In an effort to spread the word about our little podcast, we have been letting people know which bands and albums we’d be covering for the next edition at least a month or so ahead of time. And of the three PTMs we’ve done so far, this one seems to have built up the most anticipation. Funny that, since the album that inspired it — The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner — landed with such a resounding commercial thud when Ben Folds Five released it in April 1999. Perhaps luck has it that the album’s ardent supporters, and they are out there, happen to also be Popdose fans.
That’s for the best because our intrepid hosts, Chris Holmes and Dw. Dunphy, have plenty to say on the record. They both declare it not only to be their favorite of the Five’s four studio albums, but they even share the same favorite song in common. Small world, this internet place.
In retrospect it’s easy to see why the public didn’t take to Messner the way they did its predecessor, Whatever and Ever Amen. Outside of the bouncy rock single “Army,” there isn’t a whole lot of that trademark Ben Folds cheery punk pop to hang your hat on. There are a few other fun tracks, mind you, but this was the band’s great mature leap forward.
Unfortunately, history tells us that the next leap the trio of Ben Folds, Daren Jessee, and Robert Sledge took was off a cliff. About a year-and-a-half after the album’s release, Ben Folds Five called it quits and it wasn’t until last year that fans finally got to hear what a followup album would sound like. But that’s for another podcast, perhaps several years down the road.
As mentioned in the show, here are some of the songs from the Reinhold Messner sessions that didn’t make the album — “Leather Jacket” and “Birds,” as well as the fantastic “Air.” (These will be taken down at some point.) And here’s the first page of sheet music from Darren Jessee’s “Magic.”
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