Lost Classics: Badfinger – Straight Up

Badfinger - Straight UpBadfingerStraight Up (Apple/Capitol)

For all the talk about the Beatles remasters, there’s a hefty amount of Apple material that could also use a quick tidying up from their original cd releases of two decades ago. Topping the list wouldn’t be a release by a former Beatle, but instead the band that seemed to be handpicked ambassadors to the Fab Four’s power pop division.

Badfinger was indeed a band that could sound remarkably similar to the Beatles, but it was 1972’s Straight Up that demonstrated how the band could actually compose material that lived up to the Beatles in terms of quality.

It’s here where you can find the band’s two most recognizable songs, “Day After Day” and “Baby Blue.” But the best thing about Straight Up is how you’ll discover that those two awesome songs are packed tightly inside a collection of equally great tunes. It’s also impeccably sequenced, with the slow building “Take It All” introducing the album while its closer “It’s Over,” with its multi-tracked chorus and sweet slide guitar solo, appropriately wrapped up the band’s best album.

You’d never guess it, though, as Rolling Stone magazine inexplicably panned the album, deaf to Straight Up‘s pop charms and attacking the album’s lack of “rock and roll spirit.”

They’re wrong. Straight Up has plenty of rock and roll spirit; it just happens to the spirit that doesn’t jibe with what the R.S. reviewer had in mind from a band that routinely rubbed elbows with the Beatles.

There’s “Suitcase,” the obligatory “touring sucks” song. “Sweet Tuesday Morning,” the obligatory “I’ve been all around the world but you—my lady back home—are still the apple of my eye” ballad. There’s even an eerie foreshadowing of the future financial ills (“Money”) that would plague the band and prompt half of the band’s members to take their own lives.

Yes, Badfinger was a band riddled with tragedy, and it often overshadows just how good they were during their prime. “Don’t you know there’s a song to sing / Keeping us together,” sings vocalist Pete Ham during the bridge of “Take It All,” hinting that Badfinger was still making music out of sheer joy at this point. It would be just a matter of months before they’d be writing music that faced scrutiny for its commercial potential.

With Straight Up, the band hired both a Beatles guitarist (George Harrison) and a Beatles enthusiast (Todd Rundgren) to help trim down the band’s growing repertoire to a handy dozen. But it’s the band’s own musicianship and wonderful chemistry that make Straight Up‘s twelve songs a stunning piece of power-pop and a timeless slice of post-Beatles salvos.

I played Straight Up constantly growing up. It caught the attention of my babysitter, who tried to get me to trade it for John Lennon‘s Mind Games.

I refused; Straight Up stands tall against even the Beatles’ solo efforts while reaching for the band’s lofty mid-period gems.

Video: Badfinger – “Take It All” (live)

Video: Badfinger – “Baby Blue” (Kenny Rogers Show 1972)

Video: Badfinger – “Suitcase” (live, 7+ minutes long!)

Video: Badfinger – “Sweet Tuesday Morning” (Embedding disabled)

Video: Badfinger – “Day After Day” (live)

Badfinger: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

FTC Disclosure: Glorious Noise didn’t receive a damn thing from any artist, label, or publicist for writing this.

5 thoughts on “Lost Classics: Badfinger – Straight Up”

  1. Awesome. Badfinger plays such a big part in the soundtrack of my youth. No mix of early 70s rock is complete without 10cc, Wings, the Eagles, and Badfinger. The latter has the best selection from which to choose.

  2. I think there’s a book on these guys, and I’d love to get my hands on it as the story of Badfinger is so compelling. It may be out of print as every time I seek it out it turns into quite a chore. Joey Molland sounds like quite a prick. Not only did he try to snag the band name away and attempt to undermine founder Pete Ham’s importance, it’s said that an argument between Molland and Tom Evans took place which prompted Evans to take his own life. The subject of the argument? Royalties concerning “Without You,” a song that Molland felt was not generating him enough royalties-even though he wasn’t even a composer on it. Many years after that, Molland took Badfinger on the road and visited the small town I lived in during a summer festival. He was the only member of that original line-up (and even then, he was tapped after the first album) and Molland was visibly intoxicated during the set. What a way to make the name proud.

  3. I have that book about which you speak–if you can find it on Amazon used for $100, snag it. It’s worth it. The author is trying to find a publisher for a new edition (Drummer Mike Gibbins died in 2005 and Kathie Molland, Joey’s wife, died this year….also Stan Polley, their evil manager FINALLY died in July 2009.) I adore Badfinger. Pete was too special for this world. Thanks for keeping their memory alive.

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