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Badfinger were masters of melancholic power pop, and a band with a tragic history. Originally called 'The Iveys' the band were signed to The Beatles Apple label and quickly found fame with the single 'Come and Get It' penned by McCartney himself. Badfinger became associated with The Beatles over this period playing on Harrison's 'All Things Must Pass' album as well as Ringo Starr's massive hit 'It Don't Come Easy'.
Their fourth and last album for Apple was 'Ass' which featured a cover with a donkey and a carrot indicating the lucrative record contract they were about to enter with Warner Brothers. Badfinger's financial troubles caused immense stress for its two founder members Pete Ham and Tom Evans who later both killed themselves. Ham's brilliant songwriting is his lasting testament to the world of music and he will be sorely missed.
Ass continues that Beatles sound, but Badfinger had a distinct sound of their own. They were more than a Beatles copy act and produced some amazing songs of sheer brilliance, which this album clearly displays.
Apple of My Eye
An obvious dig at the failing Apple records opens the album and is a fantastic piece of melancholy from the hand of Pete Ham. This and the brilliant 'Day After Day' from Straight Up are particular favourites of mine. Badfinger had great vocal harmonies and they are particularly evident on this song. As too are the great musicianship and the tightness of the group at the peak of their powers.
Get Away is a rollicking good tune, reminiscent of Slade more than the Fab Four. With a great guitar/piano intro. I disagree with a lot of reviews I've read of Ass that describe it as mediocre and stumbling, yes songs like Get Away have a rockier sound, but that's no bad thing for a band like Badfinger.
With slightly twee lyrics, the lead vocal on Icicles are very distinctive which gives the song a great quality of sound.
Another rocker here, again sounding much more like Bowie or Slade than anything that The Beatles had released. In fact, I would argue that this album is far superior to 'Red Rose Speedway' (Wings) and Mind Games (Lennon) both released at the same time as this album.
Blind Owl keeps with the 'live' sound of the album and is another rocker with some pretty strange lyrics.
Probably the hardest rocker on the album, it bears quite a lot of similarity with Jimi Hendrix actually and sounds really good pumped up really loud!
When I Say
A slow acoustic number that brings the album back down to ground. When I Say doesn't really boast great lyrics, but does have a good sound to it which again showcases the group's tight-knit vocal harmonies. It also boasts a killer guitar solo.
Here Badfinger go country, even employing a strange Rolf Harris style wobbleboard! I reminded me a bit of the Embrace song 'Hooligan' from a few years back.
Can I Love You
Can I Love You is again another great sombre song from Joey Molland. It again brings back the raw emotion that Badfinger managed to bring to the fore in their songwriting.
Another great Pete Ham track, here quite a lot like The Fab Four's 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)' in style, but is a great closer to a great album
It's such a shame that Badfinger were so badly treated in the late 60's and 70's by some poor management, and as being the natural successors to The Beatles. They had a distinctive melancholic sound, but also could rock out when needed. 'Ass' isn't their best album, I thing 'Straight Up' can claim that title (and I would argue that its as good as any of the later Beatles albums), but it does contain some great songs. This is the band that released the oft-covered 'Without You' and here bring some more of that style of ballad to the table.
It's such a shame that Badfinger's history is so mired with tragedy, but with albums like 'Ass' their songs are just out their waiting to be rediscovered.
Ass is available now from amazon.co.uk for the ludicrous price of £50, but I'm sure some hunting around and you'll get it for much cheaper.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Apple Of My Eye
2 Get Away
5 Blind Owl
7 When I Say
9 Can I Love You
11 Do You Mind