Straight Up is a big disappointment coming after Badfinger's previous superb album, No Dice. I remember reading a quote by drummer Mike Gibbons saying that Straight Up would be a "natural progression" from the previous albumas is usually the case with such supposed progressions, the result here is self-consciousness in place of spontaneity, solemnity in the place of former exuberance, and a general all-around deadness where infectious energy was previously the rule.
Most often of all, the first of former virtues to fall by the wayside is that of unabashed rock and roll energy, and that's what has happened here. The result is a barely decent album, one which is the poorest of Badfinger's three LPs and by far the least likeable.
It's hard to say where the blame lies. The quality of the songwriting (split up evenly here between Pete Ham, Tom Evans, and Joey Molland) is down all around; the melodies that Badfinger had previously excelled in are just not anywhere as plentiful here. The productionTodd Rundgren, some George Harrison is decidedly inferior to what Badfinger have had in the past, particularly in the atrociously muddy sound of the vocals. Peter Ham's great guitar work, one of the factors that made him so prominent on No Dice, seems to be already a thing of the past.
Most of all though, and it really hurts to say this, there just isn't any rock and roll spirit on this album: that magic scooby-doo, whatever you want to call it, is gone. Straight Up is completely devoid of the handful of energetic ravers Badfinger have included on previous albums and which acted as keys to the music's overall vitality; added the lack of Badfinger's former lightweight pop virtues, this is the worst thing that could have possibly happened to the group.
Basically Straight Up shows the case of yet another talented but directionless group, one that've somehow convinced themselves that they have to do something more serious, more polished, than just plain old rocking out. The mystery is that No Dice was so good, and yet this album so lacking in the qualities that made Badfinger's first two LPs so engaging. And Badfinger seemed to have so much potential. Few groups have ever combined the joyous spirit of pop-ish rock and roll with a real hard rock soundthe Small Faces and Flamin Groovies looked as if they were about to do it in a never-equaled fashion, both unfortunately to break up at their peakif anyone ever does completely it'll be a real milestone of an event, and Badfinger seemed to have the right ingredients to give it a shot in a lightweight rock sort of fashion. Well, as the saying goes, kaput.
There were many comparisons made of Magic Christian Music and No Dice to the Beatles' Help period, and the analogies were apt. With Straight Up, Badfinger seem to have already reached the Beatles' Revolver stage: a stultifying self-conscious artiness, a loss of previous essential virtues, and far too much general farting around. Which just goes to show, I guess, that the 1964-5 days of regular AM hits and an expected output of three LPs a year from name groups were a lot healthier than we had ever dreamed. It sure is disheartening to wait a whole year for an album as disappointing as this one. (RS 100)
(Posted: Jun 17, 1997)
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Review 1 of 2
if only todd had the vocal and writing chops of pete and joey. he would be regarded as the king of power pop. i bought this album twice on vinyl and once on cd. of course alot of people say this is the best album the beatles never released. if you have the original cd you have the tracks produced by geoff emerick. you have to admit that those are very flat. todd and george took some incredible songs and gave them a timeless sound. it is heartbreaking to hear those beautiful harmonies, and realize those cats have left us. straight up is always going to be my favorite anything.
Apr 14, 2006 18:19:12
Review 2 of 2
Badfinger was truely an awesome band that never gets the rave reviews it deserves but I will give one now!!! Straight up is a great album although most believe it was a letdown following up the amazing No Dice album This album has some great songs, Baby Blue shows how a great power pop song should be written, Day after day is a classic even if it does sound like it belonged on a George Harrison album, Suitcase & Sometimes & Sweet Tuesday morning shows Joe Molland in fine form as well as being 3 of the strongest songs off this album, My main complaint is the fact that Todd rundgren & george injected too much of thierown personality into the production & cost badfinger a bit of it's identity. But dont let that fool you into believeing this is a failing, the album is still better than most of whats come out by bands who are Perched on lofty stature & enshrined in the so called rock n roll hall of fame, P.S Badfinger belongs in there as well
Dec 25, 2005 13:14:54