Review: Take In The Good Memories from Badfinger

Badfinger with a Beatle (l to r) Mike Gibbons, Joey Molland, Pete Ham, Beatle George Harrison and Tom Evans in New York, 1971 (Photo: Vincent Vigil)

Badfinger | No Matter What:Revisiting the Hits | (Cleopatra)
3 1/2 Out of Five Stars

Suffice it to say that any revisit to songs that are so entrenched in the collective consciousness they’re all but indelible is a tough challenge to take on right at the outset. It’s a no-win situation in most cases. Either you fail to reach the high bar established initially, or, at best, you’e absolutely unable to supplement the original, even when an admirable effort might seem to bring it close. Of course, enlisting a number of marquee names does help, at least in terms of creating added interest, which is why No Matter What: Revisiting the Hits at least attracts interest.

Sadly, there’s only one member of the iconic quartet left to dally with the idea, that being Joey Molland who joined the group shortly after the band made a name change from the Iveys to Badfinger. He was there when the band was taken under the tutelage of the Beatles, signed to Apple Records and given their first hit, “Come and Get It,” courtesy of the pen of Paul McCartney. These days Molland alternates between making music under his own aegis — his latest solo outing, Be True To Yourself came out just last year — and taking top billing in a current trio that operates under the Badfinger brand. Knowing that the name provides staying power, he’s able to mine some nostalgia and banks on the hits that made them so radio ready at the end of the ‘60s and forward into the start of the ‘70s.

That’s the idea here of course, and with a collection of memorable material to bank on, and an impressive roster of guests — some of whom share the power pop mentality that Badfinger helped firmly foster early on and others that could be called willing admirers — 

No Matter What:Revisiting the Hits fulfills that title’s intent. That said, it’s the music that provides the real allure, all additives aside. “Mo Matter What,” “Come and Get It,” “Day After Day,” “Baby Blue” and “Without You” remain as alluring as always, and while these takes will never take the place of the original renditions, hearing them again is satisfying in itself. Having the added benefit of some superb players — Vanilla Fudge’s Mark Stein on the title track, Rick Wakeman adding a keyboard flourish to “Come and Get It,” the unlikely juxtaposition of Ian Anderson’s flute on “Day After Day” and ace guitarists Sonny Landreth  and Albert Lee lending their finesse to “Suitcase” and “Sweet Tuesday Morning,” respectively — satisfies the curiosity factor while adding a new dimension to the dynamic, but ultimately offers little that will necessitate subbing these takes over the more familiar fare.

That said, the part Rick Springfield’s played on “Love Is Gonna Come at Last,” the role Carl Giammarese of the Buckinghams assumes on “I Don’t Mind,” Matthew Sweet’s singing on “Baby Blue,” and, most notably, Todd Rundgren’s suitably stirring lead on “Without You” do manage to stir some memories and ensure a welcome response. Even the staunchest skeptics will likely agree.

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