On Second Thought: Badfinger – The Best of Badfinger (1995)

Just as the Beatles were breaking up, along comes Badfinger, attacking radio stations everywhere with a song bearing an uncannily resemblance to a prime piece of power pop of the Fab Four variety. The tune we’re talking about is “Come And Get It,” which was indeed imbued with ties to the Beatles, as it was penned and produced by Paul McCartney.

A strong Beatles connection actually loomed large throughout Badfinger’s career. To begin with, the band, who were initially called the Iveys, signed a contract with the group’s Apple Records, and released four full-length albums for the imprint.

Coupled with Badfinger’s label relation, they also, as previously noted, sounded an awful lot like the Beatles. Being compared to John, Paul, George and Ringo is truly a major compliment, but to brand the band clones would be a dire mistake. For one thing, they wrote original material, which was sturdy, imaginative and modern. A special chemistry additionally existed within the band. They were great singers, tight players and really knew how to lock it all together.

Between the years 1970 and 1972, Badfinger harvested a total of four top forty hit singles. Aside from aforementioned “Come And Get It,” this 1995 Capitol Records best-of collection, which centers strictly on the wares the band recorded for the Apple label, duly contains their subsequent chartbusters.

Sprinkled with a smattering of handclaps, punctured by a kicking guitar solo, “No Matter What” romps and rolls with positive energy. As for “Day After Day,” which by the way, George Harrison twiddled the dials on, the lyrical content speaks of loss, but the tempo is perky and the hooks are alive and catchy. The same can be said of “Baby Blue,” a tugging pop rocker mating confessions of failed love with radiant melodies.

Another pick track featured on The Best Of Badfinger is “Without You,” a heart-wrenching ballad torched by a deep and groaning organ passage parallel to that of Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade Of Pale.” The gloomy, but absolutely gorgeous song was brought to the attention of Harry Nilsson, who recorded his own version that scorched the airwaves in 1972. A few decades down the road, Mariah Carey rehashed the tune and netted a big hit as well.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Badfinger had its share of hits after signing to Apple Records — and also, as the band's last surviving member Joey Molland remembers, more than its share of tragedy.]

Ignited by chugging rhythms, “Better Days” and “Rock Of All Ages” tilt towards the boogie edge of the pond, while the bright and beautiful “Maybe Tomorrow” climaxes into a dazzling demonstration of towering choruses.

Clean, crisp and dripping with sparkle, “Dear Angie,” “Midnight Caller” and “Carry On Till Tomorrow” are further examples of Badfinger’s flair for fathering rich and vibrant pop statements. Firm arrangements, amplified by delirious harmonies, supple guitar licks and neat piano work gave the band’s intricately crafted songs character and authority.

Despite the excellent offerings and the reviews to match, Badfinger soon fell into despair. Apple Records bit the dust, and although the band quickly inked a deal with the Warner Brothers label, typical music business problems ultimately arose and frustration ensued. But the tragedy continued, with members Pete Ham and Tom Evans both committing suicide.

The band’s catalog is stuffed with classics, and many of these gems have been covered by a wide spectrum of artists. But as the title of the disc proclaims, The Best Of Badfinger presents the peak hours.

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 on the national charts with "Stand By Me" - which is ironically one of her favorite songs, especially the version by John Lennon. She has also contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Paterson's own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.