Five Underrated Classics from Badfinger

Another “Take Five”…

June marked the 75th birthdays of two members of Badfinger. Bassist/guitarist/songwriter Tom Evans would have celebrated his birthday on June 5 (he took his life in 1983); guitarist Joey Molland – today the sole surviving member of the band’s best-known lineup – celebrates on June 21. The band wrote several classic songs, including the Evans’ co-composition “Without You,” a hit for both Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey. But Badfinger has some superb album tracks. Here are five overlooked gems from the band’s catalog.

“We’re for the Dark” (from No Dice, 1970) – This sweeping, dramatic ballad features one of songwriter Pete Ham’s strongest vocal performances; the final track on the band’s third album, it was overshadowed by the hit single “No Matter What.”

“Name of the Game” (from Straight Up, 1971) – Badfinger completed two very different versions of this Pete Ham gem; the George Harrison-produced recording made it onto the album, while an earlier (and more heavily orchestrated) version made with Geoff Emerick surfaced on a later CD reissue.

“Timeless” (from Ass, 1973) – Badfinger always seemed to bristle under the shadow of The Beatles, but this epic track from their final Apple LP draws clear inspiration from Abbey Road’s “I Want You (She’s so Heavy).” A roaring, hypnotic cyclical guitar riff disappears into gale-force winds courtesy of the Moog synthesizer.

“Song for a Lost Friend” (from Badfinger, 1974) – a great single-that-never-was, this Pete Ham song displays all of Badfinger’s virtues – catchy melodies, soaring vocal harmonies, heartfelt lyrics – within three minutes.

“Meanwhile Back at the Ranch/Should I Smoke” (from Wish You Were Here, 1974) – Serious fans point to the last album released by the classic lineup as their best work. And a centerpiece is this seamless medley of two songs – one by Ham, one by Joey Molland – that closes the record.