No Dice


Apple / Capitol Records, 1970

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When Badfinger first hit the market in 1970, they were a band in transition; new guitarist Joey Molland was so fresh in the lineup that his picture is nowhere to be found on the cover of Magic Christian Music.

Later in 1970, the classic line-up of Badfinger released their first album together (and the band's second overall - third if you count the release as The Iveys) No Dice, a disc which tried to put behind them the comparisons to The Beatles. And while their efforts are applaudable even today, there still showed a lot of room to grow.

No Dice is probably best known for two songs. The first, "No Matter What," is an incredible track that gives Badfinger a chance to find their own unique musical voice. It recaptures the glory days of rock while giving a glance into the musical crystal ball; the edge to this song suggested what lay ahead for music in the '70s. (No, I'm not referring to disco.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The second track, "Without You," is better known thanks to Harry Nilsson's rendition. Sadly, no matter how open minded I try to be when I listen to this disc, I can't help but compare the original version of "Without You" to Nilsson's version - and no matter how you slice it, Badfinger will always come out on the losing end. The original version is much rawer in emotion, thanks in part to the combination of vocals from Pete Ham and Tom Evans. Nilsson's version was much more polished and radio-friendly - and while I'll admit that something is probably lost in that translation that I'm not seeing at this moment, I just prefer the cover version.

No Dice has other tracks which are just as worthy of people's attention, though. Songs like "I Can't Take It," "Love Me Do" (no, not a cover of The Beatles's song), "Believe Me" and "We're For The Dark" all have great power in both the songwriting and the performances. Why some of these tracks have never been culled from the CD and played on the radio I'll never understand.

One interesting note: Listen to the track "Better Days" and tell me that it doesn't sound like Paul Rodgers and Bad Company. This is especially interesting, seeing that Bad Company wasn't even in existence yet.

For all the positives, though, there are tracks on No Dice that suggest that Badfinger was still very much in a growth period. Songs like "Midnight Caller" and "Bloodwyn" (what the hell was this song supposed to be about, anyway?!?) show both signs of age these days and unfulilled promise in the songwriting. When I listen to tracks like "I Don't Mind," I have to sometimes wonder if this is the same band who delivered "Better Days".

No Dice, when it was released on CD for the first time in 1992, includes five bonus tracks, which are about as hit or miss as the material on the album proper (though no track here could be called bad). Of this material, one has to wonder why songs like "Loving You" and "I'll Be The One" didn't make the original cut. Others, like "Friends Are Hard To Find" and "Get Down," don't feel like they belong in the same company style-wise.

Still, No Dice was an improvement over Magic Christian Music - and Badfinger's glory days of fame were still ahead of them.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Apple / Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.