Sound — 10
"Straight Up" is power pop band Badfinger's third album released on Apple Records. This album was unavailable for many years after the Apple label folded but is now available on as it's been released back in 1993 and is still available. The production was started by George Harrison but Todd Rundgren completed George's first four tracks and Todd produced and mix the whole album. Two hits from here are the famous "Day After Day" and "Baby Blue" but the other tracks are also of just as strong songwriting and it's Badfinger at their finest I would say. This was in fact a gold selling album but was never announced as one, unfortunately Badfinger continues to receive well deserved recognition. The album should have in fact been listed in the top 10 for the year of 1972 but instead only reached the top 30's as an album despite the great success of the hit singles it included; "Baby Blue" peaked at number 4 and "Day After Day" at number 14. The problem was that Allen Klein was running Apple Records at the time and was illegally supplying out Badfinger albums and other albums from non-Beatles artists for under the table deals to corrupt distributors and thus kept the droves of Badfinger sales of the books. This resulting in Klein pocketing money whilst "Straight Up" lost significant chart ratings. Fortunately the crook Klein was later busted for his scams later on.
Lyrics — 10
Badfinger's influence on rock is an immense one, but a complicated one. For one, Badfinger itself is a testament to the influence of The Beatles, as Badfinger was perhaps the original power pop band that blended the Beatles' on sense of melody with drum compression, providing (along with the tragic band Big Star) the template of power pop bands as diverse and influential themselves as bands like Cheap Trick. Additionally, Badfinger provides a tragic lesson in the importance of band cohesion as well as the lack of trustworthiness of many people in the music industry, a lesson many bands should learn from the experience of others. For these reasons, at least, Badfinger has made a lasting and notable contribution to the world of rock & roll music. I find "Day After Day" hauntingly beautiful and deeply melancholy, with it's sad story of a relationship it has to offer. Straight Up opens with the medium-tempo ballad "Take It All" penned by Pete Ham. This track is a fantastic opener because of the gradual entrances in the beginning of the track; the track starts with piano, voice, and harmonics on the guitar and builds to include organ, drums, and bass.
"Baby Blue" is the next track on the album and one of my personal favorites. "Baby Blue" is a good example of why Badfinger is considered "power pop" because of the liberal use of power chords in the guitar. Yet, it seems senseless to base a genre around the frequent use of one type of chord. "Baby Blue" is an interesting track because despite tending toward the major key (the exception being the bridge) the words of the song are very melancholy. This creates a great tension in the listener which is resolved in the minor bridge and the outro. "Flying" is a quaint piece because of the word-painting it uses along the concept of flying. The long notes in the verse and especially the suspended held notes later in the track give a sense of gliding. "I'd Die Babe" is a great track with a notable driving bass line, and syncopated comping in the keyboard synced with the crash cymbals. This track is also testament to the tasteful use of vocal harmony that is key to a number of Badfinger songs. "Name of the Game" is a great ballad noteworthy for the sporadic harmonized vocal backgrounds and Ham's work on piano. The bass primarily outlines the roots of the chords and isn't very busy until the choruses. Despite making some good solo vehicles on guitar, the piano seems to be just as integral to the Badfinger sound. The closing track "It's Over" seems to be a bit tongue-in-cheek when its subject matter is compared to its place on the album. "It's Over" is a great feature for the vocals of the group as well as one more taste of Ham's piano and Molland's guitar. "Sweet Tuesday Morning" is a great ballad and in a sad and delicate beauty with more excellent instrumentals. "Sometimes" is yet again another hard rocker that Badfinger always manages to pull out in a satisfying form with great lead guitar sound.
Overall Impression — 10
There are altogether well written songs in unison and sound rich with high quality producing as Pete Ham offers "Day After Day" possibly one of the best songs ever written. "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 led by Pete Ham, he comes into his own with a set of well-constructed songs. This fine songwriting that the genius of Pete Ham is behind 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. Pete Townshend himself coined the term "power pop" so I'm not sure about it, it's really a term he used to describe some of his work and he himself wasn't sure of it, I would just say that Badfinger is something on its own a clever devised form of brilliant and always smooth rock in near perfection deliverance.