Badfinger – Straight Up Power Pop

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  • This KILLER copy boasts Double Plus sound (A++) on both sides of this brilliant early Apple pressing with some of the quietest vinyl we have heard in a long while
  • Clean, clear and dynamic with tons of space and transparency, this is the way to hear this band’s masterpiece 
  • The sound here just JUMPS out of the speakers, which is exactly what the best copies of the album are supposed to (but rarely) do
  • 4 1/2 stars: “This fine songwriting, combined with sharp performances and exquisite studio craft, make Straight Up one of the cornerstones of power-pop, a record that proved that it was possible to make classic guitar-pop after its golden era had passed.” 

For fans of the band — and Power Pop in general — this is the Straight Up you have been waiting for!

We rarely do shootouts for this album, not because we don’t like the record or have enough customers for it; rather it’s the fact that clean copies of the album just aren’t out there in the bins the way they used to be. Two or three a year is all we can find, and that’s with hitting the stores every week. Subtract the noisy and groove-damaged ones and you don’t have much to work with until years have gone by.

The Sound

Good copies of this record, ones that are mastered properly and pressed on “good” vinyl, sound a lot like a stipped down version of Abbey Road, which is what they’re supposed to sound like. That’s clearly the sound Badfinger and their producers George Harrison and Todd Rundgren (with some help from the Beatles’ engineer Geoff Emerick* ) were aiming at.

You will also hear some influences from All Things Must Pass and McCartney’s first. The music owes a lot to both The Beatles as well as Harrison and McCartney as individuals. What’s not to like? Catchy pop songs with grungy guitars — it’s ear candy when the sound is good, and the sound is very good here!

Power Pop

This is Power Pop, plain and simple. The basics are what count: punchy drums, grungy guitars, present vocals, clear but full bass lines — just the meat and potatoes of rock, no need for them fancy sauces.

For this music to work all the elements need to be in balance, with correct timbre for the relatively few instruments that make up the arrangements. Opacity, smear or grit instantly destroy the whole point of having a straightforward production, which is to be able to have all the parts laid out cleanly and clearly. Get the production out of the way and just let the music speak for itself.

The truly Hot Stampers remind you of the kind of basic rock and roll record that really knows how to rock. Back in Black comes instantly to mind. Black Dog off Zep IV. This is the sound you want your Straight Up to have. The title of the album is the key to the sound. No fancy packaging, just a great batch of songs by the band, Straight Up.

A True Classic of Classic Rock

What the best sides of this Album from 1971 have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl domestic pressings like this one offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1971
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the horns, guitars and drums having the correct sound for this kind of recording
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now

Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

DCC Gold

I was at a friend’s house years ago and had brought a Hot Copy of this record over to see what it sounded like on his system. As luck would have it, he also had the DCC Gold CD. This is a fellow who prides himself on having CD playback that is competitive with vinyl, so I know that his CD player was fairly good. This LP KILLED his Gold CD. It was NIGHT AND DAY better in every way. I am not an expert on the DCC Gold disc of Badfinger, but I can tell you that on Straight Up a good record can’t be beat.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Take It All 
Baby Blue 
Money 
Flying
I’d Die Babe 
Name of the Game

Side Two

Suitcase
Sweet Tuesday Morning
Day After Day
Sometimes
Perfection
It’s Over

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

… Frankly, the increased production is for the best, since Badfinger sounds best when there’s as much craft in the production as there is in the writing. Here, there’s absolutely no filler and everybody is in top form. Pete Ham’s “Baby Blue” is textbook power-pop — irresistibly catchy fuzz riffs and sighing melodies — and with its Harrison-esque slide guitars, “Day After Day” is so gorgeous it practically aches. “Perfection” is an unheralded gem, while “Name of the Game” and “Take It All” are note-perfect pop ballads. Tom Evans isn’t as prolific here, but the one-two punch of “Money” and “Flying” is the closest Straight Up gets to Abbey Road, and “It’s Over” is a fine closer.

Still, what holds the record together is Joey Molland’s emergence as a songwriter. His work on No Dice is enjoyable, but here, he comes into his own with a set of well-constructed songs. This fine songwriting, combined with sharp performances and exquisite studio craft, make Straight Up one of the cornerstones of power-pop, a record that proved that it was possible to make classic guitar-pop after its golden era had passed.

Background

Straight Up is an album by power pop band Badfinger, released on December 13, 1971. It is widely regarded as one of Badfinger’s best albums, spawning two Top 40 singles and being commercially successful in its own right.

Straight Up recordings began in early 1971 under the direction of producer Geoff Emerick, who produced the bulk of Badfinger’s preceding album No Dice. Although these early recordings were completed and ready to be pressed, Apple Records co-president George Harrison decided the unreleased album could be improved under his personal direction. Harrison produced new versions of a couple of the earlier songs, as well as recording a couple new tracks with the band in the summer of 1971. Harrison can be heard playing a lead-guitar duet with Pete Ham on the song Day After Day, with Leon Russell featured on piano.

Due to a hurriedly-assembled benefit concert that summer, The Concert for Bangladesh (which Badfinger performed in), Harrison did not complete the Straight Up project. Todd Rundgren was retained to finish the album; utilizing recordings begun by both Emerick and Harrison, and recording several new tracks with the band.

Wikipedia