Friday, December 2, 2011

Badfinger 4: Ass

Outside of the former Beatles (and Yoko Ono), Badfinger stayed on Apple Records longer than anyone else. Their loyalty even extended to recording at the Apple Studio in the basement of 3 Savile Row, something only George bothered to do in the ‘70s.
Of the band, Pete Ham was always the most loyal, and he wears his emotion on the sleeve of “Apple Of My Eye”, the sweetly sad farewell that opens Ass and would be the last non-Beatle single on the label. It’s a promising start to an ultimately disjointed album, pulled together from several sessions and one where Joey Molland dominates. The most rockin’ member of the group, his contributions lean toward heavier sounds and plenty of lead guitars, right out front on “Constitution”. “Get Away” and “The Winner” are rather pedestrian boogie numbers with lazy lyrics, but “Icicles” stands out with its infectious melody and anachronistic backwards guitar. Oddly, “I Can Love You” sounds more like the type of song Pete Ham would write; Pete’s only other contribution is the moody “Timeless”, which builds slowly from a piano piece to a grand finale along the lines of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”.
Tom Evans is equally quiet on the album, but his two contributions are gems. “Blind Owl” is a toe-tapping rocker made for the stage, while “When I Say” is as sweet as any of his love songs. Somehow Mike Gibbins got to add a song, but any chance “Cowboy” had is sunk by the annoying wobble-board sound effect in the front of the mix, and the square-dance asides in the break.
Led away by the giant carrot on the cover, Badfinger would resurface soon enough. But that’s another chapter in their sad story. Ass is merely adequate, overlooked upon release and usually only mentioned in passing. It only got limited release on CD in the ‘90s, with only one bonus track but thorough liner notes. (The 2010 reissue included more outtakes, plus others made available for download-only.)

Badfinger Ass (1973)—3
1996 CD reissue: same as 1973, plus 1 extra track
2010 CD reissue: same as 1973, plus 5 extra tracks

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