December 13, 1971 - Badfinger: Straight Up is released.
Released on The Beatles Apple record label, Straight Up is the third album released by Badfinger and the follow up to the previous years breakthrough album No Dice, which contained the hit "No Matter What" and the original version of "Without You," a song that would be covered by Harry Nilsson on his album Nilsson Schmilsson in 1971 and become one of the biggest selling rock songs of the era.
Technically, Straight Up is the third album by the band but the second to feature the classic line-up of Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland and Mike Gibbins. The first album to be released under the Badfinger name was Magic Christian Music in early 1970, that album was comprised of three new songs produced by Paul McCartney, including the McCartney-penned "Come and Get It" which became a top ten hit for the band in the US and UK. The rest of Magic Christian Music featured remixed version of seven other songs that were recorded by the band when they were known as The Iveys. The Iveys were the first band to be signed to The Beatles Apple label and their name would be changed to Badfinger, which was inspired by The Beatles song "Bad Finger Boogie" that later became "With A Little Help From My Friends."
With Straight Up Badfinger continued to evolve and create a sound of their own. Being so closely associated with The Beatles had made it tough for the band to achieve their own identity. Initially the band recorded twelve songs in early 1971 that they thought would be the follow up album to No Dice but those tracks were rejected by Apple Records and George Harrison was brought in to oversee the project. Harrison would end up working on four new tracks with the band that would eventually make their way onto Straight Up, but Harrison was unable to complete work on the album because of other commitments, including The Concert For Bangladesh. Harrison told the band he could not finish the project but invited them to perform with him at the Concert For Bangladesh in August. With Harrison out of the picture.....Todd Rundgren stepped in to complete the sessions for Straight Up. Rundgren mixed the entire album and received production credit for eight of the albums twelve songs, with Harrison getting credit for the remaining four songs.
Listening to Straight Up you would never guess that there were so many obstacles in the way of making such a great record. It comes off as a very focused and cohesive collection of songs with strong performances from the band. Loaded with power-pop harmonies and hooks.....Badfinger managed to make a near-perfect album with Straight Up. Two singles were released from the album - "Day After Day" and "Baby Blue" - both written by Pete Ham. "Day After Day" came from the George Harrison sessions and features George on slide guitar along with Pete Ham. It would become the highest charting single for the band in the US. "Baby Blue" followed and would be the group's last top twenty single, peaking at No.14 on the Billboard charts. "Baby Blue" had a big resurgence in popularity when it was featured in a recent episode of AMC's Breaking Bad, becoming a top-selling song on iTunes following the airing of the episode. Elsewhere on Straight Up you will find many other standout tracks, including Pete Hams "Name of the Game," "Take It All" and "Perfection." Bassist Tom Evans would also contribute some of his best material, with the songs "Money," "Flying" and "It's Over." Likewise Joey Molland had a strong showing with the songs "Sweet Tuesday Morning," "Suitcase," "I'd Die Babe" and the albums most rocking tune "Sometimes."
Sadly Straight Up would be Badfinger's commercial peak and the band would make one more album for Apple Records before leaving to sign with Warner Brothers. A series of tragic events would follow and bring this line-up of Badfinger to an end with the release of the album Wish You Were Here in 1974. Wish You Were Here is considered by many Badfinger fans to be the bands best work since Straight Up, but unfortunately it was too little too late and the band was drowning in a myriad of bad business decisions and lawsuits. Basically the band was completely broke, had been all but shut down by their legal problems and could not continue. Guitarist Pete Ham committed suicide in April of 1975, followed by the suicide of bassist Tom Evans in 1983. Drummer Mike Gibbins died in 2005. Joey Molland is the only surviving member of Badfinger and still tours and performs the music of Badfinger.
I highly recommend watching VH1's Behind The Music on Badfinger if you are unfamiliar with their career, it truly is the most tragic story in rock history........
Scott Carr is a guitarist who plays in the Columbus, OH bands Radio Tramps and Returning April. Scott is also an avid collector of vinyl records and works at Lost Weekend Records. So...if you are looking for Scott....you'll either find him in a dimly lit bar playing his guitar or in a record store digging for the holy grail.