Top Artists – Badfinger

Badfinger / Straight Up – Porky Not So Prime Cut

Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

We had an original British pressing in our shootout, unbeknownst to me as it was playing of course. And guess where it finished: dead last. The most thick, congested, crude, distorted, compressed sound of ALL the copies we played. We love the work of Porky, Pecko, et al. in general, but once again this is a case where a British Band recorded in England sounds best on domestic vinyl. (McCartney’s first album on Apple is the same way.)

Just saw this today (11/29/2021)

On November 18, 2019, a fellow on Discogs who goes by the name of Dodgerman had this to say referencing the original UK pressing of Straight Up, SAPCOR 19:

So Happy, to have a first UK press, of this lost gem. Porky/Pecko

Like many record collectors, he is happy to have a mediocre-at-best, dubby-sounding original pressing, poorly mastered by a famous mastering engineer, George Peckham, a man we know from extensive experience is responsible for cutting some of the best sounding records we’ve ever played.

Is this fellow an audiophile? He could be! Many audiophiles employ this kind of bad audiophile thinking, believing that a British band’s albums perforce sound their best on British vinyl.

Those of us who actually play lots of records and listen to them critically know that that is simply not true and never has been.

How do we know that?

By Conducting Experiments to Find Out.

We don’t guess. We don’t assume.

We just play lots and lots of records and find out which ones sound better and which ones sound worse.

To be fair, we have played exactly one copy of the album with Porky/Pecko stampers. Did we get a bad one and the gentleman quoted above got a good one? Nobody knows, because nobody can know with a great deal more evidence to make the case one way or the other. Would we buy another Porky pressing? If we found one for cheap, sure. But that is not very likely to happen. Those kinds of records are not cheap these days.

If you have a great sounding UK copy, we would love to hear it. Until then we remain skeptical.

Not close minded to the possibility of course, that would be foolish.

But not in any hurry to throw good money after bad in the hopes that Dodgerman actually knows much, or cares in the least, about sound quality.

Assuming that Dodgerman does care about sound quality, he is engaging in another kind of magical thinking by assuming that the original is going to be the best sounding pressing of the album.

Sometimes it is.

Sometimes it isn’t.

A public service from your friends at Better Records.

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Badfinger – No Dice

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Reviews and Commentaries for Badfinger

  • KILLER sound for this original Apple pressing with both sides earning nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades; only the second copy to ever hit the site!
  • Both of these sides are rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical yet still super clean and clear; the bass is right on the money and the energy level is off the charts
  • “… boasting old-fashioned rockers, catchy pop tunes, and acoustic ballads… the heart of the album lies in Ham’s work.. He proves that songcraft is what separates great power-pop from good, and it’s what makes No Dice a superb pop record.” – All Music, 4 1/2 Stars

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Badfinger / Straight Up Trash – The British 2 LP Digital Remaster Is Ridiculously Bad (As Was the Whole Series)

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Reviews and Commentaries for Badfinger

Sonic Grade: F

This British 2 LP reissue was digitally remastered and contains alternate mixes of 6 songs on the 2nd record.

The whole series was awful sounding and should be avoided completely.

Badfinger / Straight Up – What to Listen For

The best sides have the kind of PRESENCE in the midrange that most copies can’t begin to reproduce. The sound on the right pressings just JUMPS out of the speakers, which is exactly what the best copies are supposed to (but rarely) do. 

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 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 the band, Straight Up.

From 2007 to 2010 and Beyond

In 2007 we wrote: “Having played more than half a dozen copies of this record during the shootout I can tell you that the most common problem with Straight Up is grainy, gritty sound. Most copies of this record are painfully aggressive and transistory.”

With improvements to cleaning and playback i would say that’s not actually true in 2010. There is some grit to the sound to be sure, but like most records from the era, veiling and smearing are what really hold most copies back (more…)

Badfinger – Straight Up

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This relatively quiet WHITE HOT STAMPER Straight Up is KILLER, with a A++ side one and an A+++ side two — you can’t do much better than that! Side two has Master Tape Sound, the kind that we like to call AGAIG — As Good As It Gets. Both sides have the kind of PRESENCE in the midrange that most copies can’t begin to compete with. 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. For fans of the band — and Power Pop in general — this is the Straight Up you have been waiting for!

Our last shootout was in 2007, not because we don’t like the record or have 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.

2007 vs 2010

In 2007 we wrote: “Having played more than half a dozen copies of this record during the shootout I can tell you that the most common problem with Straight Up is grainy, gritty sound. Most copies of this record are painfully aggressive and transistory.” (more…)

Badfinger – Straight Up Power Pop

More of the Music of Badfinger

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.

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.

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