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Welcome to the Cruel World [Import]

Ben HarperAudio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)

Price: $8.40 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Amazon Price New from Used from
Audio CD, Import, 1994 $8.40  
Vinyl, Limited Edition, 2009 $24.99  
Audio Cassette, 1994 --  

Amazon's Ben Harper Store


Image of album by Ben Harper


Image of Ben Harper


Childhood Home


The most affecting albums exist as documents – of a time, place, relationships. Childhood Home by Ben and Ellen Harper is that and more. It is the history of a family written in song by a mother and a son, where they come from, hardships transcended, the place they have arrived.

“This album is a portrait and it's a conversation,” Ben Harper says from the kitchen ... Read more in Amazon's Ben Harper Store

Visit Amazon's Ben Harper Store
for 50 albums, 10 photos, 3 videos, discussions, and more.

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Welcome to the Cruel World + Fight for Your Mind + Diamonds on the Inside
Price for all three: $27.87

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 8, 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Virgin Records Us
  • ASIN: B000000W4U
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,628 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. The Three Of Us
2. Whipping Boy
3. Breakin' Down
4. Dont' Take That Attitude To Your Grave
5. Waiting On An Angel
6. Mama's Got A Girlfriend Now
7. Forever
8. Like A King
9. Pleasure And Pain
10. Walk Away
11. How Many Miles Must We March
12. Welcome To The Cruel World
13. I'll Rise

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Ben Harper sounds good on paper. He's a 24-year-old Californian devoted to vintage acoustic guitars, original political songs and the unusual blend of calypso and Mississippi Delta blues--an inspired blend of David Lindley, Tracy Chapman, and Taj Mahal. Unfortunately, Harper's execution of this original conception on his debut album, "Welcome to the Cruel World," is distinctly underwhelming.

Harper's singing is the biggest problem. He mumbles his vocals with so little articulation and within such a narrow range that he makes Bob Dylan sound like Al Green by comparison. Moreover, Harper's overall performance is so low in energy that he makes the laid-back Cowboy Junkies sound like the Sex Pistols. His songwriting and guitar picking reveals hints of a modest talent, but they aren't nearly special enough to compensate for the narcotic effect of his singing. The heavy-handed Rodney King song, the adaptation of a Maya Angelou poem and the broken-hearted love songs are more likely to recall Chapman's disappointing second album rather than her exhilarating first. --Geoffrey Himes

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Debut From An Underrated Artist December 19, 2001
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
I picked up this album after buying the other three by Ben Harper and greatly enjoying what I found on each of them. I can't believe why I didn't make Welcome to the Cruel World my FIRST Ben Harper purchase! If one had all four of his albums and played them in chronological order, the musical progression could clearly be mapped out from the stripped-down acoustic setting found on his debut to the varied styles and textures contained on his current studio release.
Anyway,Welcome to the Cruel World introduces the listener to the honest, soulful songwriting that has since become a trademark of Harper's craft. Some of the songs are uncompromisingly political (Like A King, How Many Miles Must We March), some are deeply introspective and personal (Pleasure and Pain, Walk Away, the title track), some display a tasteful, mature outlook on love (Waiting On An Angel, Forever) and even some songs showcase a lighter, more playful side (Breakin' Down, Mama's Got a Girlfriend Now).
The musicianship on this album is first-rate. Harper's guitar playing, especially his slide work, is truly inspiring. The backing musicians complement him nicely without overwhelming the feel of the songs. Overall, Welcome to the Cruel World should be the album to get for the uninitiated. For those who only know Ben Harper from his "Faded" and "Steal My Kisses" singles that were occaisonally shown on MTV2 will find him to be one of the best kept musical secrets of the 90's.
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54 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking February 4, 2000
Format:Audio CD
Let me start by mentioning Geoffrey Himes, the Amazon editorial reviewer: how does one so full of his self-importance get to be a reviewer? I thought a review should be an objective look at what is on the CD, but Himes chooses to use the review as a vehicle for his own ego. Go back and have another listen to this CD, Geoffrey; this time without any preconcieved ideas or biases.
What will be heard then is a CD that is moving, thought provoking, inspirational, and brimming with talent. Himes says that Harper has modest talent. If Ben Harper is posessed with modest talent, then that leaves a great many other musicians in the unskilled bracket! I find that Harper's voice is very unusual and with great range (trying singing along Geoffrey!) and his guitar playing is brilliant without being flashy...kind of heart-felt. And the rest of his band make this CD groove on the accompanied tracks.
You must listen to this album. It is breathtaking.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazon reviewers obviously have no clue May 25, 2005
Format:Audio CD
This might not be one of Ben's best albums, but it is still a great album. It is quite surprising that Geoff Himes, the amazon reviewer, gives this album such a poor wrap. His opinion is that Ben Harper's singing brings the album down. Unfortunately for Geoff, he probably hasn't picked up on the fact that Ben's voice is one of the things that distinguishes his music and makes it so unique. Himes is so caught up in making comparisons between Harper and other artists that he fails to evaluate the album for what it really is. A music reviewer should listen to an album for the first time with no preconceived ideas - something Himes obviously has not done, and therefore calls into question his credentials as a music reviewer.
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Geoffrey Himes August 5, 2004
Format:Audio CD
Geoffrey Himes is quite obviously an idiot. There are probably hilarious, idiotic reviews like this one that can be found for almost every great artist/band, whereby a near-sighted, close-minded music hack has decided that the artist/band in question wont make it. Hilarious and idiotic because of how wrong they are.

