By: Rick Landers
Badfinger and Beyond, by author Michael A.Cimino, captures the early days of Badfinger , as told by Badfinger guitarist Joey Molland, taking us back when music was the end all and be all for working class kids in Liverpool, England. Playing guitar in a band was an escape route for some, helping steer them away from low wage jobs to fame and fortune. Leading the way were The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Swinging Blue Jeans, the Searchers and other lads who were local heroes on their way to world fame.
When the British rock group, Badfinger, hit the airwaves there was a rumor that they were The Beatles, working under a different name. They had the joyous pop sound of McCartney with guitar work that hinted of Harrison, as well as some very melodic harmonies that could easily be mistaken for the Fab Four. Of course, Badfinger was on Apple Records and McCartney did write and produce their hit “Come and Get It”, so the rumors had an edge of truth to them. And today, the hits of the group are as punchy and catchy as they were when they first arrived on the scene – brilliant pop-rock.
Badfinger would release a series of strong pop-rock songs that included: “No Matter What”, “Day After Day” and “Baby Blue”. And members Pete Ham and Tom Evans wrote “Without You” that became a mega-hit for Harry Nillson.
In 1969, Liverpool guitarist, Joey Molland would join the group when they were called The Iveys, then as Badfinger he shared the fan frenzy, the world-wide tours and the friendship of his new mates. But, for those who have followed the sea of madness that surrounded the group, the top of the pops hits were mingled with all the tragic drama that a career in rock can unleash.
Molland tells us about venturing into the legendary Cavern venue where all the local groups played. This isn’t a telling based on some journalist reporting, but the reminiscing of Joey who was there with all the sweat, the smoke and the raunchy riffs blasting and bouncing off the walls of the joint.
Throughout the book, Joey’s sense of wonder and his genuine modesty shine, as he finds himself in the company of British rock royalty, who accept him as an equal or at least a fellow musician. The Beatles, The Moody Blues and The Who are among those that he met in the inner circle of rock. Still, some of the most intriguing bits are about rockers who are still relatively unknown in the States. Performers like Gary Leeds, Gary Walker and The Rain, The Merseybeats were friends and we’re given a more intimate feel for the scene at the time than most other rock journals.
As artists on The Beatles’ Apple Records, Joe and the other members of Badfinger had a ringside seat as the label ramped up and then crashed. And as much as rock stardom at the time was a kick, it was also a roller coaster ride with all the highs and lows that life could possibly offer. And Badfinger would experience them all with major hits, insidious managers, infighting and suicides.
Badfinger and Beyond is split into two distinct sections. The first third of the book presents the Joey Molland story and it’s a great read for anyone with a love affair with the history of British rock music. The book includes a mid-section of photos of Joey and the other lads of Badfinger, then moves to a compilation of interviews that author, Michael A. Cimino, had with Joey, where the performer talks about his recollections of recording sessions for Badfinger’s albums. The song-by-song conversations are for hard-core Badfinger fans and may not hold much interest for other readers, except when Molland talks about his work on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album, or with his sitting in on recordings with John Lennon, where we can tie our other interests to his story.
Badfinger and Beyond is a fun romp of a read when Molland and Cimino combine forces in telling the story of British rock from an insider’s view. As for the discography interviews, readers will want to grab their Badfinger albums or head over to YouTube in order to get a better understanding of what Joey’s talking about in his discussions with the author. As with all autobiographical styled books with memories of the past fading into the distance, it’s good to keep in mind that the word “definitive’ can’t be used with recollections that are over forty years old in some cases even when genuinely rendered. Still, big time Badfinger fans and those who have enjoyed following Joey Molland and his music throughout the years will be captivated by this up front and personal account of his life and times with Badfinger, one that’s well worth the “price of admission”.