Saturday, 10 May 2014

"Badfinger/Wish You Were Here/In Concert At The BBC 1972-3" by BADFINGER (October 2013 Edsel/Rhino 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…A Victim Of The Circumstance…"

After their 4-album beginnings with The Beatles Apple label – it was time for Badfinger to move on – and as history would show – they made a financially and personally disastrous signing to the behemoth of Warner Brothers Records. Contractual and legal crap left them penniless and drove their gifted songwriter Pete Ham to despair – literally taking his own life in April 1975.

The band had little control over the title of their first album on their new label (originally to be known as "For Love Or Money" as a pun) and little control over the curious 'girl with a cigarette and riding crop' naff artwork. And with Badfinger’s last album on Apple having only just hit the UK shops in March of 1974 ("Ass") – it probably wasn’t the smartest of moves to hit punters with two more albums that same year. But history also shows that Badfinger had an ace up their sleeve - their songs. And it’s very evident from the opening salvo on the first four tunes on "Badfinger" – that they were back in top form – sort of England’s answer to Big Star – all tunes and melodies and great hooks that stay with you.

This fantastic October 2013 2CD set - "Badfinger/Wish You Were Here/In Concert At The BBC 1972-3" by BADFINGER on Edsel/Rhino EDSK 7036 (Barcode 740155703639) is a 2CD set of Remasters that gives us both of those 1974 albums on Warner Brothers and a further disc of 14 BBC In Concert tracks between 1972 and 1973. It breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (76:03 minutes):
1. I Miss You [Side 1]
2. Shine On
3. Love Is Easy
4. Song For A Lost Friend
5. Why Don’t We Talk
6. Island
7. Matted Spam [Side 2]
8. Where Do We From Here?
9. My Heart Goes Out
10. Lonely You
11. Give It Up
12. Andy Norris
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 5th album "Badfinger" – released July 1974 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56023 and August 1974 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2762

13. Just A Chance [Side 1]
14. Your So Fine
15. Got To Get Out Of Here
16. Know One Knows
17. Dennis
18. In The Meantime/Some Other Time [Side 2]
19. Love Time
20. King Of The Load (T)
21. Meanwhile Back At The ranch/Should I Smoke 
Tracks 13 to 21 are their 6th album "Wish You Were Here" – released October 1974 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56076 and November 1974 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2827

Disc 2 (68:03 minutes):
1. Better Days
2. Only You Know And I Know
3. We’re For The Dark
4. Sweet Tuesday Morning
5. Feelin’ Alright
6. Take It All
7. Suitcase
8. Love Is Easy
9. Blind Owl
10. Constitution
11. Icicles
12. Matted Spam
13. Suitcase
14. I Can’t Take It
Tracks 1 to 7 were recorded in concert at the Paris Theatre in London on 8 June 1972. Tracks 8 to 14 were recorded at the same venue but on 10 August 1973. JEFF GRIFFIN expertly produced both BBC sessions for the “In Concert” program and their additions here are most welcome.

The outer card wrap gives the whole reissue a quality feel – as does the chunky 28-page booklet which pictures the albums, publicity photos, track by track recording info, American promo Singles, and exceptionally detailed, affectionate and caustic liner notes by Rock Expert and long-time Edsel Associate ALAN ROBINSON. It’s both a pleasure and a horror to read (never had a group such bad luck).

PHIL KINRADE at Alchemy has obviously used the Rhino remasters and the sound quality is fabulous – especially bringing out those layered vocals which original Producer Chris Thomas captured so well.

It’s easy to see why the album openers "I Miss You" and "Shine On" were picked as an A&B for the first single off the record in the USA (Warner Brothers WB 7801) – great tunes. The second 45 "Love Is Easy" was issued in Germany in a band-photo picture sleeve (Warner Brothers WB 16323) but it did little business. Pete Ham's "Lonely You" and the wonderful "Song For A Lost Friend" have such pretty melodies (lyrics above) and were somehow indicative of the band’s overall fortunes.

"Just A Chance" opens the "Wish You Were Here" album with a rocking hit (shame it wasn’t lifted as a radio single). Joey Molland’s "Got To Get Out Of Here" sounds like acoustic Oasis while "No One Knows" and "Dennis" sound like the "Pacific Ocean Blue" album of 1977 by Beach Boy Dennis Wilson – dense with guitars and adventurous vocals. One of the best on here is "Love Time" and it rocks out with "Meanwhile Back At The Ranch/Should I Smoke" loaded with bittersweet lyrics like "should I laugh or should I cry…won’t somebody help me…"

The BBC Stuff is a raucous blast – with the band much rockier than you would imagine. The first session features two great covers of Dave Mason songs – a nine-minute romp through his Traffic hit "Feelin' Alright" and his own solo track "Only You Know And I Know" (superbly covered by Joan Osborne on her 2002 "How Sweet It Is" CD album). "Better Days" even sounds like Lynyrd Skynyrd circa 1974's "Second Helping" at times. They even go funky with "Matted Spam" and Bob Seger boogie on the finisher “I Can’t Take It”. After the ever-so-slightly over-produced nature of both studio albums – these loose live renditions feel like a breath of fresh air.

Why do some bands make it and some don’t – bad luck, bad judgement, bad handling by people who should have known better.

At least we have this excellent reminder of what really matters – the music...

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