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An Apple a Day: Badfinger - Magic Christian Music
by Bruce Spizer
Continuing our close look this week at the recently released Apple remasters, today we take a listen to Badfinger's first album, "Magic Christian Music."
"Magic Christian Music" was well received at the time of its release in 1970 by Beatles fans and lovers of pop-rock music. The record reached number 55 on the U.S. charts. Forty years later the album holds up extremely well.
All of the record's songs were recorded while the group was known as the Iveys. Its lineup featured Pete Ham on lead guitar, Tom Evans on rhythm guitar, Mike Gibbons on drums and Ron Griffiths on bass. All but Evans, a Liverpool native, were from Swansea, Wales. By the time the disc was issued, the band had changed its name to Badfinger and replaced Ron Griffiths with Joey Molland. The name Badfinger came from "Badfinger Boogie," which was the working title of "With A Little Help From My Friends." The group was brought to Apple by Beatles confidant and roadie Mal Evans (who was not related to Tom Evans).
The first Iveys' single, "Maybe Tomorrow," was a beautiful ballad that should have sold well but didn't, stalling at #67 in the Billboard Hot 100. An album named after the single was prepared, but was only issued in Japan and a few European countries.
The group's big break came when Paul McCartney had them record his composition "Come And Get It" for the film "The Magic Christian," starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. Paul produced the track and played piano and maracas. The result was an infectiously catchy pop classic that reached number seven on the U.S. charts. He also assisted the group with two other songs recorded for the movie's soundtrack.
"Carry On Till Tomorrow" is a beautiful ballad with introspective lyrics and a politely raunchy guitar solo. The song was produced by Mal Evans with an uncredited Paul McCartney. George Martin conducted the song's string arrangement. "Rock Of All Ages" was written by Tom, Pete and Mike with an uncredited assist by Paul, who co-produced the session (most likely with Mal Evans, though Tony Visconti is officially given production credit), played its frenetic piano and may have sung background vocals. The song is an all-out rocker in the Little Richard-style of the Beatles "I'm Down." It was the B-side to "Come And Get It."
Not surprisingly, the three songs produced by Paul are the highlights of the album, but there are other gems from the early Iveys' sessions. "Crimson Ship" and "Midnight Sun" are effective rockers, while "Dear Angie," Beautiful And Blue" and "Walk Out In The Rain" join "Maybe Tomorrow" as ballads with tasty guitar and memorable melodies. The remastered album has five bonus tracks, including an unreleased alternate version of "And Her Daddy's A Millionaire."
If you bought the album in 1970 and/or purchased the CD in 1991, you'll certainly want to own this remaster. If you passed on this album in the past, now would be a good time to get acquainted.
Additional information about the artists who recorded for Apple Records can be found in Bruce Spizer's book "The Beatles Solo on Apple Records." Bruce Spizer is the author of a series of critically acclaimed books on the Beatles American record releases. He also wrote "The Beatles Are Coming! The Birth of Beatlemania in America," which is the definitive book on the subject. He served as editor and publisher of "Price Guide for the Beatles American Records," which was written by Perry Cox and Frank Daniels. Bruce is currently working with Frank Daniels on a new book covering the Beatles U.K. record releases from the sixties titled "Beatles For Sale on Parlophone Records." He has served as a consultant for EMI/Capitol Records on Beatles projects. Information regarding his books can be found at his website www.beatle.net.
Published November 24, 2010
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