Wish You Were Here

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Wish You Were Here is a glistening, powerful rock record that stays true to power pop while sounding as contemporary as any mainstream rock band of the mid-'70s. It was the kind of record that could have been a hit, but due to a series of legal and managerial entanglements, it was pulled from stores before it had a chance to find its audience. Despite its relative obscurity, most die-hard Badfinger fans maintain that the group shines brilliantly on Wish You Were Here and they're correct. For one, it's easily the most cohesive album the group ever recorded -- a nice by-product of working with one talented producer (in this case, Chris Thomas) for an entire album instead of piecing a record together. Also, the showcases each band member at a peak of songwriting. As the band's most prolific and gifted composer, Ham naturally has the strongest presence, and while each of his songs stands as proof that he was a consummate pop craftsman -- particularly the elegant "Dennis," the hard-hitting "Just a Chance," and the Abbey Road-esque "Meanwhile Back at the Ranch." Joey Molland has a strong showing with the stately ballad "Love Time" and "Should I Smoke," his complement to "Ranch." What is surprising is that Mike Gibbins' two contributions are of the same caliber, as is Tom Evans' electric-piano laden "King of the Load," since they were in a bit of a slump prior to this album. Thomas ties the record together with a clean, professional production that keeps the rockers energetic without losing their melodic edge, while preventing the sentimental numbers from seeming syrupy. All of this results in a classy, catchy pop record, possibly the best Badfinger ever released. It could have been a hit, too, but we'll never know.

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