another." John Mark Painter's string arrangements on "Evaporated" and "Selfless, Cold And Composed" and the concise, skillful playing of Darren and Robert lend these songs, in particular, a serene sadness which this band could never have achieved two years prior. In contrast, "Steven's Last Night In Town" is a satirical rocker flavored with the Eastern European tonalities of the Klezmatics and a bridge section straight out of the big-band Swing Era.
"There are reminders throughout this record that we're not playing it safe," adds Folds with a touch of justifiable pride. "We didn't want to pin ourselves down to one sound, or to be as predictable or consistent as the first album. And it all started with not hiring a big-name producer, a fancy studio, and a lot of expensive equipment." Whatever and Ever Amen plays like a rock and roll opera, replete with satire, back stories, and a diverse range of characters and emotions. "I have a real English way of approaching songs, a straightforwardness and honesty that, for the first time, has gone unedited with this album," Folds notes. "I mean, we're all moody people - that's just part of life - but this time I really let that show in the music."
What the music reveals, finally, is a band allowing itself to evolve organically through impeccable song-writing and superior musicianship. Today, Ben Folds Five sits in the only interesting place left in rock and roll: smack-dab in the center of contradiction. Folds thinks that, "the songs on Whatever and Ever Amen are a good representation of life, in all its absurdities, greatness, and just plain weirdness. We're right where we want to be."
• Remastered & pressed on heavyweight 180 gram vinyl
• Features classic Ben Folds Five tracks “Brick,” “Kate” & “Song For The Dumped”
• Includes original jacket & label artwork - true to the initial pressing
• Previously out of press on vinyl for over 15 years
Ben Folds Five Whatever And Ever Amen Track Listing:
1. One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces
4. Song For The Dumped
5. Selfless, Cold And Composed
9. Stevens Last Night In Town
10. Battle Of Who Could Care Less
11. Missing The War