CD Review: Ben Folds

The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective (Epic/Legacy)

Before he became an online hit with his funny and clever Chatroulette videos, and before he became a somewhat humorless Sing Off judge, piano-pounding Folds was one of modern rock's most tuneful smartasses, releasing four increasingly ambitious albums with his Ben Folds Five trio in the mid- and late 1990s. This three-CD survey of his career includes all the highs ("Underground," the indie-skewering breakthrough single from 1995; the abortion melodrama "Brick") and lows (last year's misfired collaboration with writer Nick Hornby). There's a whole disc of live songs that are loads of fun, and there's a whole disc of rarities like demos and alternate mixes (which aren't much fun). Still, Folds has a quick mind and quick fingers, both of which are on ample display on this overdue overview. — Gallucci

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