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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Both Sides of Today's Most Talented Artist
Ben Harper truly is today's most talented artist. He is an excellent guitarist as displayed on this two disc set. Harper's latest album is a perfect display of the both sides of Ben Harper. Each side of Ben is represented on a disc of its own. Disc one is the sensitive singer-songwriter while disc two is the political fireball.

"Morning Yearning" opens up...
Published on March 21, 2006 by griphfunk the rock nasty

versus
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars... at times puzzling, at times very entertaining
(I accidentally released my review with a 1 star rating, which it won't let me correct... I meant to give it a qualified 4 star rating)

Ben Harper's music is hard to categorize, but no question, he has brought some very enjoyable albums over the years. This is Ben's 7th studio album and for good measure it's a double album (why so? not sure...)

"Both...
Published on September 22, 2006 by Paul Allaer


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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Both Sides of Today's Most Talented Artist, March 21, 2006
This review is from: Both Sides of the Gun (Audio CD)
Ben Harper truly is today's most talented artist. He is an excellent guitarist as displayed on this two disc set. Harper's latest album is a perfect display of the both sides of Ben Harper. Each side of Ben is represented on a disc of its own. Disc one is the sensitive singer-songwriter while disc two is the political fireball.

"Morning Yearning" opens up the first disc with some simple romance. In this song Ben seems to celebrating the simple joys of family life. Plus you have to love the poetic imagery of the phrase, "Like a summer rose, I'm a victim of the fall but am soon returning."

"Sweet Nothing Serenade," is quite possibly the best of Ben Harper's instrumentals. The tune is one of those songs that you instantly felt like you've heard before.

Of course a collection of Ben Harper slow songs would not be complete without some tales of heartbreak in the tradition of "Walk Away" or "Another Lonely Day." On this album that song is "More Than Sorry."

"Crying Won't Help You Now," is classic bitter break up tune. The back up vocals on the chorus make the song quite pretty.

The suprising thing about this disc is the string arrangements. Not that Ben has never performed with strings but it has rarely been done this well. Many times the string arrangements on songs such as "When She Believes" or "My Beloved One" actually trivialize the song. On this disc they really enhance the emotion of the tunes.

As good as the first disc is its the second disc that really cooks. Opening with the fantasic Indian music influenced "Better Way" the disc is a perfect portrayal of the tension and suspicion of our times. "Better Way" is a classic tune of optimism and change the world philosophy.

The funk quotient is also quite high on this disc with the Hurricane Katrina inspired "Black Rain" and the title track. "Black Rain" is the kind of string driven funk you would expect from seventies soul greats Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye.

"Gather Round the Stone" is a prime example of blues-gospel fusion. Continuing with the blues theme is "The Way You Found Me." The tune has an excellent guitar solo and some nice jazzy piano work.

Closing the album out is for me the highlight. "Serve Your Soul" is an eight minute guitar driven epic. It is a song about maintaining your individuality in spite of societal pressures. This song rocks harder then any of Ben's previous works. Many times when Ben has played hard rock it has a tendency to sound like a parody, but this time Ben has all the weight of Zeppelin and Hendrix with the lyrical consciousness of Bob Marley.

This is sure to be one of if not the best things to released in 2006. Pick it up today and you won't be disappointed. You might also might want to pick up the newest album from Derek Trucks Band. nuff said
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the Ben I know!, April 9, 2006
This review is from: Both Sides of the Gun (Audio CD)
Given that Diamonds on the Inside was an inconsistant album at best and There Will be a Light was essentially a gospel album (though a good one) Both Sides of the Gun is in some sense a return to roots for Harper. This album is also, in my opinion, Harper's most mature album to date. The musicianship and song-writing is consistantly excellent throughout, and is a firm declaration of a musician at the top of his game.

The album, of course, is broken into two discs that capture different moods (the third disc is a "bonus," see below). The first disc, "Morning Yearning" is full of slow and melancholy songs about love and lonliness. Although, a few of the songs on this disc drag a bit (especially if played alone) they all add to the mood, have excellent lyrics, and beautiful instrumentation. Harper sings well on all the songs, but in some ways I can't help comparing him to Bob Dylan, who wrote so many good songs that were sung better by others. Nevertheless, there are some real gems on this disc, including "Morning Yearning," with its wonderful atmosphere and "Cryin' Won't Help You Now," which soars with help from some solid backup vocals.

