Badfinger/Wish You Were Here/In Concert at the BBC 1972-1973

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The saga of British rockers Badfinger is a harrowing tale rife with drama, disappointment, and ultimately tragedy. It's amazing, then, that they were able to produce some of the most focused and buoyant power pop of the 1970s. Finding their fame -- but alas, not their fortune -- with several Top Ten singles and four albums on the Beatles' Apple Records label, Badfinger's then-manager Stan Polley negotiated a lucrative multi-album deal for the band with Warner Bros, a move which would result in the final death knell for the struggling Apple Corps. The two studio albums featured on this Rhino/Edsel release -- both from 1974 -- were the group's first and sadly, last for Warner. Enlisting producer Chris Thomas, the group was rushed into the studio to record Badfinger, their debut for the new label. Having completed Ass -- their final record for Apple -- a mere two weeks prior, the group was understandably worn out and lacking in new material. In spite of this, there are some true gems here such as the Tom Evans/Pete Ham collaboration "Shine On" and Ham's "Song for a Lost Friend," but mostly, Badfinger comes across as an uneven effort. The album's commercial potential was further muddled by Apple Corps' delayed release of Ass which came out within a month of Badfinger, confusing fans and drawing interest away from their latest offering. After quickly embarking on another American tour, an emotionally and creatively weary Badfinger was once again rushed into the studio with Chris Thomas to record their Warner follow-up Wish You Were Here. Pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, the group somehow managed to turn a series of half-songs and ideas into a remarkably cohesive and well-written pop album. With songs like "Just a Chance" and "Know One Knows," Wish You Were Here had all the hallmarks of a big-selling rock album and was already receiving rave reviews in the U.S. Sadly, the album had barely been in stores a month before the band's lingering legal and financial issues caused Warner to pull it from the shelves. The growing list of disappointments, combined with Polley's corrupt management, were finally too much for guitarist Pete Ham who took his own life not long after the Wish You Were Here debacle. Adding some perspective to what can now be seen as a tumultuous era for Badfinger, Rhino has included a second disc, In Concert at the BBC 1972-1973, which spans their transition between Apple and Warner and can almost be seen as a prequel to the two included studio albums. The material culled from the two live sets presents a sharp, hard-driving rock band at the peak of their power, still hopeful of future successes that would ultimately evade them.

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