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Beyond “Baby Blue”: Edsel Collects Badfinger Albums, BBC Sessions

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Badfinger - EdselAn estimated ten million people watched the September 29 series finale of AMC’s Breaking Bad, with a memorable final scene set to Badfinger’s “Baby Blue.”   By the following morning, the Pete Ham song produced by Todd Rundgren for the 1971 Apple Records release Straight Up had been downloaded more than 5,000 times – boosting its sales by some 3,000 percent!  “Baby Blue” remained in the iTunes Top 20 for next two days.  It also racked up roughly 30,000 downloads over the following week, conferring hit status once again upon the song which reached No. 14 on the Billboard chart in 1972.  With Badfinger back in the spotlight, there couldn’t be a better time for Edsel to release a compendium of the band’s two albums for Warner Bros. Records and a disc of live BBC performances.  On October 28, the Demon Music Group label unveils Badfinger/Wish You Were Here/In Concert at the BBC 1972-3 on two CDs.

Following five albums for The Beatles’ Apple label (including one as The Iveys in 1969), the hitmaking band behind “Come and Get It” and “Day After Day” decamped their fab home for the Warner Bros. label.  The quartet of Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland and Mike Gibbins announced their artistic rebirth by titling the album, simply, Badfinger.  Producer Chris Thomas resumed work with the group in 1973 shortly after completing Apple swansong Ass, which was released in November 1973 in the U.S. and March 1974 abroad.  Badfinger’s arrival actually preceded the U.K. release of Ass, arriving in stores in February 1974.  Consisting entirely of group originals, the album nonetheless failed to ignite the charts.  Molland’s “Love is Easy,” released in the U.K. as a single, failed to make the charts.  The choice for the American market, Ham’s “I Miss You,” also missed the mark.  With the band also engaged in litigation with Apple, Badfinger didn’t stand much of a chance.  It peaked at No. 161 on the Billboard 200, becoming the group’s lowest-charting LP.

Undeterred, Badfinger regrouped with Thomas in the spring of 1974 at the famed Caribou Ranch in Colorado, the same studio where Elton John, Chicago and The Beach Boys all called home at one time or another.  The album eventually titled Wish You Were Here would be the band’s second and last album for Warner Bros., as well as the final album by the original foursome.  With just nine tracks all written by band members, Wish You Were Here was received more favorably than its predecessor upon its November 1974 release.  Today, some pundits even consider it Badfinger’s best, most cohesive LP.  But just weeks after its release, the album was pulled as a result of another lawsuit, this time between Warner Bros. and the band’s management.  It did make the Billboard chart at No. 148, besting Badfinger’s performance but hardly restoring the group to chart supremacy.

Wish You Were Here marked the end of the classic iteration of the group.  Joey Molland quit Badfinger following a strife-filled tour; Ham, Evans and Gibbins joined with Bob Jackson (a brief replacement for Ham when he briefly quit following Wish You Were Here) in December 1974 to create the Head First album which went unreleased until 2000.  (Produced by Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise of KISS fame, Head First was reportedly accepted by Warner’s recording division in Los Angeles, but a dispute with Warner’s publishing arm derailed it from release.)  Pete Ham committed suicide in 1975, dashing hopes of any subsequent reunions.  Evans and Molland picked up the pieces in 1979 with musicians Joe Tansin and Kenny Harck, reforming Badfinger for Airwaves on Warner Bros.’ sister label Elektra.  A different line-up of Molland, Evans, Tony Kaye, Glenn Sherba and Richard Bryans issued Say No More in 1981 on the Radio label, the final new album to bear the Badfinger moniker.  Two years later, Tom Evans also took his own life.

Edsel’s upcoming release contains Badfinger and Wish You Were Here on one CD.  The second disc includes all of the 2007 release In Concert at the BBC 1972-3.  Hit the jump for more details, plus the full track listing and pre-order links!

A number of Badfinger archival recordings arrived on CD have been issued since the 1990s, including multiple volumes of Pete Ham’s demos, 1990’s Day After Day: Live recorded in 1974, and 1997’s In Concert at the BBC 1972-3.  This 15-track volume, originally released on the Strange Fruit label, contains two seven-song performances taped for the BBC on June 8, 1972 and August 10, 1973 plus one bonus song.  It’s reprised in full as the second CD of Edsel’s new set.  Oddly, few of the group’s hits are present – “No Matter What,” “Day After Day,” “Without You” (a No. 1 for Harry Nilsson) and “Baby Blue” are all absent.  The 1972 concert draws on a repertoire from No Dice and Straight Up plus a couple of Dave Mason covers; the 1973 broadcast also tapped Ass and the as-of-then-unreleased Badfinger.  Joey Molland’s “Suitcase” was performed during both programs.  The original CD’s bonus track (a 1970 performance of the Paul McCartney-penned “Come and Get It” recorded for Top of the Pops) is not included here.

Badfinger/Wish You Were Here/In Concert at the BBC 1972-3 arrives in stores on October 28 in the U.K. and one week later in the U.S., and you can pre-order at the links below!

Badfinger, Badfinger/Wish You Were Here/In Concert at the BBC 1972-3 (Edsel, 2013) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

CD 1:

  1. I Miss You
  2. Shine On
  3. Love is Easy
  4. Song for a Lost Friend
  5. Why Don’t We Talk?
  6. Island
  7. Matted Spam
  8. Where Do We Go From Here
  9. My Heart Goes Out
  10. Lonely You
  11. Give It Up
  12. Andy Norris
  13. Just a Chance
  14. You’re So Fine
  15. Got to Get Out of Here
  16. Know One Knows
  17. Dennis
  18. In the Meantime/Some Other Time
  19. Love Time
  20. King of the Load (T)
  21. Meanwhile Back at the Ranch/Should I Smoke

Tracks 1-12 from Badfinger, Warner Bros. LP BS 2762, 1974
Tracks 13-21 from Wish You Were Here, Warner Bros. LP BS 2827, 1974

CD 2

  1. Better Days
  2. Only You Know and I Know
  3. We’re for the Dark
  4. Sweet Tuesday Mornin’
  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

All tracks from BBC In Concert 1972-73, Strange Fruit CD SFRSCD031, 1997

Written by Joe Marchese

October 24, 2013 at 10:39

Posted in Badfinger, News, Reissues

15 Responses

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  1. I am an absolutely GARGANTUAN Badfinger fan–along with Thin Lizzy, they’re my favorite band EVAH–but I’m a little concerned about this reissue. I would’ve normally ordered it the nanosecond it was announced, but I can’t find any details about the mastering, which is pretty much all-important for me. I already have the Collector’s Choice editions of the two WB albums mastered by Bob Fisher, and they don’t sound particularly bad. Maybe not as good as they could sound, but not terrible, either. I also have the original BBC disc. So I’m definitely gonna hold back until some reviews come out. Do any Edsel insiders out there have the skinny on the mastering?

    Chief Brody

    October 24, 2013 at 11:03

    • what’s the best CD version of Ass? I have the original vinyl. Cheers to Bad-finguh!

      scarecrowbike

      October 24, 2013 at 11:15

      • The 2010 remaster has five pretty cool bonus tracks, including “Do You MInd,” one of the truly great “lost” classics by the band. It’s one of the best things they ever did, IMHO. The 2010 pressing sounds pretty darn nice to me. A friend of mine thinks it’s too loud, and maybe it’s a tad loud-ish, but it’s got great presence and detail and air, and I don’t find it fatiguing at all. The 1990s remaster, which also contains “Do You Mind,” isn’t quite as forward maybe, but it also doesn’t have the detail, immediacy, or openness of the remaster. I guess it all depends on which side of the mastering fence one comes down on. Sound quality is a very personal and subjective thing. I like both, but the 2010 is the one I play the most.

        Chief Brody

        October 24, 2013 at 11:30

  2. Thanks Chief! I’ll look for it locally [even with Amazon Prime, $15.50 seems to high…]. I think I would appreciate the high end improvement over my 40 year old vinyl 😉 [Whoa, has it been that long?]

    scarecrowbike

    October 24, 2013 at 14:02

    • No worries, Scare. Good luck! I’m sure you can find it for less than $15.50. Check eBay or Half.com. ImportCDs might even have it for less. Those are the places that come immediately to mind.

      Yeah, I didn’t think 40 years until you mentioned it! Man, I normally feel old, but now I feel REALLY old. Thanks for that, LOL! 🙂

      “Ass” is really a great record. I never quite understood many of the tepid reviews. Most bands would sacrifice a body part to produce an album that good!

