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Head First Original recording remastered

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, November 14, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

If Badfinger never quite shook off the mixed-blessings of its early Beatles associations, they at least carved out a comfortable niche for themselves in the early 1970s, largely by carrying on the sterling pop sense of their famous sponsors. Sadly, the Fab Four parallels wouldn't end there; Badfinger, too, ultimately fell victim to recriminations and rapacious record-biz dealings, but with more tragic results. Just months after finishing the December '74 sessions for this last album, band leader Pete Ham committed suicide (bandmate Tom Evans would follow suit eight years later) and its session tapes would eventually vanish into the mists of memory and mystery. Like many an unreleased project, Head First then became something of a lost legend. This double-disc set marks its first release, packaged with a second disc of album demos and outtakes. Though the album finally presented here is a sonically imperfect rough-mix tape, the band's fabled pop genius still shines through, especially on "Lay Me Down," "Keep Believing," and "Turn Around." Still, there's an inescapable sense of bitterness that bubbles to the surface, especially in Evans's rough-hewn "Hey Mr. Manager" and "Rock 'N' Roll Contract." Only drummer Mike Gibbins seems to shake it all off with the good-natured "Moonshine" and "Rockin' Machine." Fans of Ham's demo anthologies on Ryko will find a few more gems on the second disc, though even his normally upbeat demeanor is laced with frustration on "Smokin' Guns," "Nothing to Show," and "I Can't Believe In." A bittersweet epitaph to a great band--and a sobering lesson in the sordid business of pop music. -Jerry McCulley

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Lay Me Down
  2. Hey, Mr. Manager
  3. Keep Believing
  4. Passed Fast
  5. Rock 'N' Roll Contract
  6. Saville Row
  7. Moonshine
  8. Back Again
  9. Turn Around
  10. Rockin' Machine

Disc: 2

  1. Time Is Mine
  2. Smokin' Gun
  3. Old Fashioned Notions
  4. Nothing To Show
  5. You Ask Yourself Why
  6. Keep Your Country Tidy
  7. To Say Goodbye
  8. Queen Of Darkness
  9. I Can't Believe In
  10. Thanks To You All
  11. Lay Me Down (Demo)

Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 14, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Snapper UK
  • ASIN: B00004ZDR0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,614 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Hummel on September 9, 2002
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Headfirst, Badfinger's last studio album is worth buying as part documentary evidence of its demise, part musical value. That having been said, however, I think the band was in sharp decline musically at the time this was recorded--of course this was brought on by their wretched emotional state in reaction to their exploitive contractual situation. Anyone who buys this album will want to buy the book "Without You," which documents the band's tragedy and serves as a warning to any aspiring musician.
I highly recommend that you buy Golder's Green and 7 Park Avenue, the two posthomous collections of band leader Pete Ham's home recordings. Ham, apparently, was strongly committed to the band and its democratic structure, but when one compares Ham's output to the rest of the band, it seems they both made a big mistake thinking Ham was anything other than a superior talent who should have had at least half of each album reserved for his songs. Ham's work is more melodic, more rhythmic, better lyrically, and he flat out sings circles around his mates. Badfinger soared in direct proportion to the number of Ham compositions on each album, in my opinion. Apparently, Ham was often frustrated when his mates rejected numerous of his songs. Hard to figure.
Head First's Ham compositions (especially Lay Me Down, Smokin' Gun, Nothing To Show, and Keep Your Country Tidy) are the main highlights. although "Rockin' Machine" on the first CD is charming, and some of the demos on the second CD are actually better unfinished--sometimes the band overwhelmed the gentler material by going a little too heavy. I really think that the other members besides Ham were bottoming out creatively when this was made, a trend that one could see through the band's history.
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Format: Audio CD
Longtime fans of Badfinger have been waiting twenty-five years for the release of this album. And as long as you aren't expecting another Straight Up or No Dice and accept this for what it is, you won't be disappointed. What you are getting is a rough-mix version of what was to be their follow-up to the critically acclaimed Wish You Were Here. It would have been their fourth album in sixteen months! But I'm guessing that if you're reading this, you're familiar with the tragic details that kept Warner Brothers from releasing this album. So let's get to the music.
The ten tracks that make up disc one clocks in at 33:38; the demo disc is a mere 26:53. But for any serious Badfinger fan, you need this if only to confirm what Badfinger was still capable of doing musically.
The four strongest tracks on disc one are the four that Rhino was able to get from Warner Brothers when they released Badfinger's Best Of, Vol. II in 1990 featuring their WB catalog. [That album is still worth getting if only to hear the master tape versions of these songs, instead of Mike Gibbins' tape copy.]
"Lay Me Down" - This is Pete Ham at his power pop best. This could have been a huge single for them. [The solo demo at the end of disc two is a very early version where Ham hasn't worked out all the lyrics yet.]
"Keep Believing" - This is Ham's message to recently departed bandmate Joey Molland and shows the cynicism that was creeping into Ham's lyrics. Ham had tried to maintain his optimism, but certainly was realizing how the band had been manipulated.
"Passed Fast" - Co-written by Tom Evans and new member Bob Jackson. A mid-tempo rocker that features a nice guitar part by Ham on the coda.
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Format: Audio CD
This was supposed to be Badfinger's 3rd album, but several reasons it was not released until year 2000. But well worth waiting for.
The recordings for Badfinger's third Warner album began at the end of November 1974. You would expect the members of the band at this point to be totally exhausted from touring, financial worries and the departure of Molland; and of course they were. Never the less they were still convinced that they could/had to work their way out of their crisis. For their latest British tour they had recruited Bob Jackson (keyb.), because of a short departure of Pete Ham. This tour had been as a 5-piece and by the end of the tour Molland had left the band. Two you producers were found for the new album; Kenny Kerner and Ritchie Wise - before Badfinger they had produced The Stories.
New songs did not come easily to Pete Ham at this point; he was losing faith in the the whole thing, but he worked hard to come up with more quality material. Of his three contributions for Head First the two of them are among his best ever. The opener "Lay Me Down" is a very catchy and powerful rocker with great commercial potential. "Keep Believing" is a typical Ham ballad; a very beautiful melody. Pete's third track is a short instrumental called "Saville Row". Tom Evans is back as a very important songwriter on the album. He'd written two songs alone and two songs in collaboration with with Mike and Mike/Bob. The first two are angry comments to the music business; both of them very intense; especially Mr. Manager is bound to become an all-time Badfinger favourite. Rock'n Roll Contract was rerecorded for Say No More, but this version is much better - I love the middle part.
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