Posts Tagged ‘Apple Records’

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Real Gone Music has announced its offerings for the 2019 Record Store Day celebration, taking place at your local brick-and-mortar shop Saturday, April 13th, and they include a pair of rarities releases from two beloved bands,

BadfingerSo Fine–The Warner Bros. Rarities(2-LP Red Vinyl Edition) (2,000 copies)

Most folks point to Badfinger as the greatest power pop band of all time. But, with four accomplished songwriters in Tom Evans, Mike Gibbins, Pete Ham, and Joey Molland, and the creative assistance and imprimatur of The Beatles, Badfinger should have been bigger stars than they were. Their four albums for The Beatles’ Apple label get most of the attention, and understandably so, with hits like “Come and Get It,” “No Matter What,” “Day by Day,” and “Baby Blue.” But their subsequent two albums for Warner Bros. represent their true creative peak, reached even as the band–and the lives of the members of the band–fell apart.

In late 2018, Real Gone Music, together with Badfinger biographer Dan Matovina, took a fresh look at Badfinger’s brilliant but ill-fated Warner Bros. albums, Badfinger and Wish You Were Here. Not only did the two CD releases offer the first new remastering of the original albums since their maiden release on CD, but they also each boasted an extra album’s worth of unreleased bonus material featuring alternate mixes and newly-discovered songs. The releases caused a flurry of fresh interest in the band, and a furor among Badfinger fans, who to this day rank as some of the most passionate in all of rock and roll.

Now, exclusively for Record Store Day, Real Gone Music is bringing the previously unreleased material that premiered on its Badfinger CD releases to vinyl for the first time. Each disc on the 2-LP set, So Fine–The Warner Bros. Rarities, presents the alternate versions of the songs on each album in the order they originally appeared, followed by one previously unreleased song (in the case of Badfinger, “Love My Lady”; in the case of Wish You Were Here, “Queen of Darkness”). Along with piquant quotes from producer Chris Thomas, Matovina’s liner notes include for the first time track-by-track breakdowns of the differences between the alternate and original mixes.  John Golden has cut the lacquers for these releases at Golden Mastering.

There are ill-starred outfits… and then was Badfinger. They were the first band signed to The Beatles’ Apple label, but financial mismanagement and industry pressures proved their (tragic) undoing.

Talk about your bad mojo. It would be hard to find a band with as tragic a back-story as Badfinger, not one of whom, but two, of its original members hanged themselves. And this despite a string of at least five timeless tunes, and plenty of other good songs to boot. The problem is that corrupt management—in the form of the New York mob-connected Stan Polley who made off with the bulk of the band’s profits, leaving Badfinger’s members practically penniless. It proved to be too much for the band’s songwriting team, Pete Ham and Tom Evans, leaving Badfinger to be remembered as much for its morbid history as its status as a great power pop band, They were England’s answer to The Raspberries.

The quartet formed in Swansea, Wales in 1961 as The Iveys. After much struggling they found themselves part of Apple Records’ stable of artists and hit pay dirt with “Come and Get It,” a Paul McCartney written and produced record, at which juncture they changed their name to Badfinger, supposedly after an early iteration of “With a Little Help From My Friends” entitled “Bad Finger Boogie,” so named because an injured McCartney was reduced to using one finger. They then proceeded to produce a number of hits, but saw no money.

But what a legacy they left behind! It’s not all here on Timeless… The Musical Legacy (you owe it to yourself to also check out 1990’s The Best of Badfinger, Vol. 2, which includes such great tunes as “Just a Chance” and “Shine On”) but it’s a powerhouse record nonetheless, and convincing proof that Badfinger was more, and much more, than the band that brought us the delectable “Day After Day.”

Speaking of “Day After Day,” has there ever been a song so luscious, from its wonderful melody to its great guitar line to the dual slide guitars—played by Ham and George Harrison, whom the band joined at Harrison’s 1971 Concert for Bangladesh? It’s so lovely it’s easy to forget how sad it is. Meanwhile, the band proffers a low-key version of its “Without You” which Harry Nilsson turned into a megahit—but the vocals on the choruses are to die for, as is the lovely melody. And the organ is great. “Rock of All Ages” is an anomaly; a full-scale rocker that reminds one—no matter how much Badfinger hated the inevitable Beatles comparisons—like nothing so much as a Paul McCartney screamer. The guitar solo is raunchy, some honky-tonk piano comes in and out—and the boys shout out the lyrics like the Fab Four in full rock mode. .

