Review: An Exceptional Endeavor, ‘Shine On—A Tribute to Pete Ham’ is Absolutely Essential

(Y&T Records)
**** 1/2

Videos by American Songwriter

Undoubtedly one of the most important of the so-called “power pop” bands to emerge in the wake of the British Invasion, Badfinger found success tainted with tragedy. Despite an excellent series of early Apple Records albums, individual members found themselves plagued with doubts and depression. Two would eventually take their own lives—Pete Ham, one of the band’s principal songwriters, and later, bassist Tom Evans.

Despite that tragic legacy, their classic songs survive and remain essential 50-plus years after their initial appearance. Ham in particular was a consistently prolific writer, responsible for such classics as “No Matter What,” “Day After Day,” “Baby Blue” and “Without You.”

Kudos then to Y&T Records for giving Ham further belated recognition with this 35-track double album devoted entirely to the songs that remain an indelible part of the band’s catalog. A remarkably wide array of artists take part. Among them are Shelby Lynne (whose “Day After Day” makes for one of several highlights), Mary Lee Kortes, Tobin Sprout, Mary Lou Lord, Fernando Perdomo, Melanie, the Delevantes, Albert Castiglia, Dennis Diken, and Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby. 

Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby take a decided divergence with their take on “Midnight Caller,” but it’s a high mark of the album overall that the various participants add individual imprints to each of their offerings. The Speaker Warsrock relentlessly on “No Matter What” while Mic Harrison and the High Score offer a rousing rendition of “Meanwhile Back at the Ranch.” Diane Ward and Ken Sharp do the same with “Lay Me Down” and “Just A Chance,” respectively. Amanda Green’s “Name of the Game” and Mary Karlzen’s “We’re For the Dark” stay true to the originals, albeit from their decidedly personal perspectives. Melanie’s “Without You” and Nelson Bragg’s take on “Carry On Till Tomorrow” share softer textures, while Jim Camacho’s reggae rendition of “They’re Knocking Down Our Home” is unexpectedly exhilarating.

Badfinger fans take note: an exceptional endeavor, Shine On is absolutely essential.

Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns

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