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Rock - Released January 1, 1995 | Virgin Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Fight for Your Mind fully embraces Ben Harper's influences (Dylan, Marley, Havens, and Hendrix) into a complete sound while simultaneously broadening his thematic and musical palette. Oliver Charles' tactile drumming and Leon Mobley's percussion work give a sparkle to Harper's music that was absent on his debut. Songs like "Gold to Me" and "Excuse Me Mr." show Harper growing as a poet, approaching ideas via more subtle avenues. The single "Ground on Down" and epic jam "God Fearing Man" capture some of the explosive energy of his live performances. The latter makes allusions to "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," and that's exactly what Harper does -- allows his trademark Weissenborn guitar to scream out to his audience. The only misstep on this album is his sophomoric weed anthem "Burn One Down," but one might argue that a little tarnish adds character. © Ryan Randall Goble /TiVo
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Rock - Released February 1, 1994 | Virgin Catalog (V81)

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Rock - Released July 1, 1995 | Virgin Catalog (V81)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2003 | Virgin Catalog (V81)

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Rock - Released January 1, 1997 | Virgin Catalog (V81)

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Blues - Released March 30, 2018 | Anti - Epitaph

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Rock - Released March 1, 2006 | Virgin Records

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Folk/Americana - Released May 6, 2014 | Prestige Folklore

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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | Virgin Records

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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Virgin Records

Ben Harper is a musical preacher of sorts, never one to be shy in speaking his mind about social conformity. If his first two albums -- Welcome to the Cruel World and Fight for Your Mind -- didn't clue you in, Diamonds on the Inside will definitely do so. Diamonds on the Inside marks Harper's fifth studio effort and this time he's emotionally in touch with what makes his heart burst. This is a passionate album, no doubt. His signature Weissenborn guitar joins him once more and Harper's classic groovy funk is heavy; however, Harper adds worldbeat to his musical plank. From the Marley-esque vibe of "With My Own Two Hands" to the African soundscapes of Ladysmith Black Mambazo on "Picture of Jesus," Harper's purist presentation is smooth. "When It's Good" gives a little country blues twang, while "Touch From You Lust" is a sexy haze of writhing riffs. "Temporary Remedy" follows the funk Lenny Kravitz-style, and Harper's a bit campy. It's a noticeable change from his typically serious stature and a nice shift in personality, too. Diamonds on the Inside is another stunning effort from one of rock's underground heroes. Harper has consistently worked with what appeals to him musically for nearly a decade, ignoring what fits the mainstream. Diamonds on the Inside is Harper's sixth chapter of truth and just one listen to the electric blaze of "Everything" will convince you. © MacKenzie Wilson /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2006 | Virgin Records

Booklet
After seven albums and 12 years in the game, it can stop being said that Ben Harper is hard to categorize, because at this point, the fact that he always incorporates diverse elements -- from folk to hard rock to funk -- into his music and makes something very much his own is a given. He's practically created a genre. So maybe that's why it's so surprising that Both Sides of the Gun, a two-disc album, has little of that very thing that makes him so unique. Instead, he chooses to show off the range of his musical interests, and ends up with something closer to a compilation than a Ben Harper album. The softer, acoustically based disc is full of pretty love songs and sweetly strummed guitars, and though Harper has done this before and kept his own style intact (in "Two Hands of a Prayer" and "When She Believes," for example), here he comes off sounding a bit boring. He hasn't forgotten himself completely: both "Never Leave Lonely Alone" and "Crying Won't Help You Now" are good songs, sounding strongly of him while also experimenting with other styles (Latin/French and gospel, respectively), but almost all the other tracks could have been pulled off any run-of-the-mill singer/songwriter album from the past ten years. Things improve slightly on the other, louder, disc ("Please Don't Talk About Murder While I'm Eating" is all electric blues, complete with a distorted slide guitar solo, and "Serve Your Soul" is the most Harper-ish of everything, blending folk guitar, pure rock, raw blues, and socially conscious lyrics into one eight-minute masterpiece), but there's still that sampler-record feeling there. "Engraved Invitation" and "Get It Like You Like It" are heavily influenced by the Rolling Stones, "Both Sides of the Gun" alludes to Curtis Mayfield and James Brown, and "Better Way" is practically a tribute (at least musically) to Prince's "7." Harper has always borrowed from other artists, but he's also always added enough of himself to make it not quite so...blatant. It's not that he isn't able to perform such a diverse selection: there are plenty of excellent cuts and most of the album is quite good. Harper is a fantastically talented musician, and he has really developed his voice since Diamonds on the Inside and is unafraid to do things with it, going from a croon to a scream and always sounding great. But why he's copying other people's styles instead of building on his own is both odd and disappointing, because he's always been able to experiment before while also preserving his individuality. If in Both Sides of the Gun Harper is trying to show his audience what a wide variety of music he can cover, he certainly accomplishes that. But if he's trying to create an album that is really about him, he doesn't quite deliver. Ben Harper is in there, don't worry, but he can be a little hard to find. © Marisa Brown /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Virgin Records

