The Best Imitation Of Myself: A Retrospective
Epic/Legacy Recordings 
Fire Note Says: Ben Folds gives you a glimpse of his musical career over this nice 18 track collection.
My guess is that even the casual listener could identify at least one Ben Folds song. I also would guess that if they heard more from Ben Folds, they might like that too. The good news for them is that Folds has now just released The Best Imitation Of Myself: A Retrospective that collects a career spanning 18 tracks or for the adventurous there is also a 3 CD version. The track list was selected by Folds himself and just focusing on the single disc version, he offers a nice balance of his work with both Ben Folds Five and his solo work. Including the new song "House", there are 8 total Folds Five tracks and for anyone just getting on board with Folds, say through the show The Sing Off, these are must listens because they still represent some of his strongest work to date. Now before anyone discredits his later solo material, Retrospective features highlights like the fun "There's Always Someone Cooler Than You" and the strings version of the underappreciated but one of my favorites, "Landed". I give Folds credit for not just giving everyone a straight up studio singles only recording and listing the songs in chronological order, as "Smoke" is a live version with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and there is an unreleased extended version of "Still Fighting It" here plus he gives "The Luckiest" another shot. Of course to me there are some small flaws with Retrospective, such as kicking the compilation off with Ben Folds biggest song "Brick", that is a great song but as track one, it feels and sounds too soon and too mellow. Not including "Army" in the 18 to me is a miss and would have helped represent each album more evenly, while including "Just Pretend" from The Bens project, with Ben Lee and Ben Kweller, would have also been great. As a consistently underrated artist, Ben Folds work shines here as a timeless collection, as both old and new songs work well together. Even the 2011 new recording with his old bandmates still shows that the trio has what it takes to make a catchy ballad and maybe hopefully will rekindle the energy for them to make another record together. The three disc version clocks in at just under 4 hours, so if you are a super fan and are ready for a full record of live recordings and another disc of rarities, with another couple new Ben Folds Five songs, then make sure you grab the upgrade. Regardless of which version you check out, The Best Imitation Of Myself: A Retrospective is a solid listen and will highlight what Ben Folds has always been about - good songs, good times and making sure his fans have enjoyed themselves - guess what - all three happen here!
Key Tracks: "Underground", "Landed (Strings Version)", "One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces"
Bands With Similar Fire:
Fountains Of Wayne
Ben Folds & Nick Hornby: Lonely Avenue [Fire Note Review 9/30/10]
Ben Folds: Ben Folds Presents - University A Cappella! [Fire Note Review 5/4/09]
Ben Folds: Way To Normal [Fire Note Review 10/1/08]
Ben Folds Website
Ben Folds Facebook
-Reviewed by Christopher Anthony