Wednesday, 8 June 2011
REVIEW: BEN HARPER-GIVE TILL IT'S GONE
Harper's still here, giving us everything he's got.
Ben Harper isn't just one of the greatest musical artists of modern-times, he's also one of the most prolific. Right now he's releasing so much material even a die-hard fan would be forgiven for missing the latest cuts from his classic cloth. Yet the man who has made a career out of forming some brilliant bands has crafted the last two years creating two more. Yet even now after the success of his more upbeat 'Relentless7' collective and his sublime supergroup show 'Fistful Of Mercy' (http://ampsand808s.blogspot.com/2010/10/review-fistful-of-mercy-as-i-call-you.html) last fall, the man himself is far from done. So here comes his latest offering 'Give Till It's Gone', his first real, solo set since the distinctly classic 'Both Sides Of The Gun' which might just be his best work to date.
From the artwork to the artists, one-man-band graft on the tracks this is an album of colourful and vibrant numbers ready to paint the Summer's music scene. With a little bit of help from his friends from The Beatles and classic singer-songwriters from his home in America, Ben has brought us a book of songs worthy of an international best-seller. Harper even released this album first in Italy (note the blue and red artwork) weeks prior, and the classic country thanked him with the love of a number 2 position in the charts. This release also coincided with the dropping of the album opener, 'Don't Give Up on Me Now' as a single. This 'grande' track is a new Ben Harper classic. Big, bold and beautiful, the fans will 'bella' it. Harp also blessed his following world-wide with a free download of the sensational single 'Rock N' Roll Is Free'. A classic statement record that is rich with love, protest and the classic elements of anthemic rock and roll.
Another standout single is 'Feel Love', a song debuted live last year that was originally thought to be on a new 'Relentless7' record. Still this perfectly personal record is one of the best songs this rock man with a soul has ever bore and just to think this is the man that's given us 'Morning Yearning', 'When She Believes' and 'Faithfully Remain'. If you thought that was a blessing, the deep cut 'I Will Not Be Broken' is evocative in it's excellence without equal, from it's unyielding spirited lyrics to it's haunting, Jazz-tangent guitar riffs. While 'Clearly Severely' is a crystal-tough number that could have easily found itself on the veterans earlier solo albums just as much as on this disc.
After backing him up with his 'Relentless' energy on a live performance on 'The Daily Show With Jon Stewart' Harper gets into the studio with legendary Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. What results from this pair is the dynamic duo 'Spilling Faith' and 'Get There from Here', two tracks that sound distinctly Ben and distinctly Beatles all at the same time and on the same note, especially the latter. As Ben's strings and Ringo's skins form a marriage over eight minutes, the chemistry is clear from the flawless sound to the fawning around and joking recorded as the collaboration comes to a close. With this hook up (and the featuring of Jackson Browne on the fantastic following 'Pray That Our Love Sees the Dawn') the man that has formed lasting alliances with the groups 'The Innocent Criminals' and 'The Blind Boys Of Alabama' has just lent the ears of two legends to add to his legacy.
Then Harper plays his own hand to close out this set with three-of-a-kind plays worthy of a deal but no shuffle. You'll want to put the wonderful 'Waiting On A Sign' on repeat like you really where playing the waiting game regardless of your horoscope. While the clean-cut 'Dirty Little Lover' is big lyrically and worth lusting over. Still it's the epic closer 'Do It For You, Do It For Us' that is full of big guitar, big lyrics, big singing and big heart. Thank God this big star came back and did it for us.
No matter the work-load, success or personal problems of this artist he won't stop baring his soul in all the heart of his rock and roll redemption and renaissance. Ben Harper has already done enough, but still he's living up to his album title and giving us everything he's got. Even without his band he's still relentless. They don't make singers like him anymore...and the music industry is all the better for it. TIM DAVID HARVEY.