Brando's Badfinger Pages, August 1, 2000
For those contemplating purchasing this book for the first time, I found this book an excellent read, it was researched thoroughly containing excerpts from hundreds of interviews with hundreds of people concerning events surrounding the career of the Iveys and Badfinger and the deaths of Peter Ham and Tommy Evans. I reviewed the book originally in April 1998. If you would like to read the original review for this book then click here for Brando's original review of Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger What follows on this page is a review of the additions made to the 2nd pressing of the book.
When I first learned a short while back that Matovina's book was going to have a second pressing I was glad to hear it. This meant there must be enough interest to merit a 2nd pressing and many new fans were going to be exposed to the bands story. If there is increased interest in the book then there must be increased interest in their music and it's only a matter of time until Apple realizes this and issues a Rarities disc (there's a segue). Then we all learned that the 2nd edition was going to have a few extras. The question for me was: Would there be enough of these extras to entice people who purchased the first edition to take a chance on the new pressing? I am pleased to say that there are more than enough extras in this package to encourage us devoted fans to venture our leisure income in the direction of the 2nd edition of the book. What follows is a description of some of these extras, including a new CD (the clincher for me) containing more gems from the vaults of Ham, Evans and the Iveys.
The 2nd edition of Matovina's book includes many new paragraphs from the first edition of his book. The paragraphs appear scattered throughout the book. They serve to add more information to the book concerning events that have taken place since the books original publication and to clarify & support statements made by others in the book. The biggest noticeable addition (in paragraph form) is in the Afterword section which has several new pages devoted to events that have taken place since 1997 including the Day After Day Live CD legal proceedings from England only a few short months ago.
The afore mentioned changes may not be enough to entice someone to purchase the book a second time. Thus, also included in the revised edition are several sections listing almost every Iveys & Badfinger live performance containing the date, place and on occasion other artists on the bill. This section features 612 Ivey performances and 338 Badfinger performances. That is a total of 950 different dates of performances overall, and if you consider that on a few of those dates the band performed 2 shows a day you can safely assume that there have easily been over 1000 performances by the combination of outfits.
The revised edition also contains dates and other information regarding nearly every time the Iveys / Badfinger ventured into the studio from 1967 to 1975. There are a total of 348 dates listed for the times when either the group or the individual members participated in recording sessions. To illustrate just how extensive an addition the live & session listings are: Matovina used nine extra pages to include this information, but he used a small font to allow two listings per line. If all this material was listed (one item per line) using a normal sized font, it would have created an additional 34 pages!!! Now that's an addition!
The glossy photos are different as well. The first edition featured individual Ivey photos and Badfinger performing. The new glossy photos are black & white pictures taken by Shepard Sherbell (circa 1970-72). The photos show the band in good spirits and in much more natural poses than the Ivey shots from the first edition.
All these additions, which all enhance your Badfinger experience, take a back seat to the inclusion of a 72 minute compact disc that features Pete Ham, Ivey's & Tom Evan's demo material and interviews with Pete and Tom. The tracks on the disc are meant to correspond with portions of text in the book (the 2nd edition contains markings of when to play a particular track). There are 40 minutes of music combined with roughly 32 minutes of spoken material.
First thing to note about the disc, it is sort of a chronological hodgepodge of material. In another words, this CD isn't Straight Up or Wish You Were Here, but it is something new, something very interesting & enjoyable to hear and absorb. There are many fine musical moments that showcase the great lead vocals of Ham, Evans and even Ron Griffiths and the choral singing by Iveys. Witnessing the burgeoning writing skills of the Iveys and later the introspective lyrics written by Ham & Evans are other obvious highlights on the disc. For those of us who are constantly desiring more material be released from Ham, Evans (and of course Badfinger) this is ear candy for the soul.
The first portion of the disc focuses on Ivey material. The disc opens with a Ham solo demo from 1966, "Man Without a Heart". It is clear that Matovina wanted to open the disc showcasing the raw emotion Pete could lay down on tape. Ham's vocals grab you by the heart and don't let go. "Taxi" follows on the disc and is great little pop tune featuring Ron Griffiths on lead vocals.
Three of the next four tracks all have that AM radio appeal that could have easily launched the Iveys if someone would have gotten these tracks to a full production and release. "Take Good Care of My Baby" by Ham, is a lament for a former girlfriend and his hope that she is treated right by her new beau. Ham's vocals come through as extremely passionate. At this point the listener is left wondering if perhaps a new Iveys demo disc may be even better than the band's actual lone Apple release.
