Badfinger – Straight Up

Obviously, I really like this band. When I was a newbie Beatles fan I thought Come and Get It was a Beatles song and then I found out it was this band with a funny name called Badfinger . As a teenager I had this album and I bought their  1979 Airwaves album (without Pete Ham) in the early eighties. in the cutout bin. It was a nice album but without Pete Ham it wasn’t up to their standards.

They were more than a singles band…this album is a great powerpop album  and you won’t find many of the songs on a greatest hits collection. Badfinger was known as a singles band but they did have one great album along with very good ones…and Straight Up was it.

I bought two of Pete Ham “solo” albums named Golders Green and 7 Park Avenue in the 1990s. The albums were made of Pete’s demos from the 60s and 70s. The pop world really missed out when Pete decided to leave the earth. His songs were very McCartney like…good McCartney like.

Badfinger had undoubtedly one of the saddest stories in a business that is full of them. Two members committed suicide and the band was ripped off beyond belief by a manager. The band was left virtually penniless after making millions.

Straight Up has two of their big hits…the beautiful Day After Day and what I consider the best power-pop song of all time…Baby Blue. It’s not just the hits though that are good….the band had three songwriters with Pete Ham, Tom and  Joey Molland.  Tom and Joey were not in their bandmate’s writing level but they were very good. There is not a bad song on the album.

Take It All is a song written by Pete and the song is about the Bangladesh concert when Pete got to play with George Harrison up front and his bandmates were in the background. Joey Molland the other guitarist was upset at this so Pete wrote this song.

Suitcase was a rocking song that Joey Molland wrote and was a great live song. It was a departure from the power pop they played…they were expanding their repertoire. Pete Ham plays some great slide guitar in this.

Sweet Tuesday Morning is one of those seventies songs that is beautifully written and performed by Joey.

Of course the hits…Day After Day and Baby Blue…this is Day After Day it peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100, #2 in Canada and #10 in the UK in 1971.

Badfinger along with Big Star and the Raspberries gave us great power pop and helped create the genre. If you have a greatest hits…this would be a good companion album to go with it.

Take It All
Baby Blue
Money
Flying
I’d Die, Babe
Name Of The Game
Suitcase
Sweet Tuesday Morning
Day After Day
Sometimes
Perfection
It’s Over

Baby Blue peaked at #14 in the Billboard 100, #7 in Canada, and #73 in the UK.

My 10 Favorite Powerpop Songs

As you may have guessed by now I’m an extreme fan of power pop. This list was hard to write…I kept changing most of it… but I knew the top choice and worked from there.

I just gave my self ten choices or I would have gone on and on. A lot of artists and their songs were left off…such as Todd Rundgren, The Cars, Sloan, The Lemon Twigs, The Flamin’ Groovies, The Shivvers, The Jayhawks,  and too many more to mention.

10. The Ride – Twisterella– 1992 – I found this a few months back and have been listening to it ever since.

9. The Records – Starry Eyes– 1979 – Great song. Starry Eyes would end up being The Record’s best-known song. Robert John “Mutt” Lange produced their debut album for The Records.

8. The La’s – There She Goes– 1990 – A very good power pop song that has no verses…It just repeats the chorus four different ways four different times…but that doesn’t matter.

7. Cheap Trick – Voices– 1980 – One of my top Cheap Trick songs. Robin Zanders voice sounds great in this Beatlesque song.

6. The Who –Pictures of Lily– 1967 –  When this song came out Pete Townshend coined the name “power pop” and this song is about the childhood…lusts…of a boy.

5. Raspberries – Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)– 1974 – An epic song by the Raspberries. Not their most popular…that would be “Go All The Way” but this encapsulates everything power pop is about. Bruce Springsteen on Overnight Sensation: It’s one of the best little pop symphonies you’ll ever hear.

4. Big Star – The Ballad of El Goodo – 1972 – The tone of the guitars, harmonies and the perfect constructed chorus keeps me coming back listen after listen.

