by Joel Vance
Stereo Review, June 1981
Badfinger's comeback album last year on Elektra was pallid, but this time out the reconstituted group -original members Joey Molland and Tom Evans, plus Tony Kaye, Richard Bryans and Glen Sherba - has opted for an aggressive sound, and it works. It isn't the same as the Badfinger sound of the late 1960s; when original member Pete Ham took his own life in 1975, distraught over bad management and the collapse of the Beatles and Apple Records (under whose auspices Badfinger first appeared), he took that special sound with him. I suggested in my review of the Elektra album that since Badfinger was trading on memories of a sound they could no longer produce, the name should be retired. I'm not so sure about that now; this album may signal a second identity worthy of the first.
None of the melodies on "Say No More" approach those of the old Badfinger, but there is an attractive renewed confidence and assertiveness. Molland and Evans are writing, playing and singing hard, and most of the time I can accept them on their own new terms. The most interesting cut is Rock and Roll Contract, a cynical, pained, and painful horror story about what can happen to a band. Some of the guitar passages paraphrase the George Harrison / Eric Clapton duet on While My Guitar Gently Weeps from the 1973 Bangladesh Concert (for which the original Badfinger served as the rhythm section), and there are oblique references to Pete Ham's suicide and a spoken interjection in a bogeyman voice: "We have a five-year agreement until death do us part . . . or I pick up the option - heh heh heh." If this is exorcism, I hope it works.