Badfinger were one of the first groups signed to the Beatles’ new record label Apple in the late 1960s. In a previous incarnation, they were known as The Iveys and had enjoyed a moderate hit in Europe with the song Maybe Tomorrow. Despite this, the Apple hierarchy decided that the Iveys as a band name was not in keeping with the group’s new power-pop direction and was considered trite for the times. The Beatles road manager Neil Aspinall stepped in and suggested the new name Badfinger (allegedly a reference to the Beatles song With A Little Help From My Friends, which had boasted a working title of Bad Finger Boogie).
Badfinger’s association with The Beatles at that time gave them great kudos, but was also to dog them somewhat as comparisons with the fab four became repetitive and wearisome for the principal songwriters, Pete Ham and Tom Evans. They went on to enjoy some success in the US over the ensuing three or four years, but became hamstrung by the poor management contracts they signed along the way. The endless stream of negative ramifications following on from these signings caused huge tensions within the band and proved toxic to their career.
The first of the three Badfinger songs to have a direct Beatles connection gave them their biggest UK hit:
- Come And Get It – from the album Magic Christian Music, the song was written by Paul McCartney and the eventual recording was almost a mirror image of McCartney’s demo version on which he played all the instruments. It made top ten throughout the world, landing them with a ‘new Beatles’ tag (for better or for worse).
- No Matter What – from the album No Dice, initially produced by the Beatles roadie Mal Evans, until final production was completed by one of the Beatles regular engineers since 1966, Geoff Emerick. There was no doubt they’d achieved a much heavier sound on here than anything they’d done as The Iveys. An outstanding lead vocal from Pete Ham, which drew favourable comparisons with Lennon and many other, heavy rock exponents of the time such as Free’s Paul Rodgers and Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan.
* Day After Day – from the 1971 album Straight Up, produced initially by George Harrison whose involvement was suddenly curtailed by his Concert For Bangladesh commitments. The final production credit went to Todd Rundgren. To my ear, it sounds as though the track’s lucid slide guitar can only belong to George.
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