PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Badfinger: Live: Day After Day

Jon Langmead

Reissue of the disputed 'live' document from the troubled, tragic, and sometimes magnificent '70s band.


Live: Day After Day

Label: Rykodisc
US Release Date: 2005-05-05
UK Release Date: Available as import
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate

Live: Day After Day is a reissue of a previously out-of-print album originally issued by Rykodisc in 1990. That this "live" album's original release was bogged down in lawsuits and infighting between the surviving band members, the families of the deceased members, and other band representatives is sadly fitting. A recent and enthusiastic convert to the band -- but by no means an archivist -- the best I can piece the story together is that in the midst of the band falling apart in the mid 70s, departing guitarist Joey Molland and his wife -- without really telling any of the other members -- maybe stole, maybe took for safe-keeping from the band's studio live tapes of a 1974 Badfinger concert. In 1989, he cleaned up the tapes by over-dubbing an oppressively loud and horrendously sampled snare drum, re-recording his own guitar parts and vocals, most likely adding new harmony vocals and bass guitar, and re-ordering the songs so that his own make up four of the album's first five tracks and Pete Ham's five contributions are pushed to the last half of the album.

Molland took the tapes to Rykodisc, believing that he had sole rights to the tapes and that he had sufficiently notified drummer Mike Gibbins, the only other living member from the band's original line-up, which is represented on the album, as well as the widows of guitarist Pete Ham and bassist Tom Evans. Apparently he didn't, though, and the contract he signed to put the album out gave him all of the album's sales royalties. When any party who could be making money from the album found out about its release, lawsuits ensued over exactly who had rights to the original tapes, who knew about the album before it came out, how sales should be split, and how much was due to Molland for his production work. After the case was finally settled, a decision was passed down on how to split the sales royalties amongst all the parties. Pitifully, nothing was left after legal fees.

Whatever the truth of the situation, it doesn't change the fact that this recording is thoroughly joyless, and the last place someone curious about the band should look. Having not heard the original release, it's hard to imagine any of the sound issues were fixed on this reissue. The snare drum is still painfully loud and harsh, and most of the guitars and many of the vocals were clearly not recorded live. The mangled track order is also left intact, and it's really a waste that Molland ordered the songs in the way that he did. He sings four of the first five songs while Ham's contributions are left to the last five tracks, undoing any kind of variety. It completely undermines one of the major advantages -- in the form of three capable lead vocalists -- that Badfinger was fortunate to have.

Ham, who took his own life the year after the concert that this album represents, was largely responsible for the band's most popular and best songs. The three on this album -- "Baby Blue", "Name of the Game", and "Day After Day" -- are songs six, seven, and eight, and nothing in the album's first half can match them, making the whole thing feel woefully lopsided. Many contend that Badfinger felt that they were too readily seen as a polished studio act and wanted to be taken more seriously as a hard rock band. Certainly, the track selection and indulgent guitar workouts here would attest to that. Personally I think there's too many of the latter kinds of bands and not enough of the former who really warrant the money spent on their studio time, so I'll take Ham's singles over five-minute solos any day.

There's still a lot that needs to be said about Badfinger: about how everything they were trying to express seemed to be just so beautifully beyond their means and how that adds to their sad appeal; about their legacy as real pop craftsmen; about how they were brought up in the withering shadow of the Beatles but still impossibly managed to thrive for a brief period. But talking about it in the context of this album is hardly appropriate. As it's essentially a studio album posing as a live album, it really only makes sense to compare it to the band's other studio albums, to which it can't begin to stand up. New fans and the curious are wise to start early with No Dice and Straight Up, making their way backwards and forwards through the band's catalog according to taste, while always dodging this pothole of a release.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.