3. Badfinger –No Matter What– 1971 – The only band to make this list twice. Why? because this song defines the crunchy power pop of bands like Cheap Trick to come.

 2. Tom Petty – American Girl– 1977 – The Rickenbacker, the hook, and a Byrds sounding track.

 

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  1. Badfinger – Baby Blue – 1972 – The number one song was the easiest decision of the list. The rest were changed a few times…this one for me is a no-brainer. This song is the perfect power pop song…strong vocals, Crunchy Brit  guitar, great hook,  and great melody

Badfinger – Take It All —-Powerpop Friday

This song is an example that Badfinger was more than just their hits. Pete Ham’s ability to write memorable pop songs never wavered. Take It All was inspired by the band’s work on George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh project. Some of the band members were a little miffed on why Pete Ham got to play with George Harrison in the spotlight and they didn’t.

Take It All was on the album “Straight Up” This is my favorite album by them. It has Baby Blue and Day after Day but a host of other good songs. Money, Name of the Game, Suitcase, Sweet Tuesday Morning, and I’d Die Babe.

The album peaked at #31 in 1972 in the Billboard 100.

 

Take It All

In a way the sun has shone on me
Makes it easy to make it hard
Take an inch, take a yard, take it all
I don’t need it at all

Any day the sun could shine on you
Makes it silly to make it bad
Take it good, take it glad, take it all

Don’t you know there’s a stronger thing
Keeping us together
Don’t you know there’s a song to sing
Sing on, let the feeling take you high

Don’t you know there’s a stronger thing
Keeping us together
Don’t you know there’s a song to sing
Sing on, let the feeling take you high

Any day the sun will shine on you
Makes it silly to take it bad
Make it good, take it glad, take it all
I don’t need it at all, I don’t want it at all
No, no, no

Badfinger – Come and Get It

It’s been a while…I thought I would open the joint back up today. This is the only hit of Badfinger I haven’t posted on. It’s a softball to me because it was the first song I noticed by them and probably a song that a lot of people will answer “Beatles” when asked who did it.

Paul McCartney wrote this song and made a demo (below) of it for a movie that Ringo was in called The Magic Christian. He gave the demo to Badfinger and told them not to change a thing. They all tried singing it but it fit bass player Tom Evans the best for the lead.

It must have been an embarrassment of riches to be able to hand a hit off to an unknown Apple band at the time. This song was Badfinger’s first top ten hit in America. It peaked at #7 in the Billboard 100 in 1970.

Paul wrote this incredibly catchy song for Badfinger and this set their reputation as “Beatle ish” that they tried to run away from later on.

From Songfacts

Paul McCartney wrote this for the 1969 movie The Magic Christian, starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr.

This was Badfinger’s first hit single. They were one of the first groups to sign with Apple Records, which is The Beatles’ label.

Badfinger had a few other hits in the early ’70s, but in 1974 Warner Brothers Records, which signed them when Apple folded, sued the band and kept them from recording. One member of the group killed himself a year later, and another committed suicide in 1983.

Paul McCartney recorded the demo of this, and he played all the instruments himself. This was done prior to a Beatles recording session at Abbey Road studios. Paul’s demo sounds exactly like Badfinger’s recording, which he produced. In The Beatles Anthology book, Paul mentions that Badfinger wanted to do the song more in their own style, but he insisted they do it the same as on his demo. He told them that he knew this would be a hit song as long as they played it just as he had.

Paul McCartney’s demo of the song

Come and Get It

If you want it, here it is, come and get it
Mm mm mm mm, make your mind up fast
If you want it, any time, I can give it

But you’d better hurry ’cause it may not last
Did I hear you say that there must be a catch?
Will you walk away from a fool and his money?

If you want it, here it is, come and get it
But you’d better hurry ’cause it’s goin’ fast
If you want it, here it is, come and get it
Mm mm mm mm, make your mind up fast

If you want it, any time, I can give it
But you’d better hurry ’cause it may not last

Did I hear you say that there must be a catch?
Will you walk away from a fool and his money?
Sonny!

