Today’s Playlist: Peter Ham’s Dream

Peter Ham Totale’s Lost Classic review of Badfinger’s Straight Up has had me on an early 70s power pop rave up. In order to fulfill my need for lush melodies, sly guitar solos, and backbeat drums, I’ve compiled a playlist of the bands surrounding Badfinger’s legacy: Peter Ham’s Dream (re-read the heartbreaking story of the Badfinger front man on Wikipedia).

There’s naturally a gang of Badfinger on this mix. If you’re going to wear your influences on your sleeves then do it with vigor! Be proud and be true to their vision…and yours. While too many will dismiss Badfinger as a poor man’s Fab Four, I revel in their absolute and unflinching embrace of the Beatles‘ later-day sound. They were, after all, disciples of the Fabs so why not be true to that musical message? It’s that musical legacy, as translated by followers for decades to come, that this mix is celebrating.

In mixes like this I prefer to use a band as a point of reference; the point from which the musical personality is derived. Instead of the Beatles as the point in this case, I like the focus being once removed from the source. Bands like Sloan and Spoon are as much influenced by Badfinger (the second layer in the scheme) as they are the Beatles (the primary source). That’s the point. To me it’s just as valid to create new music that shares more of a sonic palette with your influences than not. How that influence is translated and communicated down through the various layers is what allows for the continuity of sound as well as originality in execution. Can you dig it?

The recently departed Jay Reatard summed it up so perfectly in this New York Times article from August, 2009 interview:

The whole concept for me behind pop music is to take your influences and filter them through yourself, and then they become something new. I’m not trying to move forward and create territory that hasn’t been mined before, I’m just trying to do my version of something that I like.

Amen, brother.


Bands included in Peter Ham’s Dream:

• The Bealtes and their early 70s solo output

• Badfinger

• Big Star and related solo output, including Chris Bell’s I Am the Cosmos and Alex Chilton’s 1970

• ELO

• Sloan

• Oasis

• Elliott Smith

• The Apples in Stereo

• The Chamber Strings

• Waxwings

• Spoon

Make your own…

The Beatles: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Badfinger: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Sloan: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Spoon: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Elliott Smith: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Big Star: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

The Waxwings: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Apples in Stereo: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

7 thoughts on “Today’s Playlist: Peter Ham’s Dream”

  1. The whole concept for me behind pop music is to take your influences and filter them through yourself, and then they become something new. I’m not trying to move forward and create territory that hasn’t been mined before, I’m just trying to do my version of something that I like.

    Absolutely. My personal credo, indeed.

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