Design by Gene Mahon and Richard DiLello

NO DICE

ALBUM: NO DICE

BAND: BADFINGER
YEAR: 11/9/1970
 

reviewed by NADJA DEE

KEY to this album
(Hint: The closer to center white, the more Power Pop)

This Power Pop Classic is a mix of pure Power Pop, Country Western, Ballads and Rock 'n Roll music with a heavy Beatle influence.

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BADFINGER

NO DICE

Released 11/9/1970

Apple Records

 

Musicians:   BADFINGER
                     Pete Ham (Guitar, Piano, Vocals)
                     Tom Evans (Bass Guitar, Vocals)
                     Joey Molland (Guitar, Vocals)
                     Mike Gibbins (Drums)
                     Scott Tobin (Bass Guitar on 'Broken From The Start')

                           
Producer:    Geoff Emerick

Producer:    Mal Evans

Engineers:  John Kurlander

                    Richard Lush

TRACKS

SIDE 1

1. I Can't Take It (2:54) Pete Ham

2. I Don't Mind (3:13) Tom Evans/Joey Molland

3. Love Me Do (2:57) Joey Molland

4. Midnight Caller (2:48) Tom Evans/Pete Ham

5. No Matter What (2:59) Pete Ham

6. Without You (4:42) Tom Evans/Pete Ham

SIDE 2

7. Blodwyn (3:42) Pete Ham

8. Better Days (3:59) Tom Evans/Joey Molland

9. It Had To Be (2:27) Mike Gibbins

10. Watford John (3:21) Tom Evans/Pete Ham/Mike Gibbins/Joey Molland

11. Believe Me (2:58) Tom Evans

12. We're For The Dark (3:51) Pete Ham

             

 

       or a band that should have been "The next Beatles," everyone knows the tragic story that became the Badfinger legend. In fact, today, it's impossible to hear the name Badfinger and not think about the sad ending of Pete Ham and Tom Evans lives. Talented beyond belief, another tragedy to the world of music.  

It's been EXACTLY 50 YEARS since this album was released, and dang that's a long time. 

So, why review it now?

Well, I started Hop On Power Pop to promote and celebrate Power Pop music. Mostly, we focus on new releases, the Power Pop that's happening today. But, today's Power Pop band's didn't get to where they are without acknowledging the brilliant music that came before them. And that goes for all the bands.

With that said, that's where this new series of CLASSIC POWER POP ALBUM reviews comes into play. 

It is my hope that between all the newer album reviews, I'm going to try to review albums that are considered Power Pop touchstones in this genre. These are the albums that, most folks would agree, make up the Power Pop bible. Most of these albums came out many years, even decades ago, and there will be albums that Hop On Power Pop will label as Power Pop Classics that aren't very old, but to us, they qualify as classics. Time is an ever changing beast and there's very little we can do to slow it down. 

Model: Only known as "Kathy"

My biggest challenge in reviewing this album was a matter of time frame. No Dice is an album full of  songs that are so well known and loved by me that they're a part of my Power Pop DNA.  It's been exactly half a century since the album came out and I have the advantage of hindsight. It's like showing someone the Mona Lisa and asking if they think it's a good painting? Of course it is, it's the flipping MONA LISA! 

We already know so much about the tragedy that is Badfinger. The two, pointless losses of some of the greatest musical talent the world has ever known. But, let's not talk about that right now. Let's celebrate the great album that is No Dice.

John Lennon wanted to call the band " Prix "

Paul mCcartney wanted

mother's helper

In the 1997 Badfinger documentary by Gary J. Katz, Joey Molland says that John Lennon wanted to call the band "Prix" and McCartney wanted "Mother's Helper" to be their name. It was Neil Aspinall who came up with the name Badfinger, which stuck. 

But there's countless footage, articles and books on this great band, where you can learn all those details about Badfinger. Let's focus on this album, No Dice.

I picked the band's 2nd album No Dice, over the first album Magic Christian Music because it's the album with my favorite Badfinger songs on it. Namely, Midnight Caller, Without You, Believe Me and the best Power Pop song ever written, No Matter What. 

I strongly believe that Power Pop wouldn't exist without a song like No Matter What, even though Apple Record executives didn't feel the song was strong enough to be released as a single.  Can you spell IDIOT?