      Chief Brody

      October 24, 2013 at 14:11

  3. “Wish You Were Here” is every bit as good as “Straight Up” but I think I’ve played it more than “Straight Up” over the decades. It’s a shame that it got pulled from the market because of that weasel of a manager Stan Polley stole the band’s money from their account. I hope Pete and Tom are kicking his butt every day but I doubt if he went to the same place as they did! I agree with Chief Brody about the fidelity of the Collectors Choice remasters. They’re ok but not much better than the other cd releases over the years. The best quality version of “Wish You Were Here” that I’ve ever heard was the Warner Bros. promotional copy of the original album. It sounded even better than the commercial copy and was a slightly different mix.

    Ernie

    October 24, 2013 at 18:06

    • WYWH is probably my favorite Badfinger album. It just boggles my mind that a record THAT friggin’ brilliant never had a chance in the marketplace because of management so heinously crooked that it almost defies the human vocabulary. There’s no hell hot enough for Stan Polley. Personally, I rank the record as one of the very best guitar pop albums ever made. And I don’t say that lightly.

      I used to own a promo copy on LP, and it sounded quite good from what I recall.

      Chief Brody

      October 24, 2013 at 18:44

  4. I’ve long hoped that Rhino, as an arm of Warner Brothers, would do something with the WB Badfinger albums – say a remixed double CD with the two released albums, “Head First,” and studio outtakes. I don’t know how likely that is, though, given how Rhino has scaled back in recent years.

    It’s good to see the BBC concerts back in print, but I’d like to see a release of the Iveys’ BBC performances and other recordings. The proto-Badfinger recorded relentlessly, but very few band recordings (as opposed to solo demos) have emerged, despite rumors of impending releases every few years. Legal hassles may be involved, but that’s just a guess, based on the band’s litigious history. I hope they work something out while Ron Griffiths is still around.

    Steve Bruun

    October 24, 2013 at 20:25

    • Hey Steve, Rhino did a comp of the Warner Bros. tracks and included unreleased tracks and called it “Best Of Volume 2” because there had been an import best of released over in Europe called “Shine On”. The Rhino cd is still in print and available on Amazon. Here’s the link.

      Ernie

      October 25, 2013 at 00:03

      • P.S. The Rhino release didn’t sound any better than any of the imports did.

        Ernie

        October 25, 2013 at 00:07

      • Just beware that the edition being sold on Amazon now of VOLUME 2 is a “manufactured on demand” CD-R. Even if purchasing from a Marketplace seller, I would advise double-checking to make sure you receive the original, pressed CD with booklet, etc.

        Joe Marchese

        October 25, 2013 at 00:39

      • Thanks Ernie! I almost mentioned that compilation in my post, but it was getting wordy. I suppose what I meant to say was: I wish the label had gone “full Rhino” with expanded reissues of the complete albums (like they did with the Monkees’ catalog). Vol.II’s inclusion of then-unreleased tracks was a plus at the time, but made redundant by the release of “Head First” (which, to my ears, sounded slightly better than the excerpts on the Rhino CD).

        Steve Bruun

        October 25, 2013 at 07:32

  5. One minor correction….Pete Ham passed away in 1975, not 1976.

    mackdaddyg

    October 25, 2013 at 08:27

    • He passed away on my eighth birthday. My older cousin, who was a DJ in NYC at the time, wound up giving me a copy of “No Dice” for my b-day present! (He told me the news about Pete a couple of days later.) I always found that more than a bit eerie, given that I wound up becoming a Badfinger fanatic. Makes one wonder how the cosmos works sometimes. 🙂

      Chief Brody

      October 25, 2013 at 09:27

  6. Intital review of the Edsel from a guy who knows the group’s history and catalog very well. Not particularly encouraging. As huge a Badfinger fan as I am, I’m still gonna take a pass on this, as I already have the Collector’s Choice and Strange Fruit issues. Poor band can’t catch a break even in the reissue afterlife. 😦

    http://badfinge.ipower.com/Badfinger/Badfinger_albums/BadfingerWishYouWereHereBBC_Edsel.html

    Chief Brody

    October 29, 2013 at 05:04


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