7 Park Avenue CD
 Pete Ham
released worldwide on March 18, 1997

Excerpts from reviews by media (full-length media reviews listed after these)

Big O
7 Park Avenue combines the gentle tunefulness of White-album era McCartney with the raw emotional intensity of primal-scream era Lennon… there is nothing else like it. This may not be the holy grail of early 70's British pop, but it's close.

People Magazine
... even in their bare-bones state, many of these songs reveal Ham's gift for bittersweet melodies and terrific hooks

Beatlefan
... This collection underscores the real tragedy of Ham's suicide - that such a wonderful talent was taken away from us far too soon.

New Musical Express
 ... this collection lays bare Ham's intrinsic strengths - a sense of space and melodic brightness that owes much to John Lennon. Personal honesty, a simple gentle-eyed clarity and unashamed dreamy idealism give Ham's songs their recurring focus…

Baby Sue
This CD is a must have. This man's death was one of the biggest blows ever to hit the world of pop music… by the end I found myself in tears…

The Big Takeover
 ... this album just doubles the reasons to grieve the untimely, regrettable death of such an unique, emotive talent… beguiling, beautiful, sweetly forlorn…

Amplifier
If there was a seven pillars of pop, Pete Ham would be one of them… taut, poignant, fragile, and austere…

Riverfront Times
... life-affirming music with an undying resonance.

Fruitbasket Upset
... a personal, chilling, and exquisitely beautiful album.

Time And A Word
... a vital behind-the-scenes glimpse at one of the most gifted songwriters of post-Beatles pop.

Bucketful Of Brains
 ... (Pete Ham) encapsulated the heritage of English folk and, through a transfigured Beatlesque vein, absorbed the melodic edge of the Merseybeat explosion… this is a magnificent collection.

Yeah Yeah Yeah
... This album of lost demos is truly a splendid thing… Most of these tracks could have made it, and that fact's almost as depressing as the reality of Ham's life… may Pete Ham finally rest in peace.

Q Magazine
... a fitting document to a songwriting talent tragically thwarted…

Popsided
... a songwriter of immense talent and emotional depth… If you want poignant, touching McCartney-esque pop, then look no further. Catherine Cares, It Doesn't Really Matter, Just How Lucky We Are, Coppertone Blues, all of them are classics… even on the lesser tunes, his talent shines…

Relix
... a pop writer with imagination, class, and great potential.

The Gainesville Sun
... Pete Ham was a great talent… songs he considered cast-offs can take their place alongside his immense and important contributions to popular music.

Dorsett Evening Echo
... a listen to 7 Park Avenue will reassure you that Badfinger's true legacy is a series of huge hearted, achingly melodic and soaringly uplifting songs.

Record Collector
... Pete Ham's melodic flair is reminiscent of McCartney at his best… this superbly packaged and conceived set is a worthy tribute.

Buffalo Art Voice
... plays like a long running diary reflecting on a sad life and impending death… not without rays of hope… a total dig it!

Ink Nineteen
… remarkably good… a knack for writing a great pop hook…

The 910...
showcases Pete Ham's vocal talents in a way that the official Badfinger releases never really did… you'd have to be cold-hearted not to be affected by this…

San Francisco Chronicle
... simple, McCartney-esque stunners included… showcases a fraction of Ham's beautiful legacy.

Houston Press
… a reminder of what a loss Ham's death was, the effect is nothing short of harrowing. Damned if this isn't some of the best music Badfinger never recorded.

The Province
... a first-rate songwriter… a fine, thoughtfully presented selection of Ham's work.

Cake
... a wonderful collection of unassuming, yet affecting pop songs, some power pop and some quite tender and melodic. In a word, fascinating.

Stomp Stammer
... done with good taste, and a respect for the material… quite enjoyable.

The Bob
... a certain sad beauty hangs over the album… it's a pleasure to have Ham bring something new into my life.

