Thursday, September 1, 2016

Badfinger - Wish You Were Here

This is more like it.  The last time I wrote about a Badfinger album, I slammed their 1973 album, Ass.  I said then that only four of that album’s ten songs were really worth a damn.    But Wish You Were Here [1974] is a very good piece of work.  Pete Ham awakened from the slumber that seemed to grip him during the making of Ass.  Every song of his on this album is a winner.  Joey Molland contributed more good songs than not for this album.  Even drummer Mike Gibbins gets in on the act.  With Your So Fine and his contribution to In the Meantime/Some Other Time, he atones for the lamentable Cowboy from Ass.  Tom Evans contributes only one song, the merits of which are debatable.  He’s done better. Maybe it was his turn to slumber.  

Just a Chance [Ham] – This one storms right out the gate and sets an energetic tone for the rest of the album. It’s unusually fast-paced for a Pete Ham song, but it doesn’t sound rushed and it works.

You’re So Fine [Gibbin] – Very tasty guitar playing here from Pete Ham and Joey Molland.  

Got to Get Out of Here [Molland] – It’s not a dull love song.  It has just an acoustic guitar and an organ, with some tambourine percussion.  This is a bit of foreshadowing as Molland left Badfinger after Wish You Were Here’s release.  

Know One Knows [Ham] – A bad pun in the title, but excellent power pop from Pete Ham.  There’s an interlude where some Japanese woman is mumbling something that gives the song a bit of a twist, but the moment passes quickly enough.  

Dennis [Ham] – For me, it’s a toss-up whether this one or Just a Chance is the best song on the album.  It’s a piano-driven song with great sounding soaring guitars in the mix.  For Badfinger, this is perfection.  

In the Meantime/Some Other Time [Gibbins/Molland] – This one is a piano/guitar driven number with an orchestra.  As I said earlier, when Joey Molland writes a good song, it’s very good.  This one follows that rule.  This one has “Electric Light Orchestra” written all over it.  Here, this is a good thing.   

Meanwhile Back At The Ranch/Should I Smoke [Ham/Molland] – A good album closer.  This is really two songs [one each from Pete Ham and Joey Molland] spliced together to make a single song, not unlike some of the medley songs from Abbey Road.  This ends WYWH with a bang.  

Skip tracks
Love Time [Molland] – another love song from Joey Molland.  I’m glad he loved his wife, but his songs about her/to her bore me.  

King of the Load (T) [Evans] – I’m sorry, songs that feature a Fender Rhodes electric piano as the lead instrument scream “lounge music.”  This one is no exception.  A guitar solo from Pete Ham almost saves it, though.  Thankfully, it’s under three minutes.  

Badfinger were never ones to do things the easy way, Wish You Were Here has a sordid back story as did Straight Up and Ass before it.    Wish You Were Here would be the last album released by the Ham/Evans/Molland/Gibbins quartet.  Joey Molland left the band shortly after the album’s release.  The album itself was on sale for only a few weeks before Warner Brothers pulled it off the shelves.  They made this move because Badfinger’s manager Stan Polley embezzled all of the advance money provided to the band when they signed with the label.  Wish You Were Here just disappeared.  Only in the last few years has it been available for purchase {I got my copy about three years ago].  The band didn’t see a penny of Warner Brothers’ advance.  Quickly after Wish You Were Here’s release, the remaining members of the band recorded Head First. Warner Brothers refused to release it.  The band lost all contact with their manager.  With no money to pay for his new house and no way for him to release his music to the public in order to make money, Pete Ham saw no way out of his situation and committed suicide on April 24, 1975, just a couple of days short of his 28th birthday.  He left a suicide note that 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.”  Stan Polley is now dead.  I hope he rots in Hell.


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