The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
|The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner|
|Studio album by Ben Folds Five|
|Released||April 27, 1999|
|Recorded||November 1998 – January 1999|
|Ben Folds Five chronology|
|Singles from The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner|
Origins of the album title
The title of the album refers to a name used by the band's drummer Darren Jessee and his friends on fake IDs as teenagers. The band was unaware of the existence of the real Reinhold Messner, the first man to climb Mount Everest solo, and the first to do so without the aid of bottled oxygen, until work on the album had already progressed. They were informed of his existence in 1999 during an interview with DJ Bruce Warren of WXPN radio. In the record's liner notes, Messner is thanked for his understanding and cooperation. He later contacted the band to let them know that he was highly pleased with the album.
Originally, "Don't Change Your Plans" was preceded by a long instrumental passage; Folds credits producer Caleb Southern for helping edit down the song to its final product, and told an interviewer that Southern, "just cut it away and then all of a sudden it was this pop song. And then it was like ‘Oh okay. I see what you’re talking about.’ Cause I didn’t hear it like that at all. I just heard it as this little masterpiece thing.” On the Ben Folds iTunes Originals, Folds explains that the song "Mess" is a "loss of innocence song" about having so much baggage that now you are unable to completely explain your history; "you've made a mess."
Folds stated in the iTunes Originals interview about the album: "The 'Reinhold Messner' record was – I think in a way it shows how naïve we were, and idealistic we were as a band to think the music business would care about us extending ourselves and developing and being something different, because that record was a failure – in almost every way that you can fail. As a commercial release, it didn’t sell up to anybody’s expectations; critically, it got sort of lukewarm reviews; and yet, I think that was our best work. I think it’s a great record."
The band recorded the songs "Leather Jacket" (written by Jessee) and "Birds" (an instrumental written by bassist Robert Sledge) during the Reinhold Messner sessions; the songs were not included on the album, but were released as b-sides on the "Army" and "Don't Change Your Plans" singles. "Leather Jacket" would also later appear on the charity compilation No Boundaries: A Benefit for the Kosovar Refugees.
At least two songs, "Break Up at Food Court" and "Carrying Cathy", were recorded during these sessions, but were neither released nor played live by the band. Folds would later re-record "Carrying Cathy" for his debut solo release, Rockin' the Suburbs.
The record was given generally positive reviews, with Allmusic saying that it's the band's willingness "to forge a unique sound that makes The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner such an interesting album to listen to. There is care to these songs and, what's even more significant and fresh, there is also intelligence." Robert Christgau gave the album a B in his Consumer Guide.
All songs written by Ben Folds except as indicated.
- "Narcolepsy" – 5:24
- "Don't Change Your Plans" – 5:11
- "Mess" – 4:03
- "Magic" (Darren Jessee) – 4:02
- "Hospital Song" – 2:05
- "Army" – 3:25
- "Your Redneck Past" – 3:43
- "Your Most Valuable Possession" (Ben Folds/Darren Jessee/Robert Sledge/Dean Folds/Caleb Southern) – 1:55
- "Regrets" – 4:07
- "Jane" – 2:42
- "Lullabye" (Ben Folds/Anna Goodman) – 3:53
- "(Theme From) Dr. Pyser" (bonus track)
- "Birds" (bonus track)
Ben Folds Five
- Ben Folds - vocals, piano and keyboards
- Robert Sledge - electric bass, synthesizer, double bass and background vocals
- Darren Jessee - drums, percussion, timpani, chimes and background vocals
- Antoine Silverman - violin
- Mark Feldman - violin
- Lorenza Ponce - violin
- Jane Scarpantoni - cello
- Ken Mosher - alto saxophone, baritone saxophone
- Tom Maxwell - tenor saxophone
- Paul Shapiro - tenor saxophone
- Frank London - trumpet
- John Mark Painter - flugelhorn, valve trombone
- Dean Folds - answering machine message on "Your Most Valuable Possession"
- Producer: Caleb Southern
- Mixing: Andy Wallace
Album - Billboard (North America)
|1999||The Billboard 200||35|
|Top Internet Albums||3|
Singles - Billboard (North America)
|1999||"Army"||Modern Rock Tracks||17|
- "Ben Folds Five - Truth & Rumors". exit 13. Retrieved 2011-12-26.
- The Suburbs.co.uk: "Did You Just Shit Your Pants? Cause I Sure Did."
- MTV News article: "Ben Folds Five Fields Fan Queries While Working On New Album."
- The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner at AllMusic
- Mark Caro (1999-05-02). "Ben Folds Five The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner (550 Music/Sony)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
- David Browne (1999-05-07). "The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner; Return to the Centre of the Earth Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
- "Ben Folds Five - Unauthorized Biography Of (Reinhold Messner) CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
- "NME Album Reviews - The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner". NME. 1999-04-04. Retrieved 2011-12-26.
- Brent DiCrescenzo (1999-04-27). "Ben Folds Five: The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner Review". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2013-01-16.
- Anthony DeCurtis (1999-05-13). "Ben Folds: The Unauthorized Biography Of Reinhold Messner : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2007-10-26. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
- "CG: Ben Folds Five". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2011-12-26.