CMJ Music
… if, like me, you're a hopeless fan of Ham's haunting melodic sensibility and his soothing world-weary voice, you won't be disappointed by this disc… unlike virtually every other example of "ghosting" on the market, the producers appear to have kept the original integrity of these home recordings intact.

The Star
... an intriguing look into the demos of a master songwriter.

Hi Fi News
... some of the most achingly gorgeous pop balladry ever… exquisite.

Surrey Advertiser
... a fitting tribute to a talent destroyed all too soon.

Dover Express
... an intimate album, it is also a valuable look at a truly great talent.

Scuzz
Ham's songwriting genius is indispensable throughout… heartbreaking.

Overall
 ... What of Ham's contemporary relevance? Listen to him alongside Oasis, cast, and Dodgy, and all becomes clear.

Discoveries
... an embarrassment of riches… a compelling glimpse of a talent that was prematurely snuffed out. The music doesn't lie.

Tyke News
... a damn good songwriter… in these days of unplugged and Ray Davies touring solo Pete Ham could have been up there…

Chew
... a special brand of pop music… the one thread running is how emotional this sensitive songwriter was.

Hartbeat
... this posthumous collection of home demos by one of Badfinger's leading lights is a real revelation… a fine testament to a musician who should still be writing and still be performing in the very eye of the Power Pop genre.

Miami New Times
… Ham originals, all of which stand as a brilliant reminders of the talent that died when Ham hanged himself at the age of 27.

Anglia Advertiser
… a collection of demo and home recordings which have been spruced up with added instrumentation. This is no naff Free As A Bird exercise though, as Dan Matovina has ensured Ham's vocals and guitar playing are the album's focus.

Philidelphia Weekly
… Ham's instrumental resourcefulness as well as lovely, sparsely acoustic ballads the hymn-like Dear Father, Weep Baby, and the idyllic Island that are enriched by Ham's tender vocals… we can consider ourselves lucky, indeed, that this cache of high-quality material has been unearthed.

Puncture
... this year's most fascinating archive set was 7 Park Avenue, a collection of demos from Badfinger leader Pete Ham, who hanged himself in 1975, but stayed a hummable charmer til the end…

Uncut
… No question, the boy had a way with a McCartney-esque melody… Pete Ham emerges as a songwriter more worthy of the column inches his death generated.

Brumbeat
… carefully cleaned up and sensitively overdubbed where necessary that makes up this illuminating eighteen tracker.

Friday Morning Quarterback
… one is both saddened and uplifted: saddened at the tragic loss of a monstrous talent… uplifted by the beautiful songs and Ham's rich, soulful voice.

All Music Guide
… it's actually better than McCartney's typical early solo material. Ham is a thinking listener's rock romantic, offering emotional, wistful words and melodies without sounding sappy…

Benno Internet Magazine
… Pete Ham performing songs that are both personal and intimate in a way that makes it impossible to be indifferent to them.… an extraordinary songwriting talent never got the chance to develop all his potential. Wholeheartedly recommended.

David Elliott Reviews
… this collection of demos is just the ticket for the discerning power-pop lover… Chilling stuff…

E-Opinions
… the obscure and raw feel of these songs will mesmerize you… If you would like to see the work of a great songwriter in a stripped down mode, this is a fine example, and the genius of Pete Ham shines through clearly.

Extended Playhouse
… a treasure trove of previously unknown pop songs, a legacy many of his fans hadn't even guessed existed.… a great service in preserving Pete Ham's legacy.

Sympatico
… a gifted composer whose knack for writing pop songs went beyond merely aping anyone else.

IONE
… a great writer and singer.

Kilmarnock Standard
… his songs display an intimacy that was often lost to the production gloss on Badfinger's studio albums.

New York Daily News
… it's amazing how complete and unblemished they sound in this raw form.… The recordings combine the melodic sheen of power pop with the heartbreak of confessional singer-songwriters… his most intimate legacy.

