Collecting remixes and re-recordings of material from Ben Folds’ trio of 2003-2005 EP releases, as well as a couple of soundtrack songs, side projects and a new song or two, Supersunnyspeedgraphic is both a lot of fun and somewhat baffling. Baffling in that, as often happens with complation/best-of albums, I would’ve picked some completely different songs in places, and a lot of fun in that these aren’t necessarily the same recordings as heard before on those short releases.
In songs like Folds’ cover of The Darkness’ “Get Your Hands Off My Woman”, and the originals “Learn To Live With What You Are” and “There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You”, the new recordings (or the old recordings with new elements) raise the game to a whole new level. Synthetic instrumentation is replaced with the real deal (such as “Learn To Live”‘s lush new string section), and the performances are ramped up considerably (there are vast oceans of difference between Folds’ first cover of “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” and this new one).
Speaking of cover songs, the centerpiece of the whole endeavour has to be Folds’ cover of Dr. Dre’s gansta rap number “Bitches Ain’t Shit”. Taking the whole things right out of its rap context, Folds transforms it into an almost pretty exercise in piano pop whose lyrics (of which not one syllable has been changed from the original) suddenly sound completely absurd. Folds has apparently spent some quality time with cohort and video director Weird Al Yankovic, because this is one of those things that it seems like Weird Al would’ve done. It’s got every profanity in the book in it, but it’s funny enough to merit at least one listen.
“Still” (from Folds’ contributions to the Over The Hedge soundtrack) and “Bruised” (from the all-star collaboration The Bens) appear here as well, rounding things out nicely, but I can’t help but wonder where songs like “Kalamazoo” (from the Super D EP) and “Wandering” are. Without knowing for sure, it could be that the songs Folds reprises here in their new form are songs that he didn’t feel quite “finished” with, whereas near-masterpieces like the above mentioned songs were completed to his satisfaction. I would’ve put these on the tracklist for Supersunnyspeedgraphic long before In Between Days (an energetic cover of the Cure song) or Rent-A-Cop would’ve wound up there, if it had been my choice.
Still, for those who weren’t hardcore enough to invest in the three EP releases from which much of this material comes, Supersunnyspeedgraphic is a nice enough summation of that work, and clears the decks of unfinished business so we can look forward to a completely new album.
- In Between Days (2:54)
- All U Can Eat (3:04)
- Songs Of Love (3:37)
- There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You (4:11)
- Learn To Live With What You Are (4:27)
- Bitches Ain’t Shit (4:10)
- Adelaide (3:12)
- Rent A Cop (5:08)
- Get Your Hands Off My Woman featuring Corn Mo (3:35)
- Bruised (4:34)
- Dog (4:27)
- Still (7:46)
Released by: Sony
Release date: 2006
Total running time: 51:05