In Reissue Theory, The Second Disc researches and drafts a box set, compilation or reissue that would be worth pursuing by a label.
Lots of catalogue enthusiasts are older folks, there’s no getting around that. Those who grew up with great rock and roll and consumed it on compact discs as adults are probably the lion’s share of people reading sites like this.
But regardless of what you perceive the quality of more recent music to be, it needs to be looked after as well by catalogue enthusiasts. I like to think of myself as one of those people – as a young listener with an open mind, I can apply the techniques of classic cataloging to the newer guard of music.
With that in mind, one of my favorite artists with a slightly more contemporary output is Ben Folds Five, that great indie-pop-rock trio of the 1990s. They were never a “hit” act, but their quirky musicianship (lead singer Ben Folds played a full grand piano with a drums-and-bass accompaniment – almost no guitar whatsoever!) and catchy, lyrical tunes (what high school kid hasn’t banged out the opening chords to “Brick,” their 1997 single and closest thing to a hit?) make them an appreciated act to this day. Even though Folds went on to have an uneven solo career, the memory of the band lives on.
And that’s something catalogue labels have noticed. In 2005, the band’s sophomore record, 1997’s Whatever and Ever Amen, got a nice remastered version by Sony, featuring a nice handful of B-sides. But as it turns out, this year marks the 15th anniversary of their first record, released on indie stalwart Caroline Records. You know what that should mean: let’s draft up a reissue!
The way I see it, a 15th anniversary edition of Ben Folds Five would be a two-disc set. Disc 1 would have the original LP and non-album tracks – but I think it would be neat to rearrange the playlist. You see, three tracks were excised from the album at the last minute. Those tracks – “Eddie Walker,” “Emaline” (the only BFF song with a guitar!) and “Tom & Mary” – were later released on a 1998 rarities compilation, Naked Baby Photos. But I’ve always wondered where they’d go in the context of the album itself. Here’s my guess:
Disc 1 – Original Album and Non-LP Tracks
- Jackson Cannery
- Eddie Walker
- Where’s Summer B.?
- Alice Childress
- Sports & Wine
- Uncle Walter
- Best Imitation of Myself
- Tom & Mary
- The Last Polka
- Jackson Cannery (7″ Version)
- Eddie Walker, This is Your Life (7″ Version) *
- Uncle Walter (Alternate) *
* denotes track previously unreleased on CD
Tracks 16 and 17 released as independent 7″ single in 1994 – Track 16 previously released on Naked Baby Photos compilation
Track 18 released on cassette version of Ben Folds Five
Disc 2 – Live at Ziggy’s, Winston-Salem, NC – 8/12/1995
Ben Folds Five were a live act to see. They were spirited, they improvised a lot and they generally showed audiences a good time. The show from the early era that would do them the most justice would be this set, done in the band’s hometown the weekend after the record came out. A full setlist has proven to be elusive, but it was known to have been recorded professionally, since many of the B-sides to the album were taken from live cuts during this show. To that end, it’s known that “Tom & Mary,” “Emaline,” “Video,” “Underground” and an improv song, “Satan is My Master,” were performed.
I think this would be a heck of a reissue to honor a truly underrated band. And of course, I’d love your suggestions for Reissue Theory as well. Send ’em to firstname.lastname@example.org.