Lancashire Evening Post
… a man with rare songwriter's talent.

Good Day Sunshine
… wonderful songwriting ability, as well as his fine singing voice… There are several great tracks on the album…

Ink Nineteen
… deeply felt emotion and knack for writing a great pop hook while keeping the passion and feelings pure.

Request
… a hummable charmer to the end.

Anodyne
… a collection that reveals the late Ham as a very talented and heartfelt singer, songwriter and arranger, and certainly the most vital and creative member of Badfinger.

Sound
… pleasurable listening, particularly to those already hip to Badfinger.

Record Collector
Rated among Top Ten of CD releases for the year 1997

Magnet
Rated among Top Ten of CD releases for the year 1997


Pete Ham
7 Park Avenue  CD
Full length reviews

Bucketful Of Brains
Issue: May, 1997
reviewed by Fernando Naporano

Late on the night of April 23rd, 1975, at the peak of his depression, and after downing ten glasses of whisky in a half hour, Pete Ham was driven home by Badfinger bass player Tom Evans. "I know a way out" was the last thing Pete said to Tom. At 7 a.m. the next morning, Peter William Ham was found hanged in his garage. A suicide note addressed to Badfinger's much hated manager ("Stan Polley is a soulless bastard") was lying nearby.

Pete had finally figured out a way to get out of his tormented life. He was 27 years old. A cursed age that, coincidentally, marked the farewells of Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, Robert Johnson, Al Wilson, Brian Jones, and Chris Bell (probably his best mate in heaven). In the rock 'n' roll deathdrome, the painful and self-punitive act of hanging was pioneered by Phil Ochs and followed by Ian Curtis and Richard Manuel.

Today it's sad to remember how unappreciated Badfinger's unique music was. It's hard to comprehend that misery that became Pete's life after all the  monies vanished in Polley's hands. However, the official release of the most sought-after of Badfinger related items brings some consolation. Obligatory for the fans, 7 Park Avenue is the final glimpse of truly beautiful tunes of one of the greatest U.K. tunesmiths.

These 18 previously unreleased demos - from 1967's Weep Baby to Ringside and No More from his last days - recorded on a two-head Revox  Sound-On-Sound tape machine, display perfectly his genuine, well-crafted, and emotional style. Better than anyone, he encapsulated the heritage of English folk and, through a (trans)figured Beatlesque vein, absorbed the melodic edge of the Merseybeat explosion. The songs were technically cleaned up for dropouts and clicks by Dan Matovina, the writer of Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger, with the approval of Ham's estate.

As with the Beatles anthologies, to avoid an imbalance of the final vocal and instrument levels, and mainly to even out some of the sounds, new overdubs, in this case provided by ex-Badfinger member Bob Jackson, ex-Iveys member Ron Griffiths, bass player Derrick Anderson of The Andersons, and drummer Rick Cammon, were added to a number of songs. The occasional sound imperfections that remain are entirely secondary when faced with a musical treasure which contains pre-Badfinger versions (No Matter What and Matted Spam), shivering ballads (Dear Father), nascent power-pop (Catherine Cares), bluesy rockers (Leaving On A Midnight Train) and pop-psych-folk masterpieces (Island) along with other glorious inflections of Ham's genius. This is a magnificent collection.


Big O

April, 1997
reviewed by Matthew Lewis

Poor Pete Ham. At his best, he was a better Paul McCartney - a stupendously gifted and brightly melodic popsmith of post-Pepper Britain. Yet Ham's group, Badfinger, originally signed to the Beatles' Apple label, never quite achieved the consistent commercial success they deserved. Depressed by spiraling business and personal problems, Ham hanged himself in April 1975. He was only 27. During his brief career, Ham wrote the towering early-70's  pop gems - No Matter What, Day After Day, and Baby Blue. He also co-wrote the ballad, Without You, a 1972 mega-hit for Harry Nilsson. Significantly, the prolific Ham also accumulated a backlog of songs that Badfinger never got around to record.