Great album, man.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank-You Ben! August 9, 2000
Format:Audio CD
My grandfather passed away this last March and I had to fly home for the funeral. I didn't feel like reading a book or talking to the person next to me so I went up and bought a c.d. for the ride home. Ben Harper's "Welcome to the Cruel World" just about had me in tears, but always with a smile on my face. The first track, an instrumental piece, had me running pitcures through my head of my grandfather and I taking walks and just sitting on his porch talking. And track five, "Waiting on an Angel" made me happy just to know that one day I will see him a again. After the funeral tracks like "Pleasure and Pain" and "Welcome to the Cruel World" really spoke to me and I could sense the emotions in them. Now, I know that my review may seem biased and you may wonder if almost six months later I still love it? Very much so! Emotional, raw music does not need a context or a label put on it to stir a human. It just does. Ben Harper just writes good music and with great lyrics that don't leave you scratching your head. He's a Bob Dylan/John Lennon/Nick Drake for the 90's and hopefully for the new century
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
From the opening track, we are instantly made aware of the musical capabilities of Ben Harper. A simple Weissenborn solo, at first listen, later, at more focused attention, one can hear Ben's soul pouring forth through the resonance in the hollow bodied instrument. Throughout the album we are witness to the various emotions and beliefs of this man, all through extremely captivating songwriting and masterful guitar skill. In "Breaking Down" Ben lays down an extremely catchy groove while expressing the confusion so prevalent in heartbreak. Though his voice may seem weak at times, it is through such weakness, that his vulnerability, his humanity shines through. Seen in "Waiting on an Angel", and Walk Away", they are simple ballads that pour forth a heartwrenching amount of emotion in mere 3.5 minutes spurts. Also, "Pleasure and Pain" paints such a gorgeous mental picture, that it is almost impossible to describe such a magnificent piece of songwriting in a pathetic internet review.
Ben Harper is vastly different from the majority of contemporary acts. He writes such personal material, with such heart, a craftmanship so rarely found these days. It is difficult to even compare him to anything in the market these days so I won't. I just pray he will not go down in history as that guy who sang "Steal My Kisses" while opening for the ridiculously overrated Dave Matthews Band.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb album
Bought this several years ago - my introduction to Ben Harper. Love every track and it's one of my favourite albums. Stupefied to read the low rated reviews. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Grizelda Gruntfuttock
3.0 out of 5 stars Very slow album
I love Ben harper, and while this has some great songs, it drags a bit. It isn't one of his more well rounded albums. I listen to this when I need to relax. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jamie
5.0 out of 5 stars Ben Harper's voice is luscious, captivating and heart stirring
Whenever one of his songs comes on Pandora, I stop what I'm doing, pay attention and enjoy it. His tonality, pitch and lyricism is so moving and deep. He sounds folksy and sincere. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Bliss Om
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 Years
Time flies. It's an obvious cliche, but it also an obvious truth. Visited Ben Harper’s Facebook page and website today and was reminded of this fact in a couple of ways. Read more
Published 8 months ago by B. Lockhart
4.0 out of 5 stars What an artist
Ben Harper is amazing. His lyrics are sometimes empowering, sometimes pensive, and always good. I love him, and this 1994 album is one of my favorite albums of his.
Published 8 months ago by Eleyna Lamparter
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth the price
I only paid $5 for this album - it was worth that, not much more. I prefer Ben Harper's later material.
Published 10 months ago by P. Whitted
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible!
This is probably my favorite of BH's albums. Authentic and talented- his soul shines through on this one! The entire album flows perfectly from start to finish, too.
Published 16 months ago by LindsayCO
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite albums.
I'm not sure if Mr. Himes (amazon's posted reviewer) knows much about music or not, but I believe his review is way off base. Read more
Published on September 24, 2012 by Mikey
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple Beauty
I knew Ben Harper only by name for a long time. I had heard a couple of tunes over the years, but I popped this in when I was driving home on a wet autumn morning and I was... Read more
Published on November 11, 2011 by valis
2.0 out of 5 stars Brotherslicko
Well, I have heard about Ben Harper off and on, for acouple years. I finally bought this CD. I must say, I do not find myself drawn to it. I don't have a need to listen to it. Read more
Published on October 9, 2011 by K. A. Wagner
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