Knock down the old brick wall

And be a part of it all

(...or fall off the old brick wall I guess?)

Village Idiot from Monty Python

Again, with the advantage of hindsight, we know just how wrong the Apple Record execs were about this great Power Pop classic. According to Wikipedia, "It was the band's first UK Top 10 single to be composed by Badfinger, reaching number 5 in the UK in January 1971. In the US it peaked at number 8 on Billboard Hot 100."

The song didn't start out as the fast paced rocker that you know today. It was a slower, more acoustic song as heard on Pete Ham's 1997 posthumously released album 7 Park Avenue, as No Matter What (demo)

Track #8: No Matter What (Demo)

And also on the band's first recording of the song, back in 1970 with Mal Evan's producing.

Track: No Matter What (Full Band Mono Studio Demo)

08 No Matter What
No Matter What (Mono Studio Demo Version

But it's the faster version we know and love today that places this band in the Power Pop elite, the Power Pop Hall of Fame, reserved for bands like The Raspberries, 20/20, Shoes and other bands of that caliber. 

Track #5: No Matter What

 

Music Video for No Matter What (Beatles Archives)

But let's talk about that later. 

 

What surprises me about No Dice is that for an album that's considered a Power Pop classic, there sure is a lot of country/western style music on this album. Maybe, if I was able to review this album back in 1970, this would be a very different interview. But, unless someone invents a time machine, there's no way to do that now.

 

No Dice is the first album to feature Joey Molland, the only surviving original member of Badfinger. It's technically the 2nd album from Badfinger, the 3rd if you count the start of the band from their days as The Iveys. 

The reason I didn't want to choose Magic Christian Music as the first Badfinger album to review is that Magic Christian Music always felt thrown together to me. It feels like the soundtrack to the movie, The Magic Christian, starring Peter Sellars and Ringo Starr. The album also starts off with Come And Get It, a song not written by any members of Badfinger but by Paul McCartney. It's a great song, but it's not Badfinger. It's Badfinger covering Paul McCartney. I felt like No Dice was really the band's first album as a complete, independent entity, Badfinger. 

Come And Get It from The Magic Christian

Track: Come And Get (Paul McCartney)

The Magic Christian Opening 

Come And Get It

From The Beatles Anthology 3

The album starts with Track #1 I Can't Take It, an absolute rocker by Pete Ham. 

Track 1: I Can't Take It

It's really obvious that, like The Beatles, Pete Ham and Tom Evans are the main singer/songwriters of the band. When watching footage of Pete Ham, I can't help but see John Lennon in his playing stance and facial expressions. Tom Evans, on bass, reminds me of Paul McCartney.

That's not to take away anything from Joey Molland or even drummer Mike Gibbins. But, most of the songs we know well from Badfinger were penned by Pete Ham and/or Tom Evans.

01 I Can't Take It

McCartney, Lennon and Harrison in concert in 1963. Photograph: Sharok Hatami/Rex/Shutterstock

02 I Don't Mind

Track #2 I Don't Mind, is a slower number penned by Tom Evans with new member Joey Molland, who replaced Ron Griffiths from the previous line-up. To me, the song has a very Crosby, Stills and Nash feeling to it, even though CSN came after Badfinger formed.  The song proves the harmonizing talents of Badfinger between Ham-Evans-Molland, together, they harmonized the band to the sound that became Badfinger, much like the way Lennon-McCartney-Harrison together make the distinct sound of The Beatles.

 

 

 

Track 2: I Don't Mind

In case the Beatles' influence wasn't strong enough, the next song Love Me Do has the same song title as The Beatles' 1962 hit song. It's Joey Molland's first solo songwriting credit Badfinger song. 

Track 3: Love Me Do

But the similarities end there, as Badfinger's Love Me Do, sounds nothing like their label's owners song from 8 years earlier. Love Me Do is a meatier, rockier number and sounds closer to a number from The Beatles' White Album or Abbey Road than the harmonica ditty we know as The Beatles debut single. 

Love Me Do (The Beatles)

03 Love Me Do

Love me do (The Beatles), 1963. Full video restored ℗ Calderstone Productions Limited

And then tracks 4-6 make up the album's "hat trick," the big three songs that even if Badfinger hadn't released another song in their run, should've cemented their place in musical history. 

