I placed several rules on myself for writing reviews for this series. The first rule was that I listen to both vinyl and compact disc versions. The second rule was that that it be essential to limit the albums with a musician to one. Having found a recent conversation discussing the cult like status of this album, and realizing the vinyl is a stretching one hundred and twenty dollars due to it’s rarity; places this album in a unique synchronization worth dusting off for the public knowledge…

[REVIEW] Ben Folds Fear of Pop Volume 1


This bastard experimentation served as a catalyst to fulfill Ben Folds. He is quoted saying on the quasi-official site for Fear of Pop run by western icon Frank Maynard; “It helped satisfy my need to express some things musically – textures, orchestration, rhythms – things that don’t always naturally fall into the standard three minute singer/song format. I love to paint sounds in an abstract way, discovering their effect after it’s all put together. Once you’ve sold a million records, you’ve earned the right to experiment self-indulgently at the expense of your record company.”

l_PHyrfear-of-pop-ben-folds-fear-of-pop-vol-1-1998-550-musiSo, between the success of Whatever & Ever Amen, and the critical persecution that came of  *The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, came the most liberated opportunity to create music that Ben Folds had ever been able to concoct to that date.

He requests the instrumental talents of a select few studio musicians. John Mark Painter, Fleming McWilliams and Caleb Southern created a world where their mastery of sound brought visualizations of perverse narrative.

[LISTEN] Ben Folds – “Fear of Pop”

The title track is the keynote to defining whether one is fit to perceive the music of Folds. If you are afraid to think while listening to “Pop” music, than you should most certainly be afraid of it.

Very few had experienced cognizance let alone had feared the sad state “Pop” for the latter part of his musical decade. Fear of Pop; having been released in nineteen ninety-eight, had been a reflection of Ben’s industrial observations. I am sure the popularity of boy bands left a foul taste in Ben’s mouth concerning the perception of this form. Please consider The Beatles, Stones, and Motown were the “Pop” standards that cultivated his musicianship. There must have been a healthy level of concern regarding whether the audiences were being dumbed down to the point that there was no room for objective perspective.

[LISTEN] Ben Folds – “Paid My Money”

“Kops” provides a much-needed diabolical energy unlike any Folds song, and still tracks like “ I Paid My Money” were as old as ten years before completely pressed. The humor is scattered throughout Ben singing over an African American choir for the track. He manages to pay homage to his bassist Robert Sledge for “Rubber Sled” while plugging away at the track “Brick” in the song’s introduction. “Avery M. Powers Memorial Highway,” quite honestly is the most angelic sense of coasting I have heard from him; and still very few know it exists.

The Holy Grail of the album, that solidifies that it is a treasure is “In Love.”  I am outing myself here in saying this is my favorite track for the layers of poetry involved. The background is “Oleander holly, Crimson feet of Collie, Beautiful and Lovely, My baby, The only one…Who really understands me, floating hand in hand we, whisper in the moonlight, the things you want to see. Coda and her star child, Goddess of the moonlight, hold me in the morning, and tell me I’m, the only one alive, who really understands you. Tell me pretty stories, say you understand me, my baby, the things you want to see, that I could never be. In love…In love…”

By the way, William Shatner is the primary vocalist on this track. Please, I urge you take entertain his caricatures take on “popular” romance. It will be the summation that paints the complexity of love in the most chauvinistic of forms. A beautifully, comically, dark serenade awaits you.