HAPPY 61st TO BADFINGER'S TORCHBEARER
The story of Badfinger tends to focus on the missed opportunities, the legal and financial morass and the sad deaths of two of their main songwriters, but step back from the conflict and listen to the music and one is swiftly reminded of why they were one of the first signings to Apple Records. The Beatles connection was a blessing and a curse, a shadow that both suited them and obscured their own talents. Still, as much as any of post-Beatles solo albums by the Fab Four, Badfinger's catalog serves as a continuing inspiration for future melodic rock aspirants, each long player a textbook in smart, almost classic songwriting and solid-as-stone playing and production. More bluntly, they just sound good on a fundamental level.
Joey Molland joined Badfinger for the second album, No Dice (1970), which really serves as the band's proper debut after the cobbled together soundtrack to deliciously twisted '60s film The Magic Christian, which starred Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. Molland was brought in as lead guitarist but quickly became the group's third strong compositional voice – a creative foil for bassist Tom Evans (who committed suicide in 1983) and a nice contrast to the opulent sweetness of Pete Ham (who took his own life in 1975). Molland was the creator of beloved album cuts, creepers like "I'd Die Babe" and "Suitcase" that await those only familiar with Badfinger's FM staples like "No Matter What" and "Day After Day." One also hears Molland's work on period classics like John Lennon's Imagine and George Harrison's All Things Must Pass as well being part of the backing band on the landmark The Concert For Bangla Desh.
Molland turns 61 today, and despite the slings & arrows of Badfinger purists, he continues to tour under the Badfinger banner, the last man standing from a tumultuous, massively skilled unit. Molland has much of the "let's put on a show" moxie of long runners like Nick Lowe and Paul Carrack (Ace, Squeeze, Mike & The Mechanics) – boys who just want to plug in and play any pub or pavilion that'll have 'em. He has toured with Ringo Starr's traveling circus and is currently part of the Hippiefest tour. Most nights there's a Tigger-esque bounce to the man, and it's rare those around him, musicians and audience alike, don't have a fine time if he's playing. A happy, happy birthday to ya, Joey. Keep that naughty digit raised just as long as they good Lord let's you!
Eye Candy offers three primo slices of Molland's handiwork, beginning with a pretty version of "Sweet Tuesday Morning" from Nashville Now in 1988. And jump over here for a vintage take on the tune.
Here's roadhouse jumper "Better Days" done in a particularly sprightly style.
We wrap this week's installment with a hard, rollicking "Suitcase" that's just shy of 8 minutes!
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