Posts Tagged ‘Badfinger’

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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.