  • MIDNIGHT CALLER

  • NO MATTER WHAT

  • WITHOUT YOU

 

 

 

 

 

 

All three songs were written by Pete Ham, with Without You co-written by Ham and Tom Evans. 

It's hard to believe that so many great songs could be on the No Dice album. Starting with Midnight Caller,  it's a sad song about a lonely woman.

With lyrics like:

She reads her daily book of the past
That shows of everyone


And though she paints a smile on her face
He won't be back no more


She's got no saint to follow
She's got no place to go

Grey years that show in her hair
Can't be, but don't seem to care
She knocks the door and there's no one there

Midnight Caller could be a follow-up to the character of Eleanor Rigby, call it Eleanor Rigby Part 2. The stripped down, piano version of Midnight Caller from Pete Ham's Golder's Green collection of demo's makes me think even more of Eleanor Rigby.

Midnight Caller (Pete Ham Demo)

Track #4 Midnight Caller (Badfinger)

16 Midnight Caller
04 Midnight Caller

I've already spoken about No Matter What in this review. It's a track that I think so highly about that it comes in at the Number #1 spot in Hop On Power Pop's 100 Favorite Power Pop songs.

FUN FACT: Did you know that Andy from Shutup & Play Guitar Tutorials thinks that Geoff Emerick & Badfinger got the idea of putting the guitar through the Leslie amp from George Harrison and Eric Clapton's Cream song Badge, when they did it in 1969?

How To Play No Matter What (Shutup & Play)

Another interesting songfact about No Matter What is the use of a "false ending," for the song. At exactly 2:35 to 2:36.5, the song stops, only to continue a few seconds later. Apparently, this caused undue hardship to radio DJ's around the world, who all thought the song had ended abruptly, scrambled to fill the next slot, only to have the song start up again and finish fifteen seconds later. A few seconds may seem like a miniscule amount to us, but in "on-air radio time," it's an eternity of dead air. 

No Matter What (False Ending Section)

05 No Matter What {False ending)

YouTube instruction video by Andy of Shutup & Play

Now to talk about the legendary tune that is Without You. If this song hasn't moved you at some point in your life, then I strongly suggest you check into the nearest hospital room, because you are missing a heart. 

Track #6 Without You

Wizard Of Oz, Tinman Wants a Heart (1939)

Rare television performance of Without You by Badfinger (1972)

Without You was written jointly by Pete Ham and Tom Evans. The song was a perfect blending of two different songs by Pete Ham and Tom Evans.

 

Pete Ham had a song titled, "If It's Love," but he thought the song lacked a strong chorus. Pete Ham's song had the lyrics:

Well I can't forget tomorrow 

When I think of all my sorrow 

I had you there but then I let you go 

And now it's only fair that I should let you know

If it's love

Tom Evans had a song titled, "I Can't Live," with the lyrics:

 

I can't live

If living is without you 

I can't live 

I can't give any more

The merging of the songs isn't much different than the way Lennon and McCartney worked, taking a song like A Day In The Life for example, except Without You is even a more seamless blend of two songs, and not just the middle eighth. I doubt either song, would have been as strong on their own, like a perfect marriage, it's much better together as one.

It's another example how both Pete Ham and Tom Evan were equally strong songwriters in the band that made Badfinger revered to the degree it is today. 

This song has been covered by over 180 artists, including:

  • Air Supply

  • David Brookings

  • Shirley Bassey

  • Glen Campbell

  • Mariah Carey (Billboard #3)

  • Petula Clark

  • Heart

  • Engelbert Humperdinck

  • Laurence Juber

  • Johnny Mathis

  • Stevie Riks

  • and many more...

But the most famous cover of Without You has to go to Harry Nilsson where it reached No#1 on The Billboard 100 Charts. His version is played so much that people often think he wrote the song. 

Without You (Harry Nilsson cover)

Rare piano demo version of Harry Nilsson singing Without You

While it'll never reach the 1,600+ covers of The Beatle's Yesterday, Without You has been covered a lot. One of my favorite versions is by the UK's top impersonator, musician, singer-songwriter Stevie Riks. He does a blend of the Badfinger and Nilsson version in his cover of this amazing song that stays very true to the original.

