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Ben Harper - Both Sides Of The Gun

  by Adrian Huggins

published: 16 / 4 / 2006

Ben Harper - Both Sides Of The Gun
Label: Select Label
Format: CD


Passionate socio-political mixture of folk, rock, reggae and hip-hop on new 2 CD album from the widely acclaimed Ben Harper

'Both Sides of the Gun' is the highly anticipated tenth album by American singer-songwriter Ben Harper, (not to be confused with actor Robert Lindsay's latest character in 'My Family'). At the moment he not hugely known in Great Britain. Harper has, however, built up fans all over the rest of the world while releasing few singles, and had done it the old-fashioned way of releasing one great album after another and then touring. This guy does not need much press, as he really can just sell himself. It would be great, however to see such a singer with his talent, passion and socio-political sense get far more recognition. The world would be a much better place if there were more people like Ben Harper in it. He is one of those artists who are great and awful to write about, as you cannot pigeonhole him. He plays folk, rock, reggae and hip-hop music, all of which are thrown on to this latest record. A fine place, (other than this album of course), to get an idea of what Harper is about, is to check out his live album 'Live from Mars'. On this album he plays covers of Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love', Marvin Gaye’s 'Sexual Healing' and the Verve’s 'The Drugs Don’t Work'. Now if that’s not an eclectic bunch of songs and artists and songs to cover in one show then I don’t know what is. 'Both Sides of the Gun' is according to Harper the album that all his previous efforts have been leading up to. The album spans over two 9-song discs, but is not considered a double album by the artist. Harper felt that the songs didn’t all fit on one record, but more in two halves of a record. The first CD starts off with the beautifully mellow, yet slightly sorrowful 'Morning Yearning'. This initial first half of the album has a relaxed more acoustic feel to it as opposed to the second half, which is far more “plugged in”. It is filled with string laden, acoustic softly sung tracks like 'Happy Ever After in Your Eyes', 'Sweet Nothing Serenade' and 'Waiting for You'. These songs really bring out Harper’s gentler side, while the second CD shows his more upbeat and politically scathing side. In form this is quite different from his other albums, upon which both have been tended to mix both together. While the first disc will have you sipping wine in your living room and drifting off gently, the second disc will make you down the bottle of wine, dance around your living room and then throw the bottle at the nearest governmental building in anarchic rage. Many of the songs and themes of this album, in particular on the second disc, were influenced by Ben Harper’s thoughts and feelings about post-Hurricane Katrina America. As far as contemporary musicians in America, Harper is at the forefront of the socially and politically aware, having played for and contributed to many charitable and awareness raising events during his career. The second half of 'Both Sides…' sees him doing his best version of this. Rather than just having straight up rock songs that sound angry he opts for tracks that have an incredibly catchy and funky bluesy sound. The main focus for this is 'Black Rain' upon which he talks directly to the American politicians about all the mistakes that they made with the evacuation of New Orleans. It sounds, however, like it could have come straight out of 1967 and the Civil Rights movement era. It is a really soulful song, which could as easily be grooved along to as well as stirring up a riot. Other songs just deepen the eclectic feel of this album furthermore with 'Serve Your Soul' dislaying Harper’s “rockier” side in full force and the fantastic 'The Way You Found Me' which sounds every bit like it could be a song by blues legends Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf. This really could be Ben Harper’s most complete album as the songs all fit together so well. The fact that it comes in two halves really works well as there is a different vibe to each, yet each side does not feel like two separate albums. Viva La Revoluccion.

Track Listing:-
1 Morning Yearning
2 Waiting For You
3 Picture In A Frame
4 Never Leave Lonely Alone
5 Sweet Nothing Serenade
6 Reason To Mourn
7 More Than Sorry
8 Cryin' Won't Help You Now
9 Happy Everafter In Your Eyes
10 Digital Booklet: Both Sides Of The Gun
11 Better Way (War Mix)
12 Both Sides Of The Gun
13 Engraved Invitation
14 Black Rain
15 Gather 'Round The Stone
16 Please Don't Talk About Murder While I'm Eating
17 Get It Like You Like It
18 The Way You Found Me
19 Serve Your Soul

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