Badfinger where on the way up at the time of release of this album.
This is their first proper album.
Their actual first album, the soundtrack album, "Magic Christian Music", was actually a hodgepodge of tracks. Five songs were recorded specifically for the film "The Magic Christian" and the other seven songs were tracks previously released, in the late 1960s, when the group was known as “The Iveys”.
Badfinger knew where they were going and in had it all. They good all sing and they could all write songs and they were undoubtedly good musicians … and I mean all four of them.
They were like a supergroup without anyone having anyone having been in a band of repute. With Pete Ham they had a focused and sometimes inspired songwriter, and Tom Evans and Mike Gibbins were no slackers either. The recent addition of Joey Molland would provide a songwriter and vocalist perhaps the equal of Hams.
But, they, despite some hits, never really made it.
They should have been much, much bigger.
Such is rock 'n' roll, such is life.
Career missteps, intruding wives and girlfriends, friction between band members, and a suicide were probably to blame.
But, there are many acts who have overcome obstacles to reach the top level.
With Badfinger it was inevitably, possibly all these things, as well as being in the wrong place and the wrong time.
If they were American and, perhaps, ten years later they would have had a successful career in the skinny tie movement and the talent to outlive it. Quite tellingly, despite what patriotic revisionist English rock historians would have you believe, the band have been generally more popular and had more of a post career influence and following in the USA. The charts support that (they placed 4 singles and no albums in the UK charts, whereas in the US they placed 8 singles and 8 albums … albeit most were quite low in the charts) as does the flood of power pop bands indebted to them in the late 70s. It wasn't until, perhaps the Britpop bands of the 90s that Badfinger got some respectability at home (outside of the hardcore Beatles nuts).
Maybe it because they weren't from London? The original band (Gibbins and Ham) were from Swansea in Wales while newer members Evans and Molland were from Liverpool. Outsiders?
They did reform in the early 80s and try their hand at the same but they weren't as young as they once were.
They are usually lumped into the powerpop category along with The Raspberries but like The Raspberries I always found them to be precursors to power pop (and I don't mean in chronological time)
This album, like their others of the time (that I have heard) is a 70s rock 'n' roll album but with an emphasis on catchy melodies, ie: pop. There are songs with swagger, others that rock, ballads, and acoustic numbers. There is a lot of Beatles here but there is also, quite a bit, of The Rolling Stones as well as, perhaps, a little (Ian) Matthews' Southern Comfort.
They are often compared to the Raspberries though a better comparison is Washington DC band Grin (with Nils Lofren) and perhaps Big Star (though its unlikely that anyone would have heard of them at the time).
Either way there are stellar moments here and the best they did with an album (in the charts). After their next album it was all downhill but there were small treasures on the way down.
See my other comments for biographical detail on the band. Check out the links for bios on the band.
Tracks (best in italics)
- I Can't Take It – (Pete Ham) – vocals : Ham with Evans – Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock N Roll" as if it was done by The Beatles
- I Don't Mind – (Tom Evans/Joey Molland) – vocals : Evans with Molland – a gentle ballad.
- Love Me Do – (Molland) – vocals : Molland – ha harr, for a band with such obvious Beatles influences to write a song called "Love me Do" must have been a statement. The songs have nothing but the title in common. This is a straight ahead "old fashioned" rocker.
- Midnight Caller – (Ham) – vocals : Ham with Evans – a ballad.
- No Matter What – (Ham) – vocals : Ham – a great song and perfect Paul McCartney and perhaps, even, a little better than McCartney at the time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Matter_What_(Badfinger_song)
- Without You – (Ham/Evans) – vocals : Ham with Evans and Molland – a magnificent melancholy classic of a song. I like the little snatch from "A Whiter Shade of Pale" at the end. Badfinger do it beautifully, and then Harry Nilsson (with his own beatles connections) covered it and had a #1 US hit with it in 1972. His version is beyond spectacular. A great example of the paucity of supremacy of authorship arguments. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Without_You_(Badfinger_song)
- Blodwyn – (Ham) – vocals : Ham with Evans and Molland – a country flavoured mid tempo song. Catchy.
- Better Days – (Evans/Molland) – vocals : Molland – another catchy ballad type song.
- It Had to Be – (Mike Gibbins) – vocals : Ham with Gibbins – a mid tempo ballad with Beatles harmonies.
- Watford John – (Evans/Gibbins/Ham/Molland) – vocals : Ham and Evans – A mid tempo rocker and very of its time.
- Believe Me – (Evans) – vocals : Evans with Ham – very similar to The Beatles "Oh Darling" but still good.
- We're for the Dark – (Ham) – vocals : Ham – a pretty acoustic mid tempo ballad.
Excellent … the best of their albums I have heard thus far. I'm sorry to say I hadn't listened to it earlier (Mitchell was right). I'm keeping it … well actually I'm not as I'm giving it to a mate. Now I have to find another copy.
1970 No Matter What #8
1970 No Matter What #5
No Matter What
mp 3 attached
- The album emerged difficultly. A version produced by the band with Geoff Emerick and rejected by Apple, then George Harrison produced but didn't finish the album. It was "overhauled", apparently, by Todd Rundgren. What belongs to who I don't know. The final producers credit goes to Geoff Emerick with the "No Matter What" and "Believe Me" being credited to Mal Evans.