Without You (Stevie Riks cover)

Did you know that Stevie Riks also sings the Hop On Power Pop theme song? If you haven't checked out his music, HOPP over to YouTube and search for Mr. Riks impressions of John, Paul, George, Ringo, Bowie, Elvis (Both Presley & Costello), The Bee Gees, Oasis, Freddie Mercury and many, many more. He also has released original music too.  I'm proud to call him a friend. (Love you Stevie!)

Again, this song is so powerful, that if you aren't moved (to tears) by it then I seriously think you either have no heart or you could be a psychopath. If you need further proof, watch this great reaction video to Harry Nilsson's version on JayveeTV. The guy is so sincere and his reactions are so pure that they truly show the power of music.

Without You Reaction Video (JayveeTV)

Stevie Riks cover of Without You

JayveeTV YouTube Reaction Video

Without You is such a massive song that this entire review could be about that one song. But let's get to the remaining 6 tracks on No Dice. As Bon Jovi said, "Ooh hoo we're half way there..."

 

At this point, you may ask, why are you only going to cover just 12 tracks, when the special, deluxe, re-release editions contain up to 17 songs?

 

Firstly, it's because this review is long enough. Secondly, I want to review the album the way it was first released, not the re-releases with all the extra tracks. 

Albums were released with great planning put into what songs started and ended a side, meaning the A-Side and the B-Side of the album. It wasn't a streaming of tracks, or a shuffling of tracks. You also didn't just get a single track released, you got at least 2 songs, the songs that the people in power (Not insight, just power) felt were the strongest. "I don't hear a single," is the death knoll to a band's follow up release, ask around, you'll see I'm right.

At this point, it would be time to flip the vinyl. Physically, get up off your bean bag chair and turn the album over to Side B. 

 

If you still had any energy after listening to the the devastatingly beautiful Without You, and could flip over or if you have a tape deck that would flip over to Side 2, you were then treated to Blodwyn, another track by Pete Ham. 

NO DICE: B SIDE 

Non-Power Pop singer Jon Bon Jovi has a message for you all

Blodwyn is a rollicking, country western style track about a girl named Blodwyn. 

Blodwyn

Is a girl's name of Welsh origin that means Fair Flower 

Track #6 Blodwyn

Blodwyn is a good song, it's not Power Pop, but it's a good song. It reminds me of the scene in The Blues Brother's where they pose as The Good Ole Boys and play a hard edged country western bar. The attempt to play their usual material, Gimme Some Lovin', but the angry crowd of country boys don't want to hear Blues music, so they start throwing beer bottles at them. The club owner turns off the stage lights on them, until they launch into the one country song they know, the theme song to Rawhide! Blodwyn could be Badfinger's Rawhide. 

The Blues Brothers: Rawhide Scene

 

 

 

 

If you still had any energy after listening to the the devastatingly beautiful Without You, and could flip over or if you have a tape deck that would flip over to Side 2, you were then treated to Blodwyn, another track by Pete Ham. 

07 Blodwyn

The Blues Brothers (1980) Directed by John Landis

Badfinger were such a talented band, that they would've made it no matter who signed them. They weren't limited to musical styles as No Dice shows a mastery of rock, country, Power Pop and blues style ballads. 

Track #8 Better Days was the B-Side to No Matter What's A-Side.

Track #8 Better Days

This Tom Evans/Joey Molland collaborations was one of the strongest tracks by the pair.  Again, it has a very strong country vibe to the melody and singing style, a blend of Country-Western & Power Pop.  

R-8478115-1462393266-6303.jpeg
8b2b66db
R-6823496-1434050241-2877.jpeg
08 Better Days

Track #9 It Had To Be is the first track written by drummer Mike Gibbins. Both Gibbins and Pete Ham sing on the prog rock feeling track. It's one of the better ballads on the album, and one wonders how much assistance Pete Ham gave Mike Gibbins on the song, complete with Beatles' Sun King style angelic harmonies and fuzzy slide guitar moments. 

Track #9 It Had To Be

09 It Had To Be

Track #10 Watford John is an obvious nod to Elvis Presley, with a lyric about a Teddy Bear, a bop-bop-a-lop do-wop lyric and I wouldn't be surprised if it was a song that inspired Cheap Trick at some point. 