I’m not a fan of “Dear Angie”; it’s slow and sounds like an atavistic throwback to a prior time, and the guitars are too polite, the vocals too perfect. In short it’s too neat a package for my tastes, right down to the strings that end it. As for “Come and Get It,” it’s power pop perfection; the joint vocals are great, the drumming is wonderful, and the story is that the band wanted to do their own take on it but that Paul McCartney, the song’s producer, laid down the law, saying in effect it’s my way or the highway. We’ll never know what Badfinger would have done with it, but I have no doubt that Mac was right on this one. I dislike “Maybe Tomorrow” for many of the same reasons I dislike “Dear Angie”—it’s far too treacly, and the strings are too distracting and conservative, and I’d love to hear this one stripped down, because the vocals show signs of life, and without the accoutrements they might have saved the song.

“No Matter What” may be my favorite Badfinger tune, from its raucous guitar to its great group vocals (“Knock down the old grey wall/Be a part of it all”) to the stagger step the band takes toward the end. “Baby Blue” is also a miracle of songwriting, especially in its transition from slow opening to mid-tempo middle. Then there’s the guitar-heavy interlude followed by a brief solo, and once again some fabulous group vocals, leading to the needle-sharp guitar note that ends the tune. “Believe Me” reminds me of the Beatles—there, I said it—chiefly because the vocals remind me of John Lennon, but the band’s sudden shift from soft to loud is so, so cool. As are the dueling guitars, and the piano, and like they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I like this one regardless of whether it’s mildly derivative.

“Name of The Game” is a lovely ballad with great lead and backing vocals, a comely piano, and a chorus guaranteed to move you. What wonderful vocals! I may prefer The Raspberries because they provided more big guitar riffs, but I’ll go with Badfinger when it comes to vocals any day, the great Eric Carmen be damned. Meanwhile that piano rides atop the rest of the band to the end of the song, and it’s luvverly. “I’ll Be the One” offers up more great vocals, but this tune mixes them with a tune that is largely Beatles and a guitar that is country honk-era Stones. Somehow, the mix not only works, but is sublime.

“Apple of My Eye” is a ballad and I’m not wild about it, despite the wonderful harmonies and the big transcendent choruses, which add some crunch to the apple. Oh, hell, I guess I do like it, or as much as the odd “Suitcase” anyway. This one’s heavy on the slide guitar—it may indeed be the only Badfinger song where the guitar is more prominent than the vocals—as well as the organ, but the vocals are still cool, and this is probably the furthest they ever got from power pop. LP closer “Timeless” is a bit too “Renaissance Festival” for my liking, what with the flute and the madrigal-like vocals. But then the piano comes in, followed by some big guitars that have George Harrison written all over them. I like the extended guitar solo, which is followed by some heavy-duty power chords, but then they return to the vocals, which just don’t do it for me.

In early 1970, The Beatles released their final album Let It Be. Closing with the rockin’ ‘Get Back’, the group’s sound was rather distinct, leaving it almost impossible for anyone to mix up the band with anyone else.

Unfortunately, late 1970 also happened to see fellow Englishman Badfinger release their third album, No Dice. Released on The Beatles’ Apple Records and featuring the single ‘No Matter What’, listeners began to wonder if this was the Fab Four reunited, or if it was a solo project by one of them.

To make things more confusing, Badfinger actually took their name from a working title of a Beatles song, and guitarist Pete Ham played a Gibson SG which was given to him by none other than George Harrison, making it almost seem as if they were trying to mess with us at some point.

Badfinger is almost certainly the most screwed-over band in rock history; for sure no other group got ripped off to the extent that two of its four members opted to end their lives. And beyond being a tragedy, it’s a pity, because there is nothing to suggest that Badfinger didn’t have more great music in them. We were all betrayed by the band’s shady manager, who died in 2009 and is hopefully rotting in Hell. I can’t listen to “Come and Get It” and “No Matter What” without wondering what might have been. They could have been more than contenders. They could have been more than that band that sounded so much like the Beatles.

