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coverpic flag US - California - Full Moon 118 - 05/13/06

Ben Harper
Both Sides of the Gun
Virgin Records

If you know Ben Harpers career, it will not surprise you that he makes complex albums. This time he has made a kind of concept double album, one slow and one up tempo. To me it seems like he has tried to make two records of grief and happiness.

The first record starts smooth with lyrics of lost love and so it goes through all nine songs. I miss some development and it can be a bit cold in its expression, and even worse uninteresting, since there are no big difference between the songs of the first record. After a while I feel that this record is more cure for Ben and his former girlfriends, than any help for people in the same lost love situation. To be wrapped up in oneself can sometimes work, especially if you have something to say. What I find really frustrating is that I can't say what's not working, maybe it's the expression in his voice, which usually is his strong side.

The second record is supposed to be a happy event. He has adapted the 70's spirit of joy and happiness, and some things from the 60's as well. Here you get funk (both sides of the gun), rock like Rolling Stones in the 70's, jazz and even blaxploitation. It's a record about every genre Ben likes, and looks more like a compilation than a stand alone record of his career.

This is not the worst record or the best record in his career, I think by time it will be more of a parentheses in his back catalogue.

Copyright © 2006 Geir Fladseth e-mail address

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