I don't want a Cinderella
I just want my teddy bear
I don't want a backstage Bella
I just want to take you there
Baby, won't you think it over?
Try and see my point of view
Come on baby won't you tell me no!
Bop bop-a-lop do-wop
Let it go, let it go, let it go

Track #10 Watford John

 

It's the only song on the original album release that was credited to the entire band as songwriters. Maybe it was a result of a jam session? 

At one point in 2015 a custom Apple Records 7" containing "I Can't Live" (Later known as "Without You") and "Watford John" was up for sale on eBay according to Roots Vinyl Guide. The rare record sold for $692.06 USD.

10 Watford John

Rare 7" Custom Apple Disc for sale on eBay (February 2015)

I think Track #11 Believe Me, is one of the best songs that Tom Evans wrote. It's melodic, beautiful, well sung and powerful. It shows off all the best talents that Tom brought to the group.  

Track #11 Believe Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Believe Me is another example of the band at their best. Tom Evans is a great singer, can hit the high notes with ease and power. Pete Ham on keyboards shows his versatility and he sings backup as if he wrote the lyrics himself, it's easy to see why he related to these particular lyrics. And then the drumming by Mike Gibbins is top notch and another amazing guitar lead by Joey Molland. It's like witnessing The Beatles during the Rubber Soul/Revolver period...tight!

Badfinger Television Performance  (1972)

The last song on the album ends the album on a somber note. Track #12  We're For The Dark is another Pete Ham number. 

Track #12 We're For The Dark

At the very least, it's an underrated song. Sometimes the power of a song cannot be realized until it's covered by another artist in a slightly different manner. That happened for me when Scott Miller covered the song with his band The Loud Family. Scott improved upon the song and gave it the feeling like it was a Badfinger song covered by Big Star. 

 

We're For The Dark (The Loud Family Cover)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 We're For The Dark

From the album "Come And Get It: A Tribute To Badfinger" (1996)

That wraps up this album review of Badfinger's No Dice, the first in a series I'm calling Power Pop Classics Album Reviews. I may be crazy in taking on such a revered opus like No Dice, but nobody got very far by playing it safe, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unless someone can invent a working time machine, I can't go back and review these albums when they came out. It's impossible, so I can only attempt to give my honest take on these pillars of the Power Pop vaults today. I'll do my best to share how these albums hold up, maybe give some insight into why they're as revered as they are today and maybe learn a few things along the way. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

we're not worthy!

If you like these Power Pop Classics you can purchase them in many different formats, different countries and various editions. No Dice can be found with the addition of a minimum of 5 bonus tracks that didn't make the original release. There's a Japanese re-release, and a remastered deluxe edition with 19 tracks from 2010. The main thing is to support musicians by buying their music. I know that this release is 50 years old now, but please don't steal music. It takes the enjoyment away. 

If you're thinking about taking music for free, I will quote Badfinger.

 

 

NO DICE

AS ALWAYS, PLEASE SUPPORT INDEPENDENT MUSIC!

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUY IT HERE! 

AMAZON

https://www.amazon.com/No-Dice-Badfinger/dp/B003XKMS9K

AMAZON DELUXE EDITION

https://www.amazon.com/No-Dice-Deluxe-Remastered-2010/dp/B073JWM47F

LINKS

FACEBOOK

https://www.facebook.com/OriginalBadfinger/

TWITTER

https://twitter.com/badfinger_offcl?lang=en

BADFINGER LIBRARY

http://www.badfingerlibrary.com/

TOM BRENNAN'S BADFINGER NO DICE PAGE

http://badfinge.ipower.com/Badfinger/Badfinger_albums/NoDice.html

WIKIPEDIA PAGE

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badfinger

YOU TUBE

https://www.youtube.com/user/BadfingerIveys

JOEY MOLLAND'S BADFINGER PAGE

http://smarturl.it/joeymolland

DISCLAIMER: HOP ON POWER POP doesn't give stars, a grade or any sort of quantifiable rating. What HOP ON POWER POP does is let you know what H.O.P.P. thought of the music by the band at this particular time. If an album isn't to our liking or fitting into the Power Pop genre enough, we simply won't review it.

                  Go to HOP ON POWER POP ALBUM REVIEW GUIDELINES

for more information:

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