Review Summary: The finest hour for a group of musicians who lost everything to the music industry.
Rarely is the name 'Badfinger' mentioned without some account of their infamous, tragic story. A Welsh power pop band tagged by critics as the heir-apparent to the Beatles, Badfinger felt the burden of this comparison in the beginning of their career, as their first two proper albums, No Dice
and Straight Up
were reviled by critics, but they were still major commercial successes. Their fame was not meant to last, however, as ensuing legal battles prevented subsequent albums from being heard by the majority of the public, and the band was swiftly torn apart. Their 1974 album Wish You Were Here
would be the band's final album with their principle line-up of Pete Ham, Joey Molland, Tom Evans, and Mike Gibbins. Although largely forgotten in the scheme of things, Wish You Were Here
still stands as a masterpiece to this day, a power pop relic of sorts.
Though Badfinger are compared to the Beatles so frequently, Badfinger developed their own sound fairly early into the career, and they are at their creative peak with Wish You Were Here
. "Just a Chance" starts off the album immediately with a George Harrison-eque guitar intro, a powerful hook, and a loud, endearing bass line. "Doesn't matter what you'd think I'd do, all I wanna do is see it through. You may say it's not a great romance/All I want from you is just a chance to try.
" "You're So Fine" is a country-pop romp that sounds refreshing to this day, and "Dennis" may be one the finest tracks the band ever recorded. Led by a proto-heavy metal riff that's instantly recognizable, it's a brilliantly dark song that will invoke chills in whoever listens to it. "Don't you worry you love of ours, they look like weeds but they're really flowers/And they'll soon be gone.
As the centerpiece of the album, "In the Meantime/Some Other Time" follows "Dennis," and shows the band at their most progressive, combining two tracks that flow together seamlessly: the heavier, guitar-driven "In the Meantime" and the more melodic refrain, "Some Other Time." This could easily be considered one of the finest rock songs of the 1970s; it's epic, cathartic, and oddly bittersweet all at once. And Wish You Were Here
really was a bittersweet moment for Badfinger. Despite giving it their all, they couldn't please their label, Warner Bros, or escape the legal conflicts, and the group was torn apart. Joey Molland would leave the band shortly after its release, and essential frontman Pete Ham would commit suicide in April 1975.
It is simply undeniable that Wish You Were Here
shows the band reaching their creative apex as songwriters and musicians, and the fact that it has gone fairly unnoticed throughout all these years by all but their fanbase is a shame. This is Badfinger at their finest, giving it their all, and burning out brightly rather than fading away. Enjoy it for what it is.
"In the Meantime/Some Other Time"
"Just a Chance"