More than two decades after Ham's tragic death, 7 Park Avenue (named after Badfinger's London residence cum studio) gathers 18 of Ham's previously unreleased home recordings. These original mono masters, long sought after by Badfinger buffs, were sonically cleaned in 1993 to remove dropouts, clicks, and generally brighten their quality. Some new overdubs were added to certain tracks by former Badfinger member Bob Jackson and former Iveys (pre-Badfinger Ham band) member Ron Griffiths.

The album was produced by Dan Matovina, an authorised designate of the estate of Pete Ham, and author of the soon-to-be-published biography Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger. The results are stunning and, taken as a whole, this collection showcases Ham's genius better than any single Badfinger album.

None of the big Badfinger hits are here except Ham's original acoustic version of No Matter What. But the best of these tracks rank alongside Day After Day and Baby Blue as true pop masterpieces. The beautifully wistful Coppertone Blues is one of the best things Ham ever wrote, as is the ridiculously titled Sille Veb, and the powerful I Know That You Should.

The final two songs, No More and Ringside, are chilling, for they were in effect Ham's suicide notes. In the former, Ham sings, "Someone please turn out the light/I can't face the mirror anymore." What's particularly disturbing about No More is that, even with one foot in the grave, Ham couldn't resist his power-pop impulses, and set his lyrics to a hummable, almost upbeat melody. Far more somber is Ringside, in which he sings: "Take me back to the father… take me home/For I can't bear to feel the sorrow of the evil that you've shown."

It's been more than a quarter century since many of these songs were recorded, but it was worth the wait. 7 Park Avenue combines the gentle tunefulness of White-album era McCartney with the raw emotional intensity of primal scream era Lennon, recorded in the audio verité fashion of Dylan and the Band's Basement Tapes. There is nothing else like it, just as there will never be another Pete Ham. This collection may not be the holy grail of early 70's British pop, but it's close.


Baby Sue
Issue: #24
reviewed by Don W. Seven

Long ago I wished for a solo record by Pete Ham. Now, more than 20 years after his suicide, the wish comes true. This CD is a difficult listen, and by the end I found myself in tears. When I first started listening to Badfinger in high school, Mr. Ham's tunes gave me emotional rushes. The sincerity of his words and the strange quality of his voice were somehow reassuring and comforting during the most difficult period of my life. That Badfinger was shrugged off by most folks as a Beatles rip-off was always a mystery to me… particularly since their music was actually superior in many ways. This CD is a collection of Pete's solo recordings from the late sixties and early seventies. Fortunately, this is not a batch of Badfinger demos. Instead, it is a collection of Pete's tunes that haven't been heard until now (with the exception of an early acoustic version of No Matter What). I wouldn't recommend this CD to folks who are unfamiliar with this man's recorded work. But for those who once got the same emotional charge I did from Pete Ham's music, this CD is a must have. Because this man's death was one of the biggest blows ever to hit the world of pop music. May he rest in peace.

Highest Rating - 6 out of 6.


Amplifier
Volume 2, Number 1
reviewed by David Bash

If there was a "seven pillars of pop," Pete Ham would be one of them. You'll find Badfinger on many lists of the greatest bands of all time, and virtually every Badfinger fan will say that the focal point of that band was Pete Ham. It's always a tragedy when some one takes his own life, but that tragedy takes on an added dimension when one realizes that this person has ended his or her stay on earth before they've been able to bestow all of their gifts upon the world. Pete Ham arguably was at his peak of performance when he died, and although we will never know what musical accomplishments lay ahead, we are fortunate enough to be able to look behind, not only to bask in the glory of what he's given us, but to search through his archives and be able to extract works that, while unfinished, are a reflection of the profundity that this man possessed.

