by Harold Bronson
Rolling Stone , 1971
Los Angeles -- Badfinger started out five years ago as the Iveys, who soft-rocked around small clubs in London and recorded about 100 of their own songs in a home studio. But: they happened to know Mal Evans, the Beatle roadie and friend, and their manager knew Paul McCartney. So when Apple Records was formed, the Iveys became one of the label's first artists, along with Mary Hopkins and James Taylor.
In 1969, they recorded "Maybe Tomorrow," a pretty, sentimental ballad, and they had a hit-a small one, maybe number 50 on the charts here. Then they decided to replace the Fifties-inspired "lveys," and, thanks to Evans, they had Badfinger.
Their first big hit was "Come and Get It," written by Paul McCartney. "Paul," said bassist Tom Evans, "was asked to write the score for The Magic Christian. He only wrote the one song, and he brought it to us to record. We took it to the people from the films company, who liked our sound and told us to write a couple more tunes.
"On 'Come and Get It,' Paul more or less told us what to play. He helped us arrange 'Carry On,' telling us that a Simon and Garfunkel feel would go well in that segment of the film. He took us through the stages of producing until we could handle it somewhat ourselves."
"Paul taught us a lot about basic simplicity," guitarist Pete Ham elaborated. "Like, if we'd done 'Come and Get It' like that, we wouldn't have been happy with it. We wanted to cover up the rough edges, but he said it didn't need it. He taught us to believe in simplicity, that the most difficulty arranged things were not always the most successful."
After their first album, Magic Christian Music, bassist Ron Griffith left and Tom Evans switched from guitar to bass. Joey Molland, self-professed rocker and Paul McCartney look-a-like, and "ev'ry-budy-clap-yor-hands" act-a-like, assumed the role of rhythm guitarist.
The changes brought about a harder sound. On stage as well as on records, Badfinger comes across as early- and mid-era Beatles. Some Abbey Road techniques, yes, but mostly hard-driving you-make-me-dizzy Beatles VI material. Molland's McCartney-like shenanigans are balanced, across the stage, by Ham's John Lennonish sad-eyed stares into the audience. Singing, Evans and Molland join up on one microphone, singing into each other's cheeks while Ham stands alone. And they shake their heads and go "Woo"--Liverpool accents and all.
"It's very hard not to be similar," said Ham. "We write our own songs and we like simplicity and rock and roll, and we're basically a three guitars/drums lineup."
Despite the comparisons to the Beatles, admittedly a large influence, and the jelly beans and occasional screams Badfinger gets at concerts, the group maintains that they lack a prominent image. "We're just ordinary," drummer Mike Gibbins said in a distinct Welsh accent. "We have no front man like Joe Cocker or Jagger, and no great guitarist like Hendrix or Clapton."
The four Badfingers agreed that business was the main problem accompanying their success; "You just can't live your life the way you want to," said Mike. "You have to do things which under normal circumstances you just wouldn't do. We didn't want to come to America because our album wasn't finished. Now, when we go back we have to look at it again when we're ready to move on to something new."
"We came to America without a single or LP," said Tom, "playing the same stale act we Played last fall. That's why it seems stagnated and sparkleless; we really wanted to change it. Our ultimate goal is to have enough money to do what we want to do."
"The tour will provide us with enough money to live for five months and we'll sit down and write some stuff when we can be completely satisfied with," Tom said. "This LP we've just finished was mixed in one night, and the next day we left for America. It's just a gradual progression from our last album."
Badfinger are still looking for a producer for future albums. For the immediate future, "Name of the Game" will be their next single, with George Harrison, they hope, producing it.