Sunday, February 01, 2009

Badfinger - Straight Up (1971)

It's time for another ride on the Wayback Machine to visit another old forgotten LP. This time it's Straight Up, Badfinger's third album, one of the best British pop-rock albums of its day. While most of the world has forgotten Badfinger and this record, it has always stayed with me and easily makes my list of the 100 best abums of all time. The disc is full of Beatlesque influenced pop produced by George Harrison and Todd Rundgren. It became the biggest selling non-Beatle album ever released by Apple Records.

Badfinger is probably best known for recording Paul McCartney's "Come and Get It," released on their first LP, in which the band was rightly faulted for sounding like a Beatles clone. Their second album, No Dice (1970), maintained an obvious Beatles influence, but the quartet was now writing their own songs and injected just enough of their own personality and creativity into their music to make people sit up and listen. No longer considered a poor man's Beatles, Badfinger was now being hailed for their own originality. The album features the great hit single "No Matter What," the original version of "Without You," a tune that later became a huge hit for Harry Nilsson in 1972, and "We're For the Dark," a song that could have been a hit if it had been released as a single.

Then came Straight Up. Featuring the big hits "Day After Day" and "Baby Blue" the album provided Badfinger with everything musicians wanted: popularity and critical acclaim. The band combined pleasant melodies, fine musicianship, great singing, and, best of all, a flair for original composition and arranging. Other great songs on this album include "Money" (not the Motown song later covered by the Beatles), "Suitcase," "Sweet Tuesday Morning," "Sometimes," and "Perfection."

Unfortunately everything fell apart shortly afterward, not because of a lack of talent, but by the implosion of Apple and Badfinger's mismanagement of their own business affairs. They continued to make albums, but by 1975 the first of the quartet's two suicides, partially stemming from their business related problems, stopped the group in its tracks. A few years later they reunited but a second suicide effectively ended their career. There have been a couple of reunions for the oldies circuit but, for all intents and purposes, Badfinger is mostly a relic of British pop.

Straight Up should be heard by all who enjoy clever mainstream rock and roll with a distinctly English flavor. Although No Dice is also worth hearing, if you only buy one, Straight Up should be your choice. You can still buy it on CD at Amazon.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the ride on the Wayback Machine. Straight Up is and outstanding album!

    ReplyDelete
  2. EXCELLENT classic rock album! I am going to listen to it tonight, thanks!

    ReplyDelete