Ben Harper's history with the Blind Boys of Alabama has been an evolving one that has moved from being a guest on their Higher Ground offering and touring with them in Europe, to the Blind Boys joining Ben and the Innocent Criminals on-stage at the front and back of their show. This album began as a series of rehearsals for collaboration on a Blind Boys of Alabama record. Recorded in two sessions, the vibe in the room was loose and creative enough that the two acts ended up with an album of material for a joint release. This is "collaboration" in the truest sense of the word. It's not just Ben playing gospel, or the Blind Boys of Alabama singing on a Ben Harper record. These ten tunes -- with seven Harper originals written specifically for the sessions, the rest traditional gospel tunes and covers -- showcase Harper and the Innocent Criminals alongside the Blind Boys of Alabama. The album kicks off with Harper's "Take My Hand," a funky gospel tune that showcases a Fender Rhodes and Harper's wah-wah pedal underscored by the call and response of the Blind Boys repeating the title after each sung line of the verse, before Clarence Fountain takes it out. "Wicked Man" is a Southern soul tune that has a Muscle Shoals groove and a beautiful vocal weave on the refrain. "Church House Steps" is pure gospel groove with a Hammond B3 and a smoking duet between the Blind Boys' layered harmonies and Harper on the verses with full-on blues feel in his singing and playing. There's a killer cover of the Bob Dylan/Danny O'Keefe tune, "Well, Well, Well," with Delta blues bottleneck shimmering through the intertwined vocal lines. The deep, nocturnal sparseness of "Satisfied Mind" is a complete re-reading of the nugget with a swampy backbeat. And this album works beautifully. Nothing sounds forced, all of it loose and comfortable and the vocal performances on both sides are simply stellar. Highly recommended. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Virgin Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Stax

This musical hookup between these two experienced roots artists who have more in common than it seems at first glance, is a natural evolution for both. Ben Harper seemed like an old soul, even when he began his career, dipping into classic R&B, gospel, and blues but spinning them through his dark, folk-funk persona. His work with the Blind Boys of Alabama showed him to be welcomed by veteran artists who clearly felt he was a kindred spirit. Harpist/guitarist Charlie Musselwhite's extensive résumé typically moved him past the often limiting structure of the Chicago blues where he first made his presence felt, to Tex-Mex, Cuban, Americana, swamp rock, country, and even jazz. The two connected on a 1997 John Lee Hooker session and have worked together intermittently since, both live and in the studio. This outing, tellingly released on the Concord/Stax imprint, strips the sound down, occasionally to just acoustic guitar and harp as on the opening of "Don't Think Twice," and the closing deep Delta blues "All That Matters Now," reworked into "It Hurts Me Too." But the duo also plug in for tough, rugged blues and blues-rock as on the heart thumping "I'm in I'm Out and I'm Gone," a twist on David Bowie's "The Jene Genie" riff that itself was nabbed from the Chicago blues catalog. Even with Musselwhite's substantial involvement, this is Harper's show as he produces, sings every song, and seems to be leading the music's direction with the harmonica player urging him on and adding to the already deep groove. They dip into harder rocking territory for the charging "I Don't Believe a Word You Say" with Musselwhite pulling out his Little Walter influences with electrified blowing. The skeletal, ghostly, repeated riff of the deadly gunslinger "I Ride at Dawn" is a stark reminder of how less is more as Harper's slide enhances the dangerous elements reflected in the song's ominous lyrics. The six-minute title track -- the disc's longest cut -- is classic Harper, marrying a funky bassline with the declaration expressed in the song's title as Musselwhite takes a few licks from Paul Butterfield to edge the track into a laid-back red zone where the singer typically thrives. But the twosome have some fun, too, in particular on the spirited, easygoing, sexed-up blues "She Got Kick," one of the few instances where harmonica is not an integral component of the mix. Ultimately, Get Up! earns its titular exclamation point as a successful combination of two talented veterans feeding off each other's dusky, creative spirit. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2008 | Virgin Records

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Folk/Americana - Released July 21, 2020 | Anti - Epitaph

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Rock - Released January 1, 2009 | Virgin Records