7 Park Avenue, so named for the address of the house in London where Ham recorded these tracks from 1967 to 1975. Every one of the tracks contained herein are demo versions; because of the recording technique Ham used, it was decided by the project coordinators to add some instrumental overdubs in 1996. This was done only to eradicate some vocal/instrumental imbalances inherent in the original recordings, and the overall process was so subtle that you'd never know it was done if you hadn't read about it. The results leave the recordings as stripped down and personal as Ham intended them.

Demo recordings have a certain inherent allure; you have no real idea what the finished product will be like. Will it be enhanced with a barrage of instruments, or will it remain spare? Will there be a stark change in tempo? How many vocals will be added? There's no way to know what, if anything, Ham intended to do with most of these tracks, but two of them did end up being enhanced for eventual release, Matted Spam, which appeared on Badfinger's self-titled album for Warner Brothers, and No Matter What, the top 10 hit from No Dice which many people consider to be the first legitimate power-pop song. The demo of Matted Spam, is simply a bare bones version of that which was released, but the demo of No Matter What is something else again. It's extremely charming in its simplicity, not even hinting at the ferocity of the released version. The refrain hasn't even been developed yet; Ham "do do-ing" his way through. Given this state of affairs, it's hard to imagine what many of the tracks on this collection would have become, and one is better off not bothering, perhaps choosing instead to merely enjoy them as they are, and there is certainly a lot to enjoy here.

The beauty of these tracks isn't merely in the quality of the songwriting, but in the personal nature of the lyrics, and some of them, especially those recorded near the end of Ham's life, take on an eerie portent. For example, the final two tracks on the collection, No More and Ringside, were recorded in 1975, only months before he hanged himself. The angst of No More is evident in Ham's manic strumming of his acoustic, this perhaps a vain attempt to exorcise some demons. The repetition of the word "no" also effectively communicates the turmoil within, and if someone had heard the lyrics "someone please turn out the light, I can't face the mirror anymore," maybe Ham would have gotten some help and would still be here today. In Ringside he sings, "take me back to the father, take me, take me, take me home," another plea for help that was likely never heard.

Not all of Ham's songs reflect an inner pain; the opening track Catherine Cares is a heartfelt ode to his mother, but even in this there is a bittersweet sentiment, because at the same time as he's lauding her, he's expressing regret at being selfish to you, my mom" for walking out on her. Musically, its folk-based timbre is embellished with some electric guitar and a wonderful hook. Another wonderful track is It Doesn't Really Matter, which tells of the opposition the rest of Badfinger had to Ham's 1974 relationship with the estranged wife of one of their roadies. In this melodically beautiful tune, Ham intones with great resolve "there's nothing people say can change my mind" and "It doesn't really matter how they try, they'll never break up you and I." Other striking tracks include Dear Father which makes you feel that if Ham had gotten to know  Chris Von Sneidern he'd have been real proud of his musical ability, the extremely potent Leaving On A Midnight Train, which has a chain of ascending/descending guitar figures, the should have been single, Hand In Hand, the aptly named Island, containing a delayed double-tracked vocal and slide guitar which gives it a Hawaiian feel, and the slightly countryish, minor-keyed. Just Look Inside The Cover. This track is perhaps the most interesting on the disc in that it contains the lyrics "you may say my life's a waste of time, but man I disagree." Nobody knows for sure how long Ham carried his demons with him, but many people who eventually commit suicide go through several emotional phases before they carry out the act. One of those phases is an attempt to disavow those demons, which sometimes manifests in carrying out a conversation with yourself in the guise of another person. Although Just Look Inside The Cover was written a few years before Ham's death, perhaps his vehement indictment of his antagonist's portrayal of Ham's life was a reaction formation to his own frightening awareness.

Perhaps too much may be made of the lyrical content of the songs on 7 Park Avenue, but this notwithstanding, the real reason to pick up this wonderful collection is the music. It's taut, poignant, fragile, and austere, and if these songs had been released the rock and roll world would have been left with many more Badfinger classics.

