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Ben - Ben CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.27 | 32 ratings

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3 stars 3.5 Really.

I toyed with a 4.0 ratiing but to be honest, I'd be arrogant if I actually believed others would buy this album because I gave it a 4.0 instead of a 3.5, etc... Ratings just a frame of reference.

Number rating aside, this is a very interesting and long time coming review (as I've been meaning to do this for years as I had this album for years) that I finally forced myself to do so I can have closure :-)

Before progarchives in the 1990's, there was a primary web-site of prog reviews by a person whom I respect. So much so that I would spent countless times reading and re-reading his reviews of many albums while I was in my prog-addiction (buying almost anything I could afford that was 70's prog). I agreed with about 90% of his reviews as he tended to rate the ambient prog (ie, Klaus Schulze, etc..) very high and those types of albums were not my cup of tea as I preferred more the symphonic and the jazz/canterbury.

One such album he reviewed had the comment he made which indicated it was perhaps the worst release on the Vertigo Swirl Label. The album he was referring to was this one by Ben. I don't know where they got the name but I have to wonder if it was after the movie Ben/Williard (ie, about the rats) that came out around/about the same time.

His review was not kind to this album and felt the band was "duping" the audience into believing they were hearing something that was well-crafted/meaninful with lots and lots of ideas when in-fact it was a hodge-podge of just a few incomplete ideas that fool you into thinking you're hearing something complex and meaningful. Hints that the music meanders and rambles aimlessly into several areas with no meaning.

Having said that, I bought this album years ago and found listening to it quite enjoyable. Pleasant and relaxing at times, challenging at other times. The music is all instrumental and belongs firmly in the Soft Machine/Canterbury school of Jazz/Prog. Nice saxophone solos, guitar solos, keyboards. The opening 20 seconds of the bass guitar riff on the first song catches my attention right away and I'm basically thinking "Soft machine - Seven". When the sax parts come in, I'm thinking Elton Dean ala "Soft Machine - Five", etc...

To me this music sounds timeless. It may have been 1971 but it sounds no different from a professional 4-5 piece jazz rock band that may be playing today at an opera/stage house in town.

This album hinges more on the instrument canterbury jazz side of things and not the symphonic rock side of things.

If you enjoy listening to the likes of Soft Machine 5 thru Rubber Riffs (including some of the guitar work you hear on those albums) and are hoping for a "good" album in that same vein rather than expecting a "monster classic", then I can't really see any reason why you would not like this album.

As per the original negative thumbs down review of this album at the other source, we all definitely are entitled to our own opinions and I totally respect and honor that. I can say the gentleman who writes those reviews is not a big of Soft Machine type-jazz ala their "Five" thru "Rubber Riffs" period and he is not a fan of jazz-fusion either. Although there's no fusion-elements on this album (nothing at all like Mahavishnu or Chick Corea, etc..), it's still in a particular genre that the reviewer does not like. So I can understand his bias against this album and I honor that .

But for anyone who likes jazz/prog and Soft Machine's "Five thru Rubber Riffs (or even Land of Cockayne(which I really like too) and has heard bad things about this album which scares you into checking it out, I can say with honesty that I paid $20 for this album several years ago and I have never regretted it. Each time I pop it in, I'm taken back to 1971 to some underground jazz/canterbury club listening to a band that was every bit as talented to what I hear on Soft Machine "Five" thru "Rubber Riffs". Most particular if I had to compare this to a specific album, I'd say "Soft Machine -Seven".

Nice album this Ben is. Wish they would have done more. A nice 3.5 stars.

progbaby | 3/5 |


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