BEN HARPER : WELCOME TO THE CRUEL WORLD
Label : Virgin
Length : 53:21
Released : 1994
Review (AllMusic) : The full range of Ben Harper's influences would not come to bear until later albums, but his debut, Welcome to the Cruel World, lays a strong foundation. "Like a King" and "Take That Attitude to Your Grave" burn with a political conviction rarely heard during the 1990s. "Forever" has a tenderness which demonstrates Harper's emotional range. Lackluster hippie jams that cultivated his early following may have served a purpose but feel fluffy by comparison when compared to the meatier tracks. Ben closes the album with a song that frequently closes his concerts, "I'll Rise." This song, built around Maya Angelou's 1979 poem "And Still I Rise," reminds one of art's ability to pierce through society, self, and the soul.
Review (Wikipedia) : Welcome to the Cruel World is Ben Harper's debut album from Virgin Records. Released in 1994, the album established Harper as a popular folk musician in the California area. After this release, Harper went on to add a permanent backing band, the Innocent Criminals, although they remained unnamed until the Burn to Shine album.