New Musical Express
April 29, 1997
reviewed by Gavin Martin

A gentle spirit adrift in the gathering ruthlessness of the post-swinging-60's rock industry boom, Badfinger front man Pete Ham was driven to despair and suicide in 1975 at the tender age of 27. One of the most notable and successful acts signed to The Beatles' Apple label, Badfinger were a democracy unable  to contain or record all the demos Ham wrote and recorded in the group's studio at Park Avenue in Golders Green, north London. With subtle overdubs added in 1994 and 1995, this collection lays bare Ham's intrinsic strengths - a sense of space and melodic brightness that owes much to John Lennon - even as it documents his growing disaffection. Buoyant optimism curdles into a bleated, wounded realisation that the rip-off - on his art and his soul - was in full effect. Personal honesty, a simple gentle-eyed clarity and unashamed dreamy idealism give Ham's songs their recurring focus. But these compositions are sprung with a vigor (Catherine Cares - one of the many great odes to Mother in rock) and determinism (I Know That You Should) that prevents them ever slipping into mild-mannered mush.

Recorded between 1968 and Ham's death these tracks have the feel of an artist finding sanctuary away from the storm of his life and career, pouring his heart out via the charmed eroticism of the eerie Coppertone Blues, the sorrowful Weep Baby and the self-assessing Just Look Inside The Cover. Such qualities of candour and resolve would certainly find favour in today's marketplace, but neither would the hard knowledge contained in his bitter farewells to their industry (Ringside and No More) be misplaced.

Rating - 8 out of 10.


Overall
Issue: May, 1997
reviewed by GT

The singer/songwriter from the popular 70's act Badfinger was only twenty-seven when he hanged himself. Years of sly swindling from the music industry's rapidly emerging tycoons took their final toll on Ham. What this intriguing collection does is gather up some unreleased home recordings which display an unaffected sincerity and craft. The era's trademark flanged acoustic guitar, and double-tracked vocals, are at the fore, but the writer's tuneful poetics remain undiminished by time. And for authentic atmospherics check out the creaking chair on Weep Baby as Ham sits and croons. Outstanding songs include Catherine Cares, Hand In Hand, and Sille Veb, but it's the closing of No More and Ringside that reveal the man's final personal demons. And what of Ham's contemporary relevance? Listen to him alongside Oasis, Cast, and Dodgy, and all becomes clear.


Fruitbasket Upset
Issue: Number 8, Summer 1997
reviewed by - Jim Freek

With the passing of such atrocities as the Joey Molland led Badfinger, and Mariah Carey's slaughtering of Without You, Badfinger fans finally have a lot to be excited about again. Besides the recently released tribute album, Come And Get It: A Tribute To Badfinger, there will soon be a new book and video chronicling the band's career, not to mention this recently unearthed booty: an exciting compilation of previously unreleased Pete Ham demos.

While a large portion of the songs on this disk are stark, solo renderings by Ham, many have been spruced up with overdubs, courtesy of ex-Iveys (pre-Badfinger) member Ron Griffiths and L.A. based drummer Rick Cammon. In addition, bassist Derrick Anderson of The Andersons, Tony Perkins from Martin Luther Lennon, and the Jigsaw Seen's Jonathan Lea have all made instrumental contributions, turning 7 Park Avenue into something of a contemporary pop album that actually ends up being consistently more enjoyable than any of Badfinger's original albums. The opening wall-of-sound jubilee Catherine Cares is a tender tale about Pete's mum, but the most extraordinary thing about this song is how closely it resembles Whatever by Oasis, bringing the cocky rock gods to a new level of unclassified hipness. I mean, it's fine and dandy that their music's already a grab-bag of 60s and 70s rock clichés, but to rip off unreleased material as well? That bloody rocks!

