Badfinger and Wish You Were Here Get Expanded Editions From Real Gone Music
“Can you feel the change? It’s coming my way.” On “Matted Spam,” Peter Ham sings these words as the Tower of Power-esque horn section blasts its way through the intentional message. Most bands of 1974 could attribute that “change” to be the peace negotiations with The Vietnam War or progression of women’s rights. Or, perhaps, change stemmed from a culmination of global effect from the ‘60s into the ‘70s with a sense of hope in the song’s upbeat soulful nature. Yet, Ham addressed this line as a personal note, using the word “my” to individualize the message, whatever that message was meant to be.
The beginning of Side 2 of the 1974 album Badfinger, did Ham predict the coming fallout due to unfortunate circumstances that plagued them thereafter? At the forefront of the self-titled album, it’s success was cut off at the hands of business and financial wrangling while their follow up, Wish You Were Here succumbed to the aftermath of communicative contractual fallout.
Badfinger – I Miss You
Real Gone Music has gracefully resurrected both albums in extended format to build a comprehensive view of the music in a world where charts and music business ethics cannot get in the way.
As the band was finishing up their work on their album, Ass, manager Stan Polley signed the band to a three-year, six album contract with Warner Bros. The expectation that the band was to release two albums a year. Although potentially lucrative for the band, the transition could not have been at a worse time. Ass and Badfinger came out within the same timeframe, dissolving the album’s credibility to poor chart position and lackluster reviews. This album historically has sat in the shadows of Ass until now.
Badfinger – Matted Spam
Badfinger is a departure from the Beatlemania feel of Straight Up and more towards the power pop that dominated the ‘70s. What this album fails to do is provide some chart topping stand out songs, although “Love Is Easy” and “I Miss You” are the singles. “Shine On” feels like a single that should have happened. But as a whole it is a great representation of encapsulating the essence of rock music from 1972 into 1973.
From Big Star to T. Rex, Badfinger’s “Song for a Lost Friend,” nestles right into the power pop continuum. “Love My Lady” coincides with something The Band, Little Feat, or Exile era Stones would churn out. There is the psych pop of “Where Do We Go From Here?” that feels more like Lennon than McCartney that has shadowed this band into fame. The song is a dreamy-eyed drug haze of ephemeral melodies that is as unique as “Matted Spam.”
As the Warner Bros. contract settled in, so did the consistency with Wish You Were Here. Less experimentation and a greater focus for writing solid material, the album reached new heights garnering the attention they wanted from their previous effort. Fresh from an extensive American tour, the band went into the studio and cranked out 10 songs of unabashed power pop and sincere rock that revolves around the essence of early ‘70s rock culture. The guitar work and big hooks between Ham Joey Mullond shine out from the intro chords of “Just A Chance” that bleed into an exalted Mullond solo. It transforms to the doe-eyed psych country-tinged of “Your So Fine.”
Badfinger – No One Knows
The band exemplifies a preservation of the British spirit on “Know One Knows” and “Love Time,” using the Lennon/McCartney rulebook while putting a Badfinger spin on it. The solidarity with these songs builds a strength that is paralleled with a lifeblood of deep ‘70s philosophy. The highlight to this is closer “Meanwhile Back At The Ranch/Should I Smoke.” Badfinger’s denoument, the song stands up there with T Rex’s “Planet Queen” and Big Star’s “Thirteen.” Badfinger has found a way to celebrate youth while exposing the uncertainty of life’s journey into the unknown.
As soon as Wish You Were Here was released it was practically pulled from shelves because of a lawsuit between the band and Warner Bros. Towards the album’s release, Polley became more uncommunicative with the label, putting a large sum of money in limbo. After a period of silence from him, the label pulled Badfinger from their roster that led to financial ruin and a dreadful suicide by Ham.
Badfinger – Meanwhile Back At The Ranch/Should I Smoke
Now, for the first time, Real Gone Music has given the life this release deserves and every rock connoisseur should have it in their collection. The alternate takes on Wish You Were Here is only icing on the cake. Who knows where this band would have stood if their relationship with Warner Bros. continued. This album showed what they could accomplish on a massive label. For the listener, unfortunately, this is their swan song before the curtains on the 1970s lowered.