If you want it, here it is, come and get it
But you’d better hurry ’cause it’s goin’ fast
You’d better hurry ’cause it’s goin’ fast

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
Fool and his money
Sonny!

If you want it, here it is, come and get it
But you’d better hurry ’cause it’s goin’ fast
You’d better hurry ’cause it’s goin’ fast
You’d better hurry ’cause it’s goin’ fast.

Badfinger – Day After Day

The slide guitar sounds familiar because George Harrison produced this and played slide on it. The year before, Badfinger played on Harrison’s first solo album, All Things Must Pass. Leon Russell played piano on this recording. It was mixed by Todd Rundgren. It’s a beautiful song about longing.

They were signed to the Beatle’s Apple Records which was a blessing and a curse. It got them noticed with initial excitement but also hindered their development for their own sound.

This is one of their best-known songs. This is their highest charting song and it peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100, #2 in Canada, and #10 in the UK Charts in 1972. The song was off of the Straight Up album that peaked at #31 in the Billboard album charts.

From Songfacts

Badfinger guitarist Peter Ham wrote this. A few years later, after a dispute with their record label over missing money, Ham committed suicide.

This sounds a lot like The Beatles. Badfinger was one of the first bands to sign with The Beatles’ label, Apple Records. As a result, they got to know The Beatles quite well and picked up on their sound. Badfinger signed with Warner Brothers when Apple Records folded.

This song appeared on the Fox television show The Simpsons, in the episode “Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind” (Episode 9, Season 19) in which Homer tries to recollect events that happened from the night before. It had a very high rating on Fox, and is considered by fans to be as good as the original seasons episodes.

Day After Day

I remember finding out about you
Every day, my mind is all around you
Looking out from my lonely room, day after day
Bring it home, baby, make it soon
I give my love to you

I remember holding you while you sleep
Every day, I feel the tears that you weep
Looking out of my lonely gloom, day after day
Bring it home, baby, make it soon
I give my love to you

Looking out of my lonely room, day after day
Bring it home, baby, make it soon
I give my love to you

I remember finding out about you
Every day, my mind is all around you
Looking out of my lonely gloom, day after day
Bring it home, baby, make it soon
I give my love to you.

Harry Nilsson – Without You

Nilsson’s vocal on this song is outstanding. He took a small blues song written by Badfinger’s Pete Ham and Tom Evans and turned it into an epic. Ham had written a song called “Is This Love?” but wasn’t happy with the chorus. Evans came up with the “I can’t’ live if living is without you” chorus but had no verses for it, so they put the two songs together as one. Both would die broke while this song made millions. Ham and Evans never considered it a strong song.

The song was a smash… peaking at #1 in the Billboard 100 as well as Canada and the UK in 1971. Mariah Carey also released the song on Jan 15 1994 (the day Nilsson died) and the song proved to be a smash again.

From Songfacts

Nilsson first came across this song at a Laurel Canyon party in 1971 and thought it was a Beatles song. Badfinger was signed to Apple Records, The Beatles’ label. The story did not end well for Badfinger: Both Ham and Evans became despondent when they encountered various legal difficulties and committed suicide. Ham hanged himself in 1975 and Evans did the same in 1983.

Nilsson’s version added an orchestra and gave the song a dramatic production. When Nilsson recorded it, he initially played the song slow and dark, accompanied only by piano. Producer Richard Perry recalled to Mojo magazine April 2008 that he had to persuade an unwilling Nilsson to record it as a big ballad: “I had to force him to take a shot with the rhythm section. Even while we were doing it, he’d be saying to the musicians, ‘This song’s awful.'”

January 15th is a date with some interesting coincidences where Nilsson’s version of this song is concerned. He died on January 15, 1994, the same day Mariah Carey’s version was released, which is also 22 years to the day after his interpretation of “Without You” hit #1 on the US charts.