Those of us who favored Badfinger's winsome, Beatlesque power pop over their sweaty boogie excursions will enjoy a large quantity of tracks included here, such as Would You Deny, It Doesn't Really Matter, and the tender piano ballad Live Love All Of Your Days. It sure is surprising that so much music of such exceptional quality was never released on Badfinger's albums (which were already pretty full of amazing songs), but that's part of the excitement in hearing a lot of these songs for the first time. A few  familiar tunes do pop up occasionally, including a funky version of the 1974 Badfinger album's Matted Spam, and a solo acoustic reading of their classic power pop anthem No Matter What.

Of course, we all know that Pete Ham's saga ended tragically. His suicide in 1975 was prompted by various factors, but mostly by his band's lack of success and his record company's lack of compassion. A handful of songs on this collection reveal his disillusioned thoughts (in Sille Veb about his girlfriend Bev Ellis, he admits failure), but none are more macabre than No More and Ringside, the two musical "suicide notes" that close out this personal, chilling, and exquisitely beautiful album.

Beatlefan
April, 1997
reviewed by Ajax Mink

As anyone who's ever listened to Badfinger knows, two of the main strengths of the late Pete Ham's
songwriting were his strong sense of melody and his emotionally accessible lyrics.

Both qualities are in plentiful supply on this album of late 60's to mid-70's demos recorded mostly at Badfinger's home/studio in London's Golders Green (from which the title is taken). OK, not every one of these is a Day After Day or Baby Blue - they were, after all, rejected, or at least unrecorded, songs (with the exception of demos for No Matter What and Matted Spam). But there are some definite keepers here, including It Doesn't Really Matter, Live Love All Of Your Days, Weep Baby (one of his earliest, from 1967) and No More (one of his last, from '75).

And there are two dynamite numbers: the legendary ballad Coppertone Blues and, from shortly before his death in April '75, Ringside, a lovely, haunting song in which the melancholy Welshman offers the struggling artist's lament: "Who will own you tomorrow?" It ranks among his very best tunes.

The tracks on this album, produced and edited by Dan Matovina (author of the forthcoming Badfinger biography) have been cleaned up and overdubs added to some - by musicians including former bandmates Bob Jackson and Ron Griffiths - to fill out sometimes unbalanced mono sound… This collection underscores the real tragedy of Ham's suicide - that such a wonderful talent was taken away from us far too soon.

People Magazine
June 9, 1997
reviewed by - Billy Altman

The rock group Badfinger is remembered mainly as protégés of the Beatles. Signed to Apple Records during the late '60's and early '70's, they first got noticed recording Paul McCartney's Come And Get It, and they played and toured with the separated Beatles. Along the way, enough magic rubbed off to help them create such bright hits as No Matter What, Day After Day and Baby Blue. Bad business dealings sabotaged the band's career, though, leading to the 1975 suicide of their guitarist Pete Ham, 27, the composer of those hits. 7 Park Avenue is a collection of his demos from over the years, and even in their bare-bones state, many of these songs reveal Ham's gift for bittersweet melodies and terrific hooks. As George Harrison once said, isn't it a pity.


The Big Takeover
Issue: 41
reviewed by Jack Rabid

... we can now eerily view the frayed emotions that led (Pete) Ham to his own tragic demise. The gifted, sensitive singer/writer hung himself at the age of 27, on April 25, 1975, after the release of Badfinger's sixth and final LP. The stunned, star-crossed group were doomed, despite a failed comeback starting in 1978 (bassist Tom Evans then sadly hung himself as well, in 1983).