The second disc, "Better Way," to put it simply, ROCKS! The disk is full of hard rocking, funk tinged and blues inspired numbers that are so consistantly energetic that it's hard not to set this disc on constant repeat. The song, "Better Way" is the most original and addictive song that Harper has crafted in a long time. Several others deserve mention as well. "Black Rain" is a Katrina-inspired protest song that is very well done. "Please Don't Talk About Murder While I'm Eating," is catchy and fun all the while talking about some very serious matters. Lastly, "Serve Your Soul" evokes the true rock and roll trips of yore, and has some of the best guitar work on the album.

The third disc is a collection of accoustic versions of songs from the other two discs, plus a live version of Beloved One. These are nice to have, but they don't add a great deal of value to the of the special edition as a whole. The packaging for the three disc special edition is a bit nicer than the two-disc set alone, so it would make a nice gift. However, unless your set on owning every version of every Harper song out there the special edition set may not be worth your money.

Overall, this is a very fine album and well worth purchasing (even if you only get the two-disc set). It should please old fans and possibly bring in some new ones.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Only Gets Better, March 21, 2006
By 
TC (Illinois) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Both Sides of the Gun (Audio CD)
While I've yet to collect my thoughts enough to write a full review of this wonderful new album, I feel the need to say a few things based on first impressions. I purposely avoided hearing any tracks from" Both Sides of the Gun" until I bought the album because I strongly feel that you cannot judge an album by a song. While I realize that in today's i-pod world this might seem to be an anachronism, it's what I believe. Maybe even more so in the case of Ben Harper. On this album Ben shares with us more sides of his personality and emotions than he ever has on a single album. In his concerts this is what really makes for the wonderful Ben Harper experience, the ability to go from reflective, to sad to balls out anger in the span of a few songs. Ben does that here in many ways. The album is split into two halves, the quiet, almost folk inspired disc and the rocker side. But the conflicting emotions run true on both discs. The quiet side goes from reflection on beauty as in "Morning Yearning" to the wise "Cryin' won't Help You Now". In a similar fashion Ben does the same thing on the more electric rock disc, going from the societal anger of "Black Rain" and "Please Don't Talk About Murder When I'm Eating", to the Stones-like romp of "Engraved Invitation", but even on that song Ben manages to infuse arena rock with his own inestimable soul. Every inch of this album is a glimpse into the man Ben Harper is and the man he wants to be. In other words completely human.

