So I got a little nostalgic this week. Sue me!
It happens whenever you start moving and refiling albums and you slow to a crawl because you read the liner notes, slap an old favorite onto the player, get lost in the moment. So forgive the back to back memory posts.
I remember thinking – like many did – that Badfinger was another Beatle prank. Surely “Come And Get It” was Paul, probably playing all the parts, trying to balance the scales because he wasn’t really dead. But no, Badfinger was a real band, and a great one. and tragic beyond words.
The BBC disc that came out years later really gave a nice glimpse into what was and what might have been, and were the rock graveyard not littered with so many casualties, maybe the current generation would look back and realize how much was lost. But Badfinger is likely just a footnote in the current scene; even older fans have had their pain numbed enough to cast them aside.
Not me. Here’s a review from that archive disc from 2000…
Culled from two concerts at pivotal points in their career, BBC is remarkable in that the obvious hit singles are nowhere to be found. Instead, listeners will be surprised at just how talented Pete Ham and Joey Molland were as guitar players. Both shows were recorded at the Paris Theatre in London, with seven tracks from each included (along with “Come And Get It” from a 1970 show on Top Of The Pops as a bonus track).
The first half of the disc features two shimmering acoustic numbers in “We’re For The Dark” and “Sweet Tuesday Morning,” which are counterbalanced against two Dave Mason covers(!). Badfinger as…jam band? You bet. “Only You Know And I Know” and “Feelin’ Alright” get a serious thrashing, the latter track a nine minute indulgence of funk, soul and harmonic pop. Kicking off the set with a rocking rendition of “Better Days,” and arguably at the height of their popularity, the band is confident and tight.
The second show, recorded fourteen months later (October 1973) finds the band in their post-Apple, pre-Warner Brothers era. Although continuing to feature strong harmonies and solid musicianship, Badfinger dabbled in harder, more guitar oriented rock and roll. Look no further than the two versions of “Suitcase” – in 1972 it chugged along, but the 1973 version is far more powerful. “Constitution” boasts some blistering axe work complete with wah-wah workout, and this live version of “I Can’t Take It” might be the most intense track the band ever recorded.
At the time, new songs like “Matted Spam” showed a taste of things to come…or so we thought. Tragically, Pete Ham took his life only a year and a half later, and eight years later, Tom Evans followed. Those not familiar with the band would be well advised to pick up “Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger“; author Dan Matovina also wrote the liner notes for this release. Later this year, VH-1 will also recall their tale with an episode of “Behind The Music.”
Fuel 2000 has plans to mine the vaults and release or reissue many classic titles from the BBC vaults. In tandem with the King Biscuit releases, a new generation can finally savor what the elders among us enjoyed (and took for granted) as a weekly staple of our rock and roll lives.