The final two tracks here, "No More", and "Ringside, are thus acutely painful; the former is from a perturbed man with one foot in the grave, and the latter displays such bitterness over being ripped-off by management and two major record companies, its not hard to see what put him there! Overall, these upfront-recorded, simple, affecting songs contain a surprisingly spiritual air. Again like (Chris) Bell, the tormented soul has a lot of contrasting beauty in it. There's an odd stillness of the heart in lush acoustic numbers such as "Sille Veb" (an apology to a long-neglected girlfriend for touring too much, her name spelled backwards in the title), an "Coppertone Blues." These show Ham to be an inventive player, as well as a fine singer. Imagine "Blackbird" by Ham's original mentor at Apple, Paul McCartney, with more personal lyrics. An unplugged version of the massive 1970 #8 hit "No Matter What," is likewise more soul-quiet. Most of the other more fleshed-out tracks recall chamber-pretty Badfinger moments, such as "Midnight Caller" from 1971's No Dice. Those who crave more dense, uptempo Badfinger brilliance should seek 1972's masterful Straight Up, but the beguiling, beautiful, sweetly forlorn 7 Park Avenue is an unexpected document of a more plaintive side only Ham's biggest admirer's knew existed. This album just doubles the reasons to grieve the untimely, regrettable death of such an unique, emotive talent. Note: Superb liner notes, photos, and lyrics, too.

Q Magazine
May, 1997
reviewed by Tom Doyle

Taking its name from the address of Badfinger's modestly proportioned rehearsal and demo studio in London during the late 60's/early 70's heyday, 7 Park Avenue compiles 18 solo recordings by the group's principle songwriter Pete Ham, who committed suicide in 1975, aged 27. With this in mind, there is a certain poignancy lent to the more melancholic, stripped-down acoustic tracks, such as Weep Baby and No More, even though the latter attempts to cloak its depressive lyric with a chirpy McCartney-esque melody. Other tracks like Catherine Cares and I Know That You Should feature modern bass and drum overdubs provided by former Badfinger member Bob Jackson and Ron Griffiths, Ham's partner in the band's previous incarnation, The Iveys, and these prove impressively faithful to the recording techniques of the period. A fitting document to a songwriting talent tragically thwarted.

Rating - Four stars out of five


Yeah Yeah Yeah
Issue: Number 7
reviewed by Pat Pierson

... Lately, with a newfound interest in power pop, and a growing underground following, Badfinger have been properly rescued from obscurity and have seen a lot of their product reissued, albeit sometimes haphazardly. Rykodisc, who haphazardly issued a lame live Badfinger disc a few years back, have washed those sins away with this amazing disc of lost Pete Ham songs. This album of lost demos is a truly splendid thing. Whereas, with Badfinger, one would have to wade through the Joey songs and Tommy songs to get to Ham, here ya have the guy straight through on 18 tracks.

For many of the songs it's obvious why they weren't included on Badfinger records; either they were too pop, or were just too personal. Some, however, should've made the cut. Coppertone Blues and Sille Veb are as great as anything he ever recorded. Both have an aching McCartney-esque acoustic feel to them and are unequivocally beautiful. Other lost gems are Dear Father, Hand In Hand and Island, all of which show that he was never able to get everything he wanted onto a Badfinger record. Most of these tracks could've made it, and that fact's almost as depressing as the reality of Ham's life. Thank whoever, that finally these songs have seen the light of day. And may Pete Ham finally rest in peace.

Miami New TImes
Issue: Summer 1997
reviewed by Steve Kistulentz

The mere fact that Badfinger was originally signed to the Beatles' Apple label unfairly stigmatized the British popstars as a surrogate Fab Four. But unlike their label mates, Badfinger's story did not include highlights like soldout shows at Shea Stadium. That story, chronicled in Dan Matovina's new book Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger, is indeed one of tragedy - one in which mismanagement and deception culminated in the 1975 suicide of vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Pete Ham. New material is beginning to see the light, thanks to a collaboration between Ham's heirs and Matovina. The first glimpse of these tapes is 7 Park Avenue, a compilation of eighteen Ham originals, all of which stand as a brilliant reminders of the talent that died when Ham hanged himself at the age of 27.

Because his bandmates Tom Evans and Joey Molland were also first-rate songwriters, Ham was often limited to only four songs per Badfinger album. On 7 Park Avenue the Badