Ben Folds’ The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective, the long-awaited career-spanning anthology chronicling the musical adventures of pop’s quintessential post-modern singer-songwriter-pianist, is set for release Tuesday, October 11.
The most comprehensive and definitive Ben Folds collection ever assembled, and first-ever domestic overview of Folds’ music, The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective is remastered from original master tapes, bringing together Ben’s biggest hits, deep catalog fan favorites, hidden treasures, and collectible rarities while premiering the first newly recorded Ben Folds Five tracks in 11 years.
Available as a single disc or in an expanded three disc set, The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective features liner notes and track-by-track song annotations by Ben Folds.
"This is the album I will submit for the next Voyager to be launched into space," says Ben Folds in his liner notes for The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective. "It’s my best shot at an honest assessment of where I was in each period of my career. . . . In the end we tried to put together a collection of the unrepeatable, each recording hopefully representing a moment that was somehow otherwise beyond my ability."
A perfect point of entry for newcomers as well as a treasure trove for the initiated, The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective is a carefully curated 18-track distillation of the essence of two decades of Ben Folds music, from the break-out hits "Underground" and "Brick" with Ben Folds Five through solo work and unexpected collaborations ranging from "You Don’t Know Me" with Regina Spektor to "From Above" (with lyrics by Nick Hornby, author of "High Fidelity"). Pointing to the future, the disc closes with "House," one of three new Ben Folds Five songs recorded especially for the retrospective.
A bonanza for dedicated Ben Folds aficionados, the expanded three disc version of The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective includes a 24-page booklet and two additional discs containing previously unreleased live and studio material, rare solo and BFF demos and studio outtakes, alternate mixes, scorching concert performances and the debut releases of "Tell Me What I Did" and "Stumblin’ Home Winter Blues," a pair of brand new Ben Folds Five tracks, recorded in 2011.
After The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective was assembled from "literally hundreds of recordings," according to Ben, an additional extraordinary fully-realized 55 completed tracks remained. Too many for inclusion on the retrospective and too good to put back on the shelf, the tracks will be available in a special online Ben Folds ’55′ Vault. Fans purchasing the three-disc expanded edition of The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective will be given an individual code redeemable for a bonus 5 song downloadable EP from the Ben Folds ’55′ Vault in addition to access to 50 Ben Folds ultra-rarities available for purchase exclusively on the site.
Along with his first major career retrospective arriving in October, Ben Folds is reprising his role as celebrity judge on "The Sing-Off," the a cappella singing competition series returning for its third season as part of the NBC Fall line-up beginning September 19 (check your local listings). This fall Ben is also producing the upcoming EP from Sara Bareilles, who joins him as a judge on "The Sing-Off" panel this season.