Originally issued in 1999 as a bonus disc included with some editions of BURN TO SHINE, the deceptively named ALONE EP doesn’t primarily feature lauded alt-rock artist Ben Harper performing solo. Instead, ALONE presents Harper in concert with his Innocent Criminals ensemble, running through a number of tunes from that era in his career, including the slinky title track and the bright, breezy “Steal My Kisses.” The most notable number on the release, however, is Harper’s spare version of Led Zeppelin’s bluesy “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” a tune that showcases his renowned slide-guitar playing to stirring effect. While ALONE isn’t essential Harper, it’s a fine live document that will easily please his diehard fans. © TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1997 | Virgin Records

On his third album, Will to Live, Ben Harper strengthens his populist folk with a grittier groove, which even borders on funk, that makes his music more immediate. Harper still has a tendency to preach, yet his melodies are catchier than before, and he has a better sense of rhythm, helping his bluesy songs catch hold. © Leo Stanley /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 6, 2014 | Prestige Folklore

Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Ben Harper began his career with the solo acoustic debut Welcome to the Cruel World. Childhood Home takes Harper back to his roots -- literally: he recorded it in collaboration with his mother, Ellen Harper. There isn't an electric instrument on this ten-song set, which features six new tunes by him and four by her. There are a trio of other players who help out on piano, guitar, and upright bass. Ellen's parents (both musicians) founded the Folk Music Center and Museum in Claremont, California, over 50 years ago; she still works there. As a single mom she worked while Harper played around with various instruments. The music here centers on songs of home and the myriad experiences that revolve around it, some of them quite painful. Ben's country-folk song "A House Is a Home" (which recalls the melody of "Love Is a Rose") looks at the hearth as the centerpiece of personal history. Ellen's "City of Dreams" reflects on the city where she grew up that has disappeared; the victim of suburban sprawl. Ben's "Born to Love You" is a waltz sung as a duet, accompanied by quietly shuffling drums and piano. Here, "home" is the beloved: I love you/I live you…." On her "Farmer's Daughter," a minor-key country-blues, Ellen plays banjo and Ben lays out Weissenborn slide and flatpicked acoustic fills. Their layered backing vocals are haunting. Her "Altar of Love" is a country-gospel waltz. Its poetry is simple, direct, yet expert; she distills the heart-wrenching experience of marrying, motherhood, and sacrifice in a fable that contains a tragic circular twist of fate. Her deeply moving "Break Your Heart," with its subtle R&B tinge, is the finest song here. Ben's "Memories of Gold" reveals the growth in his own writing. Here, country, soul, and folk-blues all commingle in a cut-time waltz. His world-weary vocals offer wisdom gained through lived experience. The ghostly, holistic gospel in his closer, "How Could We Not Believe," is a hymn of beauty and resolve, with the pair's voices blending perfectly amid strummed autoharp, dulcimer, and guitars. Childhood Home is, in essence, timeless. It brims with quiet conviction about the blood and spiritual ties that bind, an indestructible place in the heart, and offers proof that folk music can indeed be "soul" music. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Virgin Records

The problem with many retrospectives is that they usually place an artist's best-known and/or best-selling songs in a sequence that can defy context. The end result can be a rather jagged listening experience. Ben Harper's By My Side seems to address that issue by looking at it directly. Instead of simply letting his label choose a slew of tracks and call it a "hits" or "best-of" collection, Harper handpicked a dozen cuts, and focused on a particular aspect of his work: ballads. In addition to ten standard-bearers from his catalog, he also chose an alternate studio version of "Not Fire Not Ice," which sounds like a nicely recorded demo (and was never available in the United States before), and provided a single new cut, a sparse, sexy, soulful number called "Crazy Amazing" with his Relentless7 bandmates. The remaining tracks are canny choices: the vast majority of them would be the very cuts his fans would choose for such a collection. They span his entire career beginning with "Forever," from Welcome to the Cruel World. Also included from that recording is "Waiting on an Angel" near the end of this set. The two tracks chosen from Fight for Your Mind are the title track, of course, and "Gold to Me." The title track to Diamonds on the Inside is also here. Among the other selections are "Morning Yearning" from Lifeline (with the Innocent Criminals), "Beloved One" from Burn to Shine, and "Happy Everafter in Your Eyes" from Both Sides of the Gun. Taking in Harper's ballads without the rockist guitar pyrotechnics is solid not only in conception but in execution. While there's no doubt that fans have most of these tracks already, listening to By My Side's presentation of them as a resonant sampling of a particular area in the larger context of his work adds both depth and dimension to Harper's reputation, not only as a songwriter but as a singer as well. © Thom Jurek /TiVo