Over my years of enjoying Ben Harper I have tried to put into thought and word what artists he reminds me of, but I often fail because of his unique voice. Yes I've heard people say just the opposite but in my opinion they're not listening. Today after listening to Both Sides Of The Gun I believe that the two artists I can compare him to the most are Bob Marley and Neil Young. The music of these men can span the same emotional spectrum that Ben does and, like Ben, you could never mistake their music for another artist. Beyond that the only artist that you can fairly compare Ben Harper to is Ben Harper himself and who would want it any other way?
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He's Back!, March 22, 2006
This review is from: Both Sides of the Gun (Audio CD)
I have been a fan of ben harper for quite a few years now and was a little dissapointed with his album diamonds on the inside and then i was completely heartbroken when i bought the album that he did with the blind boys of alabama. i was seriously wondering if the hard rocking yet poetic harper of years past had died or sold out somewhere along the way. then yesterday i got up bright and early and rushed out to my local music store and bought this album. i got into my car and put in the first disc, morning yearning starts playing and i hear something, the old familiar voice that i had heard years before and i was elated. well on my drive home i listened to the complete first disc and was very satisfied to believe that ben harper was indeed back to the place where i had heard him before. then i put in the second disc and as soon as better way came on i was blown away. here was the rock and roll type ben that i hadnt heard since the will to live album and i almost had tears in my eyes as i sat down and listened to the whole second disc. i would just like to say that "BEN HARPER IS BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER". every song is different on these two discs like his song the way you found me that sounds kinda like a seedy night club ditty. he also talks about the katrina victims, the price of gas, and our soldiers in iraq. but he does it without preaching or whining about it, its just kinda like a whisper in your ear telling you to realize whats going on. the bottom line is that together these two discs are a perfect 10 and the 3rd (bonus) disc is just icing on the cake.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEN HARPER's Tour De Force, September 9, 2006
By 
Hugo (HOUSTON, TEXAS United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Both Sides of the Gun (Audio CD)
Gifted with an extreme musical and lyrical talent, the ever creative Ben Harper does deserve the Grammy for this entire album, possibly more, in different categories. He triumphs consistently throughout "BOTH SIDES OF THE GUN" on all levels where most other musicians and bands have miserably failed to ignite their creative forces into a memorable full blown album of energized and impressionistic pop-rock-funk'n-country styled tunes. One can't deny the Stones' influence on Harper - no comparisons here though - BEN HARPER IS HIS OWN MAN, and his music sounds much more fertile on this ONE album than their last twenty years' worth of combined offerings. Harper is, as they say, treading deep water here. There are so few recent fairly new artists who are creating compelling diverse and memorable music such as Ben Harper's. His musical influences run all over the map[Whose doesn't these days?], yet, from the very beginning he has accomplished the feat of creating his very own unique identifiable sound within the realm of the current indistiguishable modern musical wasteland. While Ben Harper is uncategorizable as a musician, the originality of his music spans the ever widening and deep scope of the global musical wilderness, with his eclecticsm being his most significant strength. Blending all his influences into his own brand seems to come naturally to him while maintaining the importance of artistic integrety . While he's producing the most impressively compelling and irresistable music, why categorize and pigeonhole a talent such as Harper? Melodically appealing, inspiring, heartfelt, resounding, lyrically penetrating, Ben maintains a most personal and social perspective throughout his expressive vocals on what is his finest collection of recordings to date. The man sings perfectly fine, and one can't imagine anyone else vocalizing on these original compositions - his voice is clearly the proper instrument which creates the utmost profound mood for interpretation of his own wrtings. Those of you who have questioned Harper's insistance for issuing two separate discs here have missed the whole point altogether. If you get the opportunity to see BEN HARPER "live" on PBS' "Austin City Limits" show, don't pass him up - you'll come away from a performance you'll never forget...that is how I discovered this brilliant artist, bought all his Cds and he has never disappointed me. Here in Texas, we natives are very picky about our music, yet, very diverse, and Ben Harper more than satisfies with his gift of music. Overall, "BOTH SIDES OF THE GUN", with its diverse edgy rockers and creamy diamond in the rough ballads, is one hell of a first rate winning album that stands out as Ben Harper's career tour de force.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ben Dylan, March 25, 2006
This review is from: Both Sides of the Gun (Audio CD)
I love Ben Harper. He does what he feels and as Allen Ginsberg once said of Dylan, Ben, is "a single solitary column of air." because he does what he feels NOW. Many artist choke on the red tape record labels leave behind in the trash but Ben contiunues to push for artistic freedom. Ben always seems to be fighting on his albums for something. His sound is definitly not passive. Harper is always changing, fighting, progressing, and his beautiful melodies pierce our ears and his magnificent words make our hearts fat. Ben is so emotional and he feels his music more than anybody I know....and I listen to a lot of music.

Both Sides Of The Gun is just another piece in Bens progression toward what he feels he needs to be doing and saying right now as an artist. If you dont dig the great lyrics and up-tempo beats to the slow calm ballads of this album I think it will all make sence to you some day. Im sure The "White Album" was commercial and boring when the "philistines"(I got this from Squid and the Whale)first heard it, too. Im not saying this what people are saying of Ben but, I would hate to hear the words sell-out or commercial used in the same sentence as ben Harper.

