by Rick Clark
Rock & Roll Disc , September 1990
With the Apple catalog still unreleased, and demand for Badfinger CD product at an all-time high, Rhino has put out a collection representing the band's prime post-Apple materials hence the Vol. 2 designation.
As Apple Records began to collapse, Badfinger signed with Warner Bros. and hastily released Badfinger (originally titled For Love Or Money). It came out only months after Ass, their marginal final Apple effort, hit the marketplace. The sudden glut of new Badfinger material softened their impact upon the public. Warners didn't help matters by releasing the terribly wimpy "I Miss You," as Badfinger's first single.
About half of Badfinger, however, contained evidence that the band's highly developed sense of Anglo-pop melodism was very much intact. "Shine On" and "Lonely You," two great songs by Pete Ham (the band's primary singer-songwriter), are included here. In spite of developing management troubles and internal tensions, Badfinger recorded Wish You Were Here, an album every bit the equal of their best work on Apple. With excellent reviews, encouraging airplay, and gratifying sales numbers, Wish You Were Here was shaping up to be one of the band's biggest successes until Warner Bros.' publishing division informed the label that a lawsuit had been filed against the band's management over misuse of funds. Warners immediately pulled Wish You Were Here off the market. Until now, this was one of the great lost albums of the '70s.
Most of Wish You Were Here is included on The Best Of...Vol. 2, but two of the album's better tracks ("Dennis" and "Love Time") were left off, for some odd reason. It certainly wasn't for lack of disc time. Nevertheless, both of the album's powerful double medleys, "In The Meantime / Some Other Time" and "Meanwhile Back at the Ranch / Should I Smoke" are included. Pete Ham's stunning "Just A Chance" and "Know One Knows," two songs that should've been hits, are included as well.
During the winter of 1975, Badfinger began cutting tracks for an album tentatively titled Head First. That also stayed in the can, due to the unresolved lawsuit. Pete Ham's "Lay Me Down" and "Keep Believing" are standouts from the four Head First tracks included on Vol. 2. As litigation wore on, Ham couldn't deal with his frustration and hung himself in his garage in April, 1975.
Tom Evans and Joey Molland carried on with the band's name and released mediocre 1979 effort, Airwaves, on Elektra. The album's only two good songs, "Lost Inside Your Love" and "Love is Gonna Come at Last," are found here. After Airwaves, Badfinger released the forgettable Say No More. Tom Evans (bassist/singer) did just that and hung himself in 1983. Recently, surviving members Joey Molland and Mike Gibbins have been feuding over the ethics of continuing to trade on the band's name, while seven or eight impostor bands calling themselves "Badfinger" can be found touring clubs.
Rhino has done a typically first class job in assembling this release. Sonically, Vol. 2, is excellent, particularly on the Wish You Were Here tracks. Badfinger expert Dan Matovina's annotation is informative and heartfelt, though I personally wish he would've fingered the band's management a little better by naming them. The Best Of ...Vol. 2 is hard proof that Badfinger's peak work extended beyond the Apple years. Hopefully, Rhino will be able to release Wish You Were Here, Badfinger and Head First on CD. And if Apple would ever wake up and smell the coffee, they would find an eager market for Straight Up, No Dice, et al. Bootleggers have already capitalized on that fact.