Ben Harper, In Our Studio

See an exclusive performance of five songs from Harper's new double album, "Both Sides of the Gun"

Posted Jun 06, 2006 1:20 PM


Watch Ben Harper's live acoustic set.

With his 1994 debut release, Welcome to the Cruel World, folk rocker Ben Harper introduced us to his now classic blend of blues, funk, reggae and old-school rock & roll. Twelve years later he has just released his seventh record and his first double album, Both Sides of the Gun. The sound is vintage Harper, but the format is not. Having declined the sometimes ill-fated ambition of a double album, Harper now joins the short list of artists who have succeeded in walking the line between richly expansive and self-indulgence.

Harper is known for his ability to play both explosive rock & roll romps and aching whisper-like ballads, often in a single performance. On Both Sides of the Gun he avoids the typical double-album curse by separating -- literally -- the quiet songs from the louder ones, allowing the record to breathe like two thirty-minute mini-albums.

In an exclusive acoustic performance for ROLLING STONE, Harper brings to life five songs off Both Sides of the Gun, accompanied only by his guitar and guitarist Michael Ward. It's rare to hear Harper without the force of his longtime band the Innocent Criminals behind him, but the serene, stripped-down atmosphere brings a new intimacy to Harper's music. From the soft and mournful "Waiting for You" to the soul-filled screech of "Engraved Invitation," Harper's performance unites both sides of his sound.

Watch Ben Harper's live acoustic set.