In sum, I just want to say that this album is great and it really solidifies my opinions on Harper. Harper is a true artist and he desrves your money. So, buy this disc...or dont.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Album, April 23, 2006
This review is from: Both Sides of the Gun (Audio CD)
The album is clearly divided into hard songs and soft songs (hence the need for 2 separate discs). The whole album is very multi-dimensional, ranging from ballads to more upbeat, funky music. Some have a very clear stand, like "Black Rain" which is a very political song, and some of the songs seem to be about life in general, but the whole album is very poignant nonetheless.

After listening to the full album, it almost felt like a journey- a mixture of emotions- and Ben Harper was the storyteller.

What I love most about the album is that you can sit down and really listen to his words, and they mean so much, are so fulfilling and worthwhile. Yet at the same time, I could just have the songs on as background music, and the melody and sounds of his guitar is really beautiful.

This album is definitely worth getting, because it's so rare to find songs that are both powerful lyrically as well as musically.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serve Your Soul - Get this Album, March 22, 2006
By 
Benn W. Crawford "Tyro" (Wellington, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Both Sides of the Gun (Audio CD)
I must admit that I became some what of a cynic after Ben Harper's "Diamonds on the Inside" came out. It was too clean and lacked the trade mark explosions of passion that anyone can attest to on attending a live performance. I felt it also diminished one of Harper's greatest achievements - his musical collaboration with the Innocent Criminals. This is where Both Sides of the Gun really shines. This is a truly an eclectic album mixing influences from Dylan, the Stones, Root Blues, Spirituals and beyond. The Innocent Criminals help to transform a great collection of songs to an excellent listening experience. The delivery of the album's diversity is made that much greater by the accomplishments of the musicians. I believe music lovers will appreciate this album even if they're not particular fans of Harper. I really enjoyed Harpers collaboration with the Blind Boys and his continuation with gospel is warmly welcomed (see the live at the Apollo DVD). But it's the blend and measure of other musical genres and creative influences that makes the listening experience standout. Even though we are presented with two albums, both with distinct moods, I felt in was too short (but in a good way). The albums balance one another and it is obvious that Harper has consider the song arrangement, which I might add is overlooked more and more it seems. I think that the standout song is "Picture In A Frame". It didn't jump out at me until the secod listen but now I cannot help but turning it up everytime I listen to it. My prediction is that track will gain the most traction in radio land, though probably outside of the States. The title track "Both Sides of the Gun", "Black Rain" (both of which remind me of Marvin Gaye or Bill Withers' more political songs), "Morning Yearning"(an excellent lead-in for the first album) and "Better Way" are also of note. Actually, I have to put forward that these albums have no outstanding weak or dull moments. Picture in a Ben Harper has again tapped into a motivation which many recording artist have seemed to have forgotten - making quality music. For me Harper's music enthuses me to seek out the roots of the musical forms from which he draws his inspiration from. So gone is the sceptic and returned is the fan who appreciates an artist that has taken his fan on a musical journey where we are witness to refreshing experimentation and creatively, (often) deeply emotional and always true to Harper's conviction to his unique musical direction. Definitely worth adding to your music collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ben's Back, March 23, 2006
This review is from: Both Sides of the Gun (Audio CD)
After hearing this album, I'm pleased to say that Ben is back. His last couple of albums had really disappointed me and I caught myself going all the way back to Welcome to the Cruel World. Songs like "Morning Yearning" and "Crying Won't Help You Now" really sold this album to me.

I'm more of a fan of the mellow and low-key side of ben, compared to his Live at the Appollo type albums, but even I caught myself singing along to songs like "Please Don't Talk About Murder While I'm Eating" and "Better Way."

Excellent cd and I highly recommend it to any true Ben Harper fan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best album since Fight for Your Mind, March 22, 2006
By 
Bic "Andy" (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Both Sides of the Gun (Audio CD)
This is a brilliant album and the best Ben's made in years in my opinion. By the way the track listing here is backwards as it begins with "Better Way" an epic anthem for the times. It's a gift to fans to get 18 songs for 10 bucks especially when they're all this good. Of course I'm a fan of the mellower side and "Mourning Yearning" is my standout favorite but "Engraved Invitation" is his best rock song in a long time and of course there's something for everyone.
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Both Sides of the Gun
Both Sides of the Gun by Ben Harper (Audio CD - 2006)
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