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SxRxnRnR4Life
01-08-2004, 03:58 PM
Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals
Live at the Hollywood Bowl EP

Track list:
1) Brown Eyed Blues
2) With my Own Two Hands
3) Sexual Healing
4) Amen Omen

Only four tracks? You bet. Over 30 minutes of music.

Ben Harper has released half a dozen albums including the critically acclaimed double CD set "Live from Mars." His reggae and folk influenced Jam band style is enhanced by excellent songwriting that includes songs ranging from smoking to environmental awareness to girls. Many times he plays the lap guitar for which he has become famous. His live concerts are legendary and in this latest effort he has employed some of the best sound technicians to capture that on a DVD/EP combo.

It is difficult to introduce the sound of Ben Harper through the medium of type, but if you get a chance to listen to his soul/reggae and blues mix, you won't be sorry.

Brown Eyed Blues is the most folk-rock oriented song on the album. It is only 7:16 in length so there isn't as much soloing as is present in most of his songs. Blues is upbeat and catchy.

Own Two Hands is very reggea. It is a socially conscious piece that speaks of war and how you can change the world with your own two hands. This song sounds like it could have come directly from Jamaica. Running at 8:43, it is the longest song on the album.

Sexual Healing is a cool cover of a Marvin Gaye song. It is the shortest at 6:51 but that is par for the course when doing a cover song. Ben Harper goes all out on the vocals and at times seems to wail. After this display of vocal artistry you think it can't better.

Until Amen Omen. With a very beautiful piano opening followed by the acoustic guitar and drums, it builds and builds and builds to a level that can only be described as spiritual. Excellent use of chord progressions as well. The 7:43 running time leaves you wishing it was longer, but that's as it should be right?

Overall this is a stunning album that deserves to be in the collection of anyone who subscribes to the style of music, and an entry to Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals for those who are not familiar with him. I've never had an EP that stays in my CD player longer than Live at the Hollywood Bowl.

My favorite tracks, if I had to choose, would be Own Two Hands, and Amen Omen.

4 Stars out of 5.

OrbDragon
01-09-2004, 09:10 AM
I like Ben Harper...I've heard all those songs on that record since they are also on Live From Mars and Diamonds On The Inside...it's great stuff.