Round the Dial
Wednesday 12 March @ 12:02:39
by Tom Hallett
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I was watching a show the other night, and it was about how teenagers are basically under threat by corporations in terms of music, what music they listen to, what brand names they buy, like, it was really, really fascinating. The whole group, mass-mentality is what is sort of forced down their throats.”
SONG OF THE WEEK: “All By Myself”
—Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers
RTD will continue (honestly) with our CD reviews section next week, when we’ll delve into new releases from Tim Easton, Tommy Womack, Jay Farrar, The Blood Shot, Hungry Horse, and more. First, though, an update on last week’s column about the raping and pillaging of old ’70s (mostly) one-hit-wonders by greedy modern record labels. I probably wouldn’t even give this story any ink if it didn’t involve a member of one of my favorite ’70s bands, Badfinger (whose main songwriters, Pete Ham and Tom Evans, both hung themselves at tragically young ages, mostly due to being FUCKED by major record labels), and he didn’t live right here in town, and he hadn’t turned out to be one of the nicest fuckin’ guys you’ll ever meet who’s actually breathed the same air as John Lennon. I’m talkin’, of course, about Badfinger singer / guitarist / songwriter Joey Molland, who’s lived right here in the Twin Cities for over twenty years.
So, long story short, I got a call from a local musician/longtime Badfinger fan who filled me in on why Badfinger co-founders Joey Molland and Tommy Evans (bass, sang vocals on the original take of the Paul McCartney-penned “No Matter What”) got back together in the late ’70s to re-cut earlier hits (one of which Molland hadn’t even originally played on) and why they didn’t sound up to par with the band’s original material. Look—if somebody had called me trying to explain Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynolds’ reasons for re-cutting a one-hit-wonder, I couldn’t have cared less. But this is Badfinger, man, and Joey still lives right here in town. So I figured he deserved a shot at telling his side of the story. I called his crib, only to find out from his long-time business manager/wife Kathy that Joey (here comes that ol’ Badfinger curse agin’) was out of town—hadda fly to London to attend the funeral of his (older) brother, who used to work with The Who back in the day.
Man, Joey has pulled the short straw more times than a Nelson Algren character in the thirty or so years he’s been in the music biz—and he’s too talented, straight-up, and from-the-hip to deserve not getting a shot. I hope local rock fans pay attention when he plays out, whether as Badfinger or with his own groovy combos. Anyway, I asked Kathy for the poop on the what/where/how/why of those remakes of “Come And Get It” and “Day After Day” that appeared on the scandalous Superstar Seventies CD’s I picked up at Best Buy awhile back, and here’s a bit of our conversation:
Tom Hallett: So give me the lowdown on why Joey and Tom Evans re-cut “Come And Get It” and “Day After Day.”
Kathy Molland: Yeah, they re-cut “Come And Get It,” Tommy sang the original and Joey wasn’t on the original. In ’78, they re-cut it, and it was done by K-Tel. They paid the guys 5 grand and that enabled them to do a demo to give to Elektra.
TH: And that’s what those greedy sonofabitches wanted, was a little piece of the old Badfinger catalog, they didn’t even want to hear the new stuff until they had that.
KM: See, the angle is in this, and it still goes on today, is you can re-cut the songs and you can put it out. You can’t put the original version out. The Gap wanted to do the original “No Matter What,” and we were like, ‘You can’t get the original, it’s going to cost you three times as much.’ But even the Ham family doesn’t have a say in the matter, it’s down to Apple, who don’t want to cheapen the product by putting it in a commercial. But the people who know better will go re-record it, because they can use that version. You can actually do it without Apple’s permission.
TH: Now, I’ve talked music with Joey Molland for three or four hours; I have to know—was he happy with the versions that came out on this Seventies Superstars package?
KM: Ahhh—he didn’t care. Apple stopped putting Badfinger stuff out. First they stopped paying them money. And at the time, Paul (McCartney) was screwing the rest of the (Beatles) band. So with Capitol, they just stopped the product.
TH: So nobody had to get Paul’s permission to re-cut it?
KM: No, you just license it.
TH: Just like you’re a cover band.
KM: You just get (some of) the original people singing it and do it just like then.
TH: I’m assuming that, if Joey were in this position now, he’d do a much better job re-cutting it.
KM: I’m sure, and I don’t remember who produced that for K-Tel, but...
TH: Oh, and K-Tel doesn’t even take credit for this mess—it’s licensed to Direct Source Special Products in Canada. Here’s the thing—people like Joey Molland who are still viable artists and musicians who are writing new music, don’t get the chance to have this explained because there are no liner notes, and little kids think this half-baked, toothless version is what this song sounded like originally, and old people think, ‘What a crock of shit.’
KM: Right on—and it’s funny, because I don’t think they (Joey and Tom Evans) really even wanted to do that, but they thought, well, here’s a way to get around Apple and make some money for the band.
TH: But like I said (in my column last week), not at the expense of the fans, and I lay that blame on the people at the label who didn’t put any liner notes out. And let’s be honest—Tom Evans’ voice sounded like death warmed over on that new take of “Come And Get It.” Hell, Joey’s vocals on the re-cut “Day After Day” are at least close to the original in spirit.
KM: Oh, they’re using that version with Joey singing, huh? Wow, I don’t think he even knows that one’s out there, and I know he isn’t getting paid for it. There are others out there, one by Eclipse in Canada called The Best Of Badfinger, where they put Joey singing his favorite tunes, including the hits, and he doesn’t even know the guys he’s playing with. Then they put a picture of Badfinger on the cover and call it “The Best Of Badfinger.” Everybody gets taken again.
TH: (sarcastically) And I’m sure Joey feels real happy knowing his fans are buying this crap.
KM: Yep. And the truth comes out. Business is business. Joey could’ve re-recorded “No Matter What,” put it out as Badfinger, and sold it to Gap. You’ve got to have a little bit of soul, man. And you know Joey does. And it’s not like we couldn’t use the money—we’ve got kids and bills and real life like everybody else. But then he’d get ripped by the other band members’ (families), who don’t like that because the other people are “suffering” (guffaws); that’s why the Hams get a quarter million dollars a year. The (Badfinger drummer Mike) Gibbins family gets nothing, just like us.
TH: Just tell Joey to keep an eye on things, because I doubt you’re getting royalties for half the shit that’s floating around out there.
KM: I think K-Tel just went to Canada to open up their new drug line, what do you think? (Laughs)
TH: That’s about the gist of it, huh? Hey, thanks for setting us straight on this, Kathy, and our condolences to Joey on the loss of his brother. Tell him to give us a holler so we can keep people up to date on that great new album of his (This Way Up, more info on http://www.joeymolland.com), local shows, and other stuff.
KM: Thanks, Tom. Remember Joey is going to be going out on the Abbey Road Tour, and there are two books coming out, check out http://www.borders.com for more info.
So there ya go, kids. The straight story. Thanks to Kathy Molland for giving it to us right from the hip—you old timers out there take a clue from her for class and you young ‘uns from Joey for bein’ an in-house rep of rock an’ roll royalty. Cheers! Next week (I promise) those CD REVIEWS!! Until next time—make yer own damn news.
If you have local music news/gigs/events that you’d like to see listed in this column, or you’d just like to complain that your 1978 one-hit wonder was re-cut by K-Tel featuring a rogue keyboardist that you fired in 1980 for his strange sexual proclivities, send replies to: TMygunn777@aol.com.