Sunday, April 3, 2016

Badfinger - 1979-06-15 - Laredo, TX

Badfinger
June 15, 1979
unknown venue, Laredo, TX
'Friday Night in Laredo'

Soundboard recording, good quality
Mp3 @ 192 kbps

Ok, so this is not the 'classic' Badfinger, in that this was after Pete Ham's death, but they were still pretty good. This was the 2nd incarnation of Badfinger, but it does include both of the key remaining singer-songwriters of the group, Tom Evans and Joey Molland, for their last concert tour performing together. After Ham's tragic death in 1975, Badfinger was no more. Molland (who had actually already left the group in late 1974), Evans, drummer Mike Gibbins and latecomer keyboardist Bob Jackson all went their separate ways, joining/forming other bands. Molland formed Natural Gas (released 1 album, 1976), and Evans and Jackson joined The Dodgers (1 album, 1978). However, none of these ventures worked out (Natural Gas fizzled and Evans was actually kicked out of The Dodgers before their album was released, with his vocal and bass parts removed and overdubbed). So, by 1978, they were basically out of music, working various jobs to get by. Joey was then recruited by a couple of American musicians, guitarist Joe Tansin and drummer Kenny Harck, to start a new band, and since they needed a bass, Joey recruited Tom to join as well. At the time there was no intention of having the new band be a re-formation of Badfinger, but as they were rehearsing and shopping demos, it was recommended by a prospective record company that they rename the band Badfinger and bill their new album as their 'comeback'. So, they became Badfinger again, working on a new album that became Airwaves (1979). However, drummer Harck was fired before the album was finished (using other session drummers to finish), and Tansin left shortly after completion of the album (upset that Evans/Molland had taken over, leaving most of his songs and vocals off the album - Tansin only had 2 songs make it on the album, neither with him singing lead). So, for the upcoming tour, Joey Recruited keyboard player Tony Kaye (formerly of Yes) and drummer Peter Clarke (Stealers Wheel) to fill out the band. With this lineup, they toured promoting Airwaves, and then (after adding Glenn Sherba on guitar) made another album, Say No More (1981). However, after Say No More wrapped, Evans and Molland split for good, with each forming their own competing touring versions of Badfinger (and each claiming the other's was not the 'real' Badfinger) from 1981 to 1983. Of the competing bands, Evans' version also featured the return of Mike Gibbins and Bob Jackson, so his band did have more core Badfinger members (with the bands generally referred to as Joey Molland's Badfinger and Tom Evans' Badfinger). This only increased the acrimony between Molland and Evans, in addition to ongoing financial and legal problems and struggles. In February 1983, Evans and Jackson with some new band members recorded some demos for a new album, with the band tentatively called 'Goodfinger' (one of the tracks was a tribute to Pete Ham entitled 'I Won't Forget You'). Evans shopped the tapes around (and continued touring through 1983) trying to get the backing and money to make the album but was not successful. On November 18, following a long, heated phone conversation with Joey Molland regarding Badfinger finances, Tom, who had never gotten over Ham's death,  just gave up and hanged himself at his home.

Now, regarding the re-formed Badfinger and their albums Airwaves and Say No More, generally critics and fans have not been very supportive, but actually there are some very good songs there. Of course, Ham's songwriting and vocal talents are sorely missing, but both Evans and Molland are fine songwriters and performers on their own, and the results are pretty good overall (just not quite classic Badfinger). The biggest complaint about the albums is that they suffer from an overly slick ('West Coast') pop production and style (the beginnings of that '80's pop slickness creeping in) and just don't have that Badfinger sound. However, that is not a problem in the live shows from the subsequent 1979 tour, where they maintain their rockin' edge (Joey and Tom were always harder rockers than Pete was anyway). Thus, this tour is very interesting, and the show presented here is very good. The setlist starts right out with 5 straight songs from Airwaves (which the tour was promoting), but after that it is all classic Badfinger songs (with the exception of 1 song from Joey's previous Natural Gas band and a Chuck Berry closer). Not surprisingly, they stick primarily with their own (Evans and Molland) songs, with just a couple of Ham's well-known hits thrown in. But there are plenty of great Evans/Molland songs (although I can't believe they did not do 'Sometimes', which was Joey's best-ever rocker) to go around. This is also interesting in that it features far more keyboards than ever before for Badfinger (only tour having only one guitar, with Tony Kaye's keyboards filling in much of the sound) providing a somewhat different sound and feel on many of the songs. The recording itself is a soundboard, but not of great quality, as it is apparent that the tape comes from a somewhat worn cassette, with inherent wobble and volume/clarity fluctuations throughout. Still, it is pretty good overall (and best I've heard from this tour). So, anyway, check it out, the last tour of Badfinger featuring both Tom Evans and Joey Molland.
 