The Iveys track, "She Came Out of the Cold" is a charming light-weight pop recording. Evans sings the verse, the band sings the chorus with Ham's voice the most predominant. It is a good little tune, with a confusing lyric (the band saw the girl last night, but the next day they are told that a year ago last night she died)? Perhaps the girl the band saw was a ghost? The song would have made a nice mid-1960's AM radio pop song. It is the kind of song that a band like Pearl Jam (whose beefed up cover version of J. Frank Wilson's, "Last Kiss" went top 10 in 1999) could totally revamp this track into a rugged guitar-ladden top 10 hit.
Is it possible that Motown / Tamla artist Smokey Robinson owes Pete Ham a debt of gratitude for writing the Iveys track, "Clown of the Party?" Is it possible that Robinson heard this song and created "a pop-soul thing" that featured a remarkably similar message of despair featuring the beloved circus character metaphor. Did Robinson lift his sense of lyrical irony from Ham and the boys? Is the photo of the 45 rpm on the right a long lost Miracles recording? Though the afore mentioned scenarios are highly doubtful, listening to this song will at least make you think about them. If you want to hear what "Tears of a Clown" would have sounded like by a group of white, Welsh & English musicians with a noticeable lack of soul then this is the version for you. Personally, I enjoyed it (Ham's vocals never let you down)....and I love what Smokey did with his song as well .
Early takes of "Take it All" and "Ringside" are featured in the collection. But the track that will knock your proverbial socks off is "Hey, Mr. Manager." It comes as a total surprise that this Evans' track made it onto the disc. It has been mired in a legal quagmire for way too long. The lyrics fit well in describing the band's woes and compliments the book perfectly. I never thought of this song as a 45 because of the lyrics, but hearing it as bright as it is here (same quality as those on the Rhino Best of Volume 2) makes me think that perhaps it would have had a chance in it's day. This track along with the charming Ivey tracks should be enough to satisfy anyone who was considering purchasing the 2nd edition who also purchased the first.
There's more: Aside from Evan's sensational Head First track, the compact disc also features an upbeat demo Tommy wrote and performed with the Dodgers, "I Believe in You." It is a surprisingly optimistic number from Tom. Although Tom's writing output diminished over the course of the last several Badfinger albums (the Warners LPs), this track from 1977 shows that good pop songwriting was still within his grasp. The CD closes with a track from the out-of-print 1994 Over You - The Final Tracks disc, "Over You." It is a gentle love song to Marianne, pleading for a chance at reconciliation. A superb track and a fine way to close out the musical aspect of this collection.
Apart from the music there are five spoken tracks on the disc. There are two interviews: the first on the disc is a six minute interview with Pete. Aside from hearing Pete discuss the band, my wife who was listening to the disc as well commented on how "lovely" Pete's voice was to listen to (in a spoken form). I suppose that is true. The big interview, a 19 minute excursion in the art of conversation, features Tommy & Pete explaining the band history and addressing current (1974) issues the band were facing. The disc also contains three phone conversations, 2 with Tommy & 1 with Pete. Although the Evans' calls (1983) show his state of mind and his opinions of the bands situation it was the Ham conversation that really caught my interest.
The Ham conversation track is only a 100 seconds in length, but the impression it leaves is deep. Here was a man (Ham) who was asking ever so subtly and politely for assistance in a situation he didn't quite understand at the time and couldn't control. A situation he (or any musician or anyone period) shouldn't have had to face. The lack of communication with management and the record company was becoming a big problem. Granted, Ham is also dealing with Molland getting ready to leave the band, but to understand that for the last six months of Pete's life he had to deal daily with the abandonment of a person he put an enormous amount of faith in to run his career is heartbreaking.
Of all the additions made to the book, the inclusion of this fine compact disc to the 2nd edition will easily be enough to entice users who purchased the first edition to acquire the 2nd pressing of the #2 Rock Book of 1998 according to Record Collector Magazine. What was Matovina aware of when creating this edition that should have been picked up on by Capitol & Apple: Give the people what they want!!! Matovina, in an effort not to lose sales, intelligently offered some new music to entice both new readers and devoted fans. I'm perfectly okay with that, the more music by these guys that makes it's way into my CD player and into my heart the better. I sincerely wish Capitol & Apple would have considered this matter (not losing sales) when compiling the new collection and realized bonus tracks were a must! Devoted fans will recognize there are easily enough "new" & enjoyable moments in this package (especially the CD) to welcome it into one's Badfinger collection.
There are hopefully going to be many new Badfinger related items available this fall. You may have to stretch your Badfinger dollar more than ever before. Make sure the kids are fed and the bills are paid, and if you can swing it financially, purchase this book and new CD, you won't be disappointed. While you are at it, don't forget about purchasing that new Joey Molland CD or that new Mike Gibbins compact disc or that possibly new Head First longplay CD or that new Very Best of Badfinger collection (for the new liner notes) or any of the fine Badfinger related compact discs available. Please see my Merchandise page for a list available Badfinger product.... and don't forget those woollyrockers!