The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
is the fourth and final studio album
by Ben Folds Five
, released April 27
The band reunited to play the album in its entirety in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on September 18, 2008. The show was streamed live online as a part of MySpace's Front to Back series, with a repeat airing to occur sometime in October.
Origins of the album title
The title of the album refers to a name that the band's drummer Darren Jessee
used on fake IDs
as a teenager
. The band was unaware of the existence of the real Reinhold Messner
, the first man to climb Mount Everest
without the aid of an oxygen tank
, until work on the album had already progressed — the band was informed of the mountainclimber's existence on February 9
during an interview with DJ
Bruce Warren of WXPN
radio. He is thanked in the record's liner notes for his understanding and cooperation. Messner later contacted Ben Folds Five to let them know that he was highly pleased with the album.
The vocal portion of "Your Most Valuable Possession" consists of message left on Folds' answering machine
by his father, Dean Folds, while he was partially asleep
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 "loss of innocence song" about having so much baggage that now you are unable to completely explain your history; "you've made a mess."
The band recorded the songs "Leather Jacket" (written by Jessee) and "Birds" (an instrumental penned 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 Mesner
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.
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
- Producer: Caleb Southern
- Mixing: Andy Wallace
||The Billboard 200
||Top Internet Albums
Singles - Billboard (North America)
||Modern Rock Tracks