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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective'
Artist - Ben Folds

Benjamin Scott "Ben" Folds is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and television personality ('The Sing-Off'). A man of many hats, from 1995-2000, Folds was the frontman and pianist of the alternative rock band Ben Folds Five. But, since the group disbanded, Folds has performed as a solo artist and has toured all over the world.

Having collaborated with musicians from so many genres, from so many continents, now he has sat down and brought us a 3-disc retrospective - one culled together by Folds, and Folds alone ... which is refreshing.

Disc One (aka the entire album if you're just buying the standard set) is a "best of" rather than a "greatest hits," which explains why fan favorites like 'Army' didn't make the cut. The album doesn't suffer from this at all, as it allows the disc to represent Ben's finest work as opposed to his most well known. Not to worry though, as all the "hits" missing here are represented in some shape or form on Discs 2 and 3!

Disc Two is a live disc. The songs and performances are all good choices to be included here, as they capture Ben Folds (Five) at his (their) most energetic,interesting, and most quirky. Lots of good stuff to listen to here.

Disc Three is a disc of rarities, most of which haven't seen the light of day until now. Here you'll find alternate versions of songs, demos, unreleased material, and rare tracks. It's hard to review a disc of material that essentially wasn't meant to be released. A casual fan will probably find this disc unsatisfying, while a veteran fan (such as myself) will find themselves listening for hours and marveling at these recordings.

Demos and unreleased songs reveal aspects of the creative process from the artist that can only truly be appreciated by knowledgeable fans. Die-hards, this disc is for you, and boy does it satisfy. New fans, listen to the first two discs, digest the material, and come back to this later when you're ready. [DR]