The Ben Harper Thread
posted at 3/19/2013 1:00 PM EDT
One of my favorite discs of the year so far is the collaboration LP "Get Up!" by Ben Harper & legendary harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite. The grooves, the energy, and the soul are all there in buckets, and while Charlie features very prominently, this is still largely run by the irrepressible, prolific, restless troubadour, Ben Harper.
I first caught on to Harper with The Will To Live LP in 1997, which seemed small but epic, folky but brash [the zep homage - "Faded"]. He is a guitarist of pretty high renown, even earning 'virtuoso' status from a few writers. He can write and play, no doubt; but the heart imbues his best work with elements of gospel and the notion of the blues (and rock) as an inspirational medium and a Marley-esque conscience.
As a personal favorite, I love turning others on to him, but it's a challenge of where to begin. He can switch styles on a dime, inducing musical whiplash, and no one album is representative of the "Ben Harper Sound"...he's worked with various bands and the live stuff - while uniformly great - often reworks songs. And the guy gets around. A lot. And so much is like a great leather jacket that gets better as it gets worn.
Some have called him too preachy. Even as an agnostic, I don't really mind, since music is more of a faith for me anyway. And he's much more of a rocker than assumed. My ideal mix would span his 20-year career to this point and mix a few of the well-known tracks with the album cuts:
Walk Away, Fight For Your Mind, By My Side, Glory & Consequence, Serve Your Soul, Burn One Down, Diamonds On The Inside ["I met a girl / Her name was Truth / She was a horrible liar..."], Better Way, Pleasure & Pain, Number With No Name, Fool For A Lonesome Train, Lay There And Hate Me, Get There From Here, etc., etc. and almost anything from either Live From Mars [see: "Faded/Whole Lotta Love"] or Live From Montreal.
So, we can make this the Ben Harper thread and open up to the forum. What do you think? Yes, No or Meh-be...?