Badfinger Take Another Bite Of The Apple

One of the most important groups in the development of the Apple label, were Beatles protégés Badfinger, who released their second album under that band name, No Dice, in the UK on 27th November 1970.

The band had made their debut on Apple when they were still named the Iveys, with 1969’s ‘Maybe Tomorrow,’ co-produced by the up-and-coming Tony Visconti and Beatles sideman Mal Evans. After renaming themselves Badfinger, they released the Magic Christian Music album early in 1970, which contained their major hit single ‘Come And Get It,’ written and produced by Paul McCartney.

They followed that towards the end of the year with No Dice, which was notable for including both their second hit 45 ‘No Matter What’ and the original version of ‘Without You,’ which would be turned into a global hit in 1972 by Harry Nilsson.

No Dice was the album on which guitarist Joey Molland joined the Badfinger line-up as replacement for Ron Griffiths. While Ham was the major writing contributor (penning ‘No Matter What’ and other tracks), Molland co-wrote four tracks on the record. Evans shared production duties with another Beatles collaborator, Geoff Emerick.

Oddly, Badfinger not only missed the UK chart with No Dice, but never made the album listings at all in their native country. In America, though, where Magic Christian Music had reached No. 55 in a respectable 17-week run, the album went as high as No. 28, with 15 weeks on the chart, the band’s best-ever ranking. After the No. 7 success of ‘Come And Get It,’ ‘No Matter What’ followed it into the top ten, at No. 8.  single.

All Things Must Pass – An Appreciation

Classic album is a term that’s used way too much when describing records but of course, one person’s classic album is another’s long-forgotten record, but we think that without fear of contradiction George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass is definately a CLASSIC album… 45 Years ago, released on 19th December 1970.

There’s an old adage in the music business that talks of, ‘the difficult third album’, well this was George’s third solo album and there’s nothing difficult about it, every track is worthy of its place, it was originally released as a triple vinyl album when it came out on 27th November 1970. Truth is George considered this to be his first solo album proper, having originally released his movie soundtrack, Wonderwall Music and his synthesizer album, Electronic Sound.

The genesis of All Things Must Pass can be said to have begun with George’s visit to America in November 1968 when he established his long-lasting friendship with Bob Dylan while staying in Woodstock. George’s songwriting output was increasing and becoming increasingly more self-assured, for example he co-wrote ‘Badge’ with Eric Clapton for Creams Goodbye album that came out in early 1969.

George’s involvement with Apple Record’s signings, Billy Preston and Doris Troy in 1969, as well as his tour playing guitar with Delaney and Bonnie in a band that included Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Dave Mason, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle and Jim Gordon, began to influence his writing with elements of gospel and the kind of sounds that we have come to call ‘Americana’.

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George’s spiritual journey saw him involved with the Hare Krishna movement that would also become another vital piece in the jigsaw of sound that makes up All Things Must Pass. In February 1969, on his 26th birthday, George recorded a demo of his song, ‘All Things Must Pass’, along with ‘Old Brown Shoe’ and ‘Something’. The latter two songs went on to be recorded by the Beatles and for whatever reason ‘All Things Must Pass’ was not recorded by the Beatles; the song is based on a translation of part of chapter 23 of the Tao Te Ching, “All things pass, A sunrise does not last all morning. A month earlier George also made a demo of ‘Isn’t It A Pity’, one of the standout tracks on All Things Must Pass, but this song too failed to make the cut for a Beatles album. It wasn’t until early 1970 that initial preparatory work began on George’s solo album; it was at this time that he played producer Phil Spector demos of songs that he had been writing while with the Beatles.

Some of these songs went back as far as 1966, specifically, ‘Isn’t It a Pity’ and ‘Art of Dying’ and he had written ‘’I’d Have You Anytime’ with Bob Dylan in late 1968 while in Woodstock. George had tried to get the Beatles interested in ‘All Things Must Pass’, ‘Hear Me Lord’ and the beautiful, ‘Let It Down’, during rehearsals for the Get Back album, but the other Beatles seemed not to be interested. ‘Wah-Wah’ and ‘Run of the Mill’ both dated from early 1969, while ‘What Is Life’ came to George while he was working with Billy Preston on his album, That’s the Way God Planned It. ‘Behind That Locked Door ‘ was written in the summer of ’69, just before Dylan’s performance at the Isle of Wight Festival and he started to write the epic, ‘My Sweet Lord’ in Copenhagen while on tour with Delaney and Bonnie in late 1969.