Badfinger’s original version is under Nilsson’s version

Without You

No I can’t forget this evening or your face as you were leaving
But I guess that’s just the way the story goes
You always smile, but in your eyes
Your sorrow shows
Yes, it shows

No I can’t forget tomorrow
When I think of all my sorrow
When I had you there but then I let you go
And now it’s only fair that I should let you know
What you should know

I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore
I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t give
I can’t give anymore

Well, I can’t forget this evening or your face as you were leaving
But I guess that’s just the way the story goes
You always smile, but in your eyes
Your sorrow shows
Yes, it shows

I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore
I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore

No no no no I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore
I can’t live

 

Badfinger – Baby Blue

Baby Blue never gets old to me…it is the perfect powerpop song. It has the right combination of crunch and pop with an irresistible guitar riff. I love the way they used the song in Breaking Bad that fit the scene perfectly. The song peaked at #14 in the Billboard 100 in 1972. The “Dixie” in the song was Pete Ham’s ex-girlfriend, Dixie Armstrong.

peteham&babyblue

Dixie Armstrong and Pete Ham…I got this picture from http://soref.tv/the-true-story-behind-badfingers-baby-blue/

The song came off of the album “Straight Up” that also contained the hit “Day After Day” and it is considered by many their best album. I’m happy that Breaking Bad showcased this song so that another generation knows the song and hopefully that will lead more to learn about Badfinger.

Baby Blue

Guess I got what I deserved
Kept you waiting there too long, my love
All that time without a word
Didn’t know you’d think that I’d forget or I’d regret
The special love I had for you, my baby blue

All the days became so long
Did you really think, I’d do you wrong?
Dixie, when I let you go
Thought you’d realize that I would know
I would show the special love I have for you, my baby blue

What can I do, what can I say
Except I want you by my side
How can I show you, show me the way
Don’t you know the times I’ve tried?

guitar solo

Guess that’s all I have to say
Except the feeling just grows stronger every day
Just one thing before I go
Take good care, baby, let me know, let it grow
The special love you have for me, my Dixie, dear.

Badfinger

Badfinger was a very talented band that had a gift and curse of sounding like The Beatles. Their songs are remembered today but not the band which is a shame. They made some very good albums. This band’s story is a cautionary tale that other bands need to look at. This is what signing with a bad manager can do to you.

The members were Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Mike Gibbins, and Joey Molland (who replaced Ron Griffiths).

They started out as the Iveys and signed with the Beatles new label…Apple. After that, they changed their name to Badfinger. Paul McCartney wrote their first big hit single”Come and Get It” and after that, they were writing themselves. The hits kept coming… No Matter What, Baby Blue and Day after Day. They also wrote Without You…a small blues song that Harry Nilson covered…it became a monster worldwide hit. Mariah Carey also covered it later on and was again a giant hit.

They signed with a manager named Stan Polley and got a massive contract with Warner Brothers after leaving Apple. Things were looking really good. They had hits but they never made it over the hump in being a big-time group. Warner Brothers could have pushed them over the hump…Polley setup an escrow account for the band with the advance money and the money disappeared.

He told the band that he was planning for their future etc..He put them on a small salary and embezzled the rest. He really swindled them and their royalties for their songs were tied up for years.

The band was basically broke. With all of their self-written hits, they should have been set financially for years.

Pete Ham didn’t have the money to pay his mortgage and with a baby on the way drunk and depressed at the fatal age (for rock stars) of 27 he hanged himself in his garage in 1975. In 1983 after scrambling for gigs, Tom Evans broke and not able to get to any of the royalties due him from co-writing Without You with Pete…hanged himself also.

Pete was a trusting soul and never would believe Polley was cheating them until the very end. His suicide note read…

“I will not be allowed to love and trust everybody. This is better  P.S. Stan Polley is a soulless bastard. I will take him with me.”

They all wrote to some degree but Pete Ham was a great songwriter. He had so much potential. He also was a great guitar player and singer.

