Badfinger -Suitcase

This song was on their Straight Up album but it’s when they were live it came alive. They have a terrific groove going on and Pete wails on the solo. This was Badfinger live as they ventured out of power pop into a jam band. The live version of the band is much different than the studio version.

This song was going to be the B side to Name of the Game issued as a single but Apple never released it. The song has a power pop base but with hard electric on top and it changes the dynmaic of it.

Making the Straight Up album was no easy task. They started off with Geoff Emerick (he produced their last album and engineered several Beatle albums) producing them. The songs were rejected by the Apple’s head of US operations Allan Steckler. George Harrison thought a lot of Badfinger, especially Pete Ham and wanted Name of the Game to be released as a single before the album.  George then started to produce the band himself. He worked with them and they started to make progress. He played slide with Pete on the hit Day After Day and Leon Russell played piano.

They were making great progress but then the  Bangladesh concert came up and George was distracted. He handed off the producing to Todd Rundgren. The band and Rundgren didn’t mix well but he finished producing it in two weeks. The members were much happier with George who actually listened to their ideas.

It was a great album but one of the complaints from the band was it lost a lot of rawness and energy after Rundgren mixed it.

Going through three producers…it’s a wonder it’s as good as it is.

The Studio version is the second video but I would reccomend the live version…and I don’t do that a lot.

Suitcase

Suitcase, suitcase, follow me ’round
Bootlace, bootlace, tie me down
Money for fun, yeah, golden crown
It’s all inside a game we’ve been playing for so long

Driver, driver, go too fast
Miser, miser, make it last
Pusher, pusher, on the run
It’s all inside a game we’ve been playing for so long

And I’m sorry to be leavin’
Yeah, that’s all I get to say
‘Cause I’m sorry to be leavin’ today

[guitar solo (Pete Ham)]

Well I’m sorry to be leavin’
But that’s all I get to say
‘Cause I’m sorry to be leaving today

(Driver drive)

Driver, driver, go too fast
Miser, miser, make it last
Pusher, pusher, on the run
It’s all inside a game we’ve been playing so long

So long

Badfinger – Baby Blue

This is my ninth song pick for Hanspostcard’s song draft. Badfinger’s Baby Blue.

The holy trinity of power pop for me are…Badfinger, Big Star, and The Raspberries…those were the 70s  pioneers. Badfinger was the most successful out of the three…hit wise anyway. You can hear later bands like Cheap Trick, The Posies, Teenage Fanclub, Matthew Sweet,  and even KISS get something from each three.

My love for this song is so over the top. Baby Blue, to these ears, is the perfect power pop song. It has the right combination of the hard British crunch and pop with an irresistible guitar riff. Lets talk about that guitar riff. I know there are other good rock riffs but the perfection in this one is sensational. He plays a variant of it through the song always changing plus a walk down or two. Nothing is purely defined and that is just pure brilliance. The solo is simple but fits perfectly. No nuance in this song is wasted…it was in there for the good of the song…not meant to be flashy.

It’s a hook here, a hook there, and a hook everywhere…and…I’ve been hooked since I first heard it. Everything blends. Even the ending is perfect. On top of that it was produced by a power pop guy Todd Rundgren.

You can hear a young Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick listening and learning from this.

I had gone through Han’s entire album draft without mentioning my name sake…Badfinger…I’m here to rectify that now. I learned about Badfinger as a wee young kid who thought “Come and Get It” was a long lost Beatle song. I found out more about them and bought the album Straight Up. I liked many of their album cuts more than their hits.

As they went along they started to move away from the power pop genre because of the too close Beatle connection. During live performances they sorta became a jam band. Later on they made some excellent albums that no one heard because of a manager who would make Allen Klein (Satan, snake, etc) look good. Arguably the most tragic story in rock and roll…but that is for another day. We are looking now at Badfinger in 1972 before the rug got pulled out from underneath them.

A year ago or so I posted a ranking of my favorite power pop songs. This one was at the top of my list before I wrote it, during the process of writing it, and is still at the top. The others have changed places depending on my mood but not this one.

The song peaked at #14 in the Billboard 100 in 1972. The “Dixie” in the song was Pete Ham’s ex-girlfriend, Dixie Armstrong whom he’d met during the band’s US tour of 1971. Dixie was from Wichita Kansas (thanks run-sew-read).

The song was revitalized again in the great show Breaking Bad. I’m happy that Breaking Bad showcased this song so that another generation knows the song and hopefully that will lead more people to learn about Badfinger. After the show’s finale with this song…the song entered the charts again.

*** Here is the clip from Breaking Bad…but warning…it has a major spoiler for those who haven’t watched it.

Or you can watch them below that with an awkwardly cool Kenny Rogers introducing them. The music is not live but the vocals are…they are playing to a backing track…but listen to those live voices….although they are mic’d up so they are probably playing low along with the backing track.

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 – Name Of The Game…Sunday Album Cut

This song was off the album Straight Up which is in my top 5 of power pop albums.

George Harrison helped produce and mix this  album and was impressed by this song. It was earmarked to be the first single off the album. That got cancelled. Not that the song couldn’t be a single because it is that good. Day After Day and Baby Blue were the first two singles and I can’t fault George for that.

There were many possible singles from this album. Suitcase, Sweet Tuesday Morning, Take It All and I’d Die Babe are songs that could have been considered.

If you are new to Badfinger and would like to start with an album that is not a greatest hits package…Straight Up is the album to purchase.

Name of the Game

I saw the railway master and I looked him in the eye
I said, “Would you go much faster if you thought that you would die?”
He said, “Not me sir, I could not care, in fact, I would not try.
For protest would not take me far.
It’s different, me not being a star.”
I lock my feelings in a jar until another day

Oh, comfort me, dear brother, won’t you tell me what you know?
For somewhere in this painful world is a place where I can go
Oh, long awaiting mother, is it time to make a show?
And take your babies to your breast
No, we never passed the test
And all our sins should be confessed before we carry on

[CHORUS:]
Oh, don’t refuse me
If you choose me, you’ll follow my shame
No, don’t confuse me
For I know it’s the name of the game

I got up off my pillow and I looked up at the sun
I said, “You can see quite clearly, now, the things that we have done
We burned your sacred willow and our battles we have won.
But did we get so very far?
It’s different, me not being a star.”
I lock my feelings in a jar until we go away

[CHORUS x2]

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

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