It was while on tour with Delaney Bramlett that the Americans asked George to play slide guitar and his ‘I Dig Love’ is an early experiment with a sound that George came to make his own. Other songs on All Things Must Pass were all written in the first half of 1970, these include ‘Awaiting on You All’, ‘Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)’, a tribute to the original owner of George’s home, Friar Park and ‘Beware of Darkness’. Shortly before the sessions for his album began, George was at a Dylan session in New York, which is where he heard, ‘If Not for You’ and in turn George was inspired to write the Dylanesque, ‘Apple Scruffs’ as the All Things Must Pass sessions were winding up, it was in tribute to the girls who hung around outside Apple Corps offices where he was working, or Abbey Road Studios in the hope of meeting a Beatle.

Recording the album began in late May 1970 and such was the frustration within George at being unable to get his songs on Beatles’ albums that it is of little surprise that there were so many on All Things Must Pass. The third record included in the original triple album is entitled Apple Jam and four of the five tracks – ‘Out of the Blue’, ‘Plug Me In’, ‘I Remember Jeep’ and ‘Thanks for the Pepperoni’ – are i instrumentals put together in the studio. According to George “For the jams, I didn’t want to just throw [them] in the cupboard, and yet at the same time it wasn’t part of the record; that’s why I put it on a separate label to go in the package as a kind of bonus.” The fifth track, It’s Johnny’s Birthday was a present for Lennon’s 30th and it is sung to the tune of Cliff Richard’s ‘Congratulations’.

Such is the big sound of All Things Must Pass that it is hard to be precise as to who appears on what track. Aside from those already mentioned there is Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, and German bassist Klaus Voormann who also did the artwork for the cover of the Beatles’ Revolver album. Members of Apple band, Badfinger were included, helping to create the wall of sound effect on acoustic guitars, and besides future Derek and the Dominos’ keyboard player Bobby Whitlock the other principal keyboardist was Gary Wright who had been a member of Spooky Tooth and later in the 1970s had some big hits in America. Other keyboard players included, Tony Ashton, and John Barham who both played on Wonderwall Music

The drummers were future Yes man, and member of the Plastic Ono Band, Alan White, Phil Collins in his pre-Genesis days and Ginger Baker on the jam, ‘I Remember Jeep’. Other musicians included Nashville pedal steel player Pete Drake and Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker.

700614 D & t D first gig

Originally George had thought it would take just two months to record All Things Must Pass but in the end recording lasted for five months, not finishing until late October. George’s mother was ill with cancer during the recording and this meant that he needed to head back to Liverpool on a regular basis to see her; she died in July 1970. Phil Spector also proved somewhat unreliable and all this led to George himself doing much of the production work himself.

Final mixing of the record started at the very end of October in New York City with Phil Spector. George was not entirely happy with what Spector did, but nothing can take away from the brilliance of this record that still stands up to the test of time. Tom Wilkes designed the box to hold the three LPs and Barry Feinstein took the iconic photos of George and the four garden gnomes on the grass in front of Friar Park.

Scheduled for release in October, the delays meant it came out in America on 27th November 1970 and three days later in the UK. The first triple album by a single artist, it captivated audiences everywhere, entering the Billboard album chart in December it spent 7 weeks at No.1 in America starting with the first chart of 1971. In the UK it only made No.4 on the ‘official’ album chart, although it topped the NME’s chart for 7 weeks. George’s lead single from All Things Must Pass was, ‘My Sweet Lord’ and it topped the singles chart on both sides of the Atlantic.

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As time passes we have come to love this amazing record even more. It is the kind of record that says so much about what made music so vital as the 1960s became the 1970s. It is full of great songs, and lyrics that not only meant something then but still resonate today. As future decades come and go, and new generations of music lovers look back, this is the kind of record that will take on almost mythical status. It’s one thing being able to read about its making, it’s quite another thing to allow it to envelop you, to caress you and to make you feel the world is a better place in which to live having listened to it.

All Things Must Pass is George’s spiritual high, truly a classic and unquestionably one of the greatest albums ever made…triple, double or single.

All Things Must Pass was remastered for 2014 and is included in George Harrison’s The Apple Years 1968-1975 box set.