Tracklist:
1 Look Out California (fades in)
2 The Winner
3 Lost Inside Your Love
4 Love Is Gonna Come At Last
5 Come Down Hard
6 Suitcase
7 Get Away
8 Blind Owl
9 Without You
10 Give It Up
11 Come And Get It
12 Baby Blue
13 I've Been Waiting
14 Andy Norris
15 Rock Of Ages
16 Better Days
17 Johnny B. Goode

Joey Molland - guitar, vocals
Tom Evans - bass, vocals
Tony Kaye - keyboards
Peter Clarke - drums

Note: First song of set reported to be 'Rock 'n Roll Contract' apparently was not recorded and not included on this source tape.

Badfinger - 1979-06-15 - Laredo, TX

Addendum: As you may be able to tell, I have been on a Badfinger kick lately. They really were a great band. Although I have always known about the brilliance of No Dice and Straight Up, I have only recently discovered the joys of the rest of their catalog. I had always been under the impression that their Warners albums and subsequent work was not that good, but had never really listened to it all myself. And I was not even aware until recently of the 'lost' album, Head First, which was recorded in 1974, but not released (in rough form and on an obscure label) until 2000. And that is not even mentioning multiple CDs full of home demo recordings by Pete Ham that have also been made available in the subsequent years. Well, I have been immersing myself in all of it recently, and I have to say, I had no idea that Badfinger's catalog (and legacy) was this impressive and large.
Although the first Warners album (Badfinger) is a bit of a disappointment relative to the others, it is still overall a quite good album. But Wish You Were Here is an absolutely great album, and the real shocker is that Head First, so long buried, is also, for the most part, a great album as well, certainly a worthy successor to Wish You Were Here, and continues right where that album leaves off. It's just a shame that the version we have of Head First is not of top sound quality (made from cassette recording of original rough mixes, as master tapes were apparently lost) and has not received a decent release or the subsequent acclaim it deserves. Thus, in addition to Straight Up (which everyone should already own - get the 2010 remaster version, which has improved sound and excellent bonus tracks), I highly recommend getting Wish You Were Here and Head First (if you can find them). The Evans/Molland re-formed Badfinger albums (Airwaves/Say No More) are also worth checking out, but not essential.
I have also been trying to track down the releases of Pete Ham's home demo recordings, 7 Park Avenue (1997), Golders Green (1999) and Keyhole Street (2013), as well as Tom Evans' last recordings Over You (The Final Tracks) (1993). I've only been able to find some, parts of, but not all of these recordings (as they are very difficult to locate). But what I have heard from these are also quite amazing. These make it clear just what an immense talent Pete Ham was, and that if he would have lived, could have emerged as one of the great songwriters of our time. Although the demos are very rough recordings, most of them just Ham playing guitar and singing into a recorder, the extent, melodies, and breadth of his songs are astounding, as well as the shear number of song ideas, in various states of completion. Of course, included here are early demos for most of his Badfinger songs, but in addition, dozens and dozens of others, many just as good as any of his best songs. It is just amazing to hear this extremely talented young man just play into his recorder, primarily just for his own amusement. So, if you can track these down, I also highly recommend giving them a listen as well.

5 comments:

david said...

you can find the Pete Ham demoes at this site, along with some other Badfinger stuff.
http://avxsearch.in/search?page=3&q=badfinger

Frank Whelan said...

Thank you--one of my favorites and quality shows are hard to find--good job!

Brett Alan said...

Wow--never heard a Badfinger show from this era before! I'm especially looking forward to "Love Is Gonna Come At Last", a GREAT song, and one Joey never does live with his version of the band, even though it's actually the biggest hit he wrote. Thanks!

yusrina said...

updated.. the beatles.. greetings from malaysia..
http://albumretro.blogspot.my/

billy said...

thanks for this show i liked these later albums and it's great to hear them live,also your notes are a great help and a must keep too