Stan Polley died in 2009… escaping other scandals without punishment.

Their albums were

Magic Christian Music – This was the soundtrack to the movie The Magic Christian. Come and Get It is on this album and a minor hit called Maybe Tomorrow which is a good pop song.

No Dice – No Dice is where Badfinger starts to be themselves. No Matter What and Without You came off of this album. It also has some other great songs… I Can’t Take It, Blodwyn, We’re for the Dark, Better Days, and my favorite of the album and possibly of Badfinger…Midnight Caller.

Straight Up – This is my favorite album by them. It has Baby Blue and Day after Day but a host of other good songs. Take It All, Money, Name of the Game, Suitcase, Sweet Tuesday Morning, and I’d Die Babe. Joey Molland’s songwriting and singing were very good on this album.

Ass – Their last album for Apple records and the start of the downward spiral. The songs I would recommend are Apple of My Eye and Icicles.

Badfinger – They just signed a new record deal with Warner Brothers and this was the first album. They recorded this album as soon as they finished their previous album Ass for Apple which was too soon. They should have waited a while before recording this album. This album didn’t do well and one of the reasons is because it was competing with their previous album. They were released within months of each other and it. The songs I like are I Miss You and Shine On.

Wish You Were Here – The album was released in late 1974 and was pulled in early 1975 before it had time to do anything because of litigation between their manager and the Warner Brothers. It was released and pulled in a matter of weeks. Warner Brothers saw the money was missing and yanked the album off of the shelves. The songs I like are Dennis and Just a Chance.

Head First – They recorded this album after Wish You Were Here with Bob Jackson after Joey Molland had quit. The album was stuck in limbo for 26 years never released. It wasn’t released until 2000. I went out and bought this the day it was out at Tower Records when I read they were releasing it. On some songs, you can tell they are having problems with their management. The songs that stand out to me Lay Me Down, Hey Mr. Manager, Rock N’ Roll Contract, and Keep Believing. A good album and I wish it would have had a chance at the time.

They did make a couple of albums after Pete died called Airwaves and Say No More. The song Lost Inside Your Love is the only song that approaches the Badfinger early quality.

Without Pete, the biggest talent was gone. That is not a knock on the others but he was just that good. Tom Evans was a good singer, songwriter, musician who worked with Pete well and had a great voice. Joey Molland was a good guitar player, singer, and songwriter. The band didn’t lack talent.

In 1997 a CD was released of Pete Hams demos called 7 Park Avenue. It was various demos from his entire career. A follow up was released in 1999 called Golders Green. The melodies he had rivaled McCartneys. He was an amazing songwriter.

Go out and google Badfinger and more importantly listen to them. This band needs to be remembered.

Baby Blue… Maybe the most perfect power pop song ever.

No Matter What

Day After Day

Midnight Caller

Suitcase

 

A good article on Badfiinger

 

 

Great Power Pop Bands that never got their due…

 

Seems like these bands were either too pop for rock radio or to rock for pop radio…The bands that come to mind are…

Badfinger – The most tragic story of any band in Rock History….although out of this list they did have the most hits… No Matter What, Day After Day Come and Get It and Baby Blue …one of my personal favorites out of many Midnight Caller…and Name of the Game…also  I would have loved to see what Pete Ham could have done later on if he would have lived…. This is the one that many people didn’t know that they wrote. Without You

Big Star – Great songs with great melodies that never caught on that influenced many bands to come after. September Gurls , Thirteen , Ballad of El Goodo In The Street these are just a few. This band should have been massive.

The Raspberries– Great hooks and they had a masterpiece that went unnoticed… Overnight Sensation…One of my favorite songs of all time. Their biggest hit was  Go All The Way. All their songs have great hooks with Carmen’s voice.

The Knack – Good Girls Don’t and of course My Sharona. 

The JayhawksI’m Gonna Make You Love Me , Blue

The Replacements

Who else?

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