In many ways, Badfinger is a continuation of Straight Up -- an unabashed, concise pop album -- but there's one important difference: Todd Rundgren was a taskmaster on Straight Up. He may have not jelled with the band, but he brought out their best. Chris Thomas didn't work the same way, although he's equally skilled in the studio, and he made a state-of-the-art pop record, which meant that they didn't necessarily play to the band's strengths. Instead, they tried a little bit of everything, with everybody throwing in a song or two, all in hopes that something would click on the radio. As a result, Badfinger is a bit of a mess. Some moments work quite well -- Pete Ham scores with "Lonely You" and "Song for a Lost Friend" (sounding a bit like Ray Davies on the latter), along with his collaboration with Tom Evans, "Shine On," while Joey Molland's "Love Is Easy" has a pleasing pop hook, and his "Andy Norris" rocks harder and more convincingly than anything they'd yet recorded. But they're surrounded with failed experiments and songs that, for one reason or another, just don't click. Sometimes, the fault is the production. For instance, Ham's "Matted Spam" is pretty catchy, even with its terrible title, but the faux-soul arrangement doesn't fly. Similarly, Mike Gibbons' "My Heart Goes Out" sinks in its own neo-folkie pretensions, and Molland's brooding "Give It Up" flails under then-contemporary AOR cliches. On the whole, Badfinger is a stronger record than its immediate predecessor, since it plays to their pop strengths, but there are enough missed opportunities and forgettable moments to make it worthwhile only for truly dedicated fans. The rest can make do with the selections on Shine On or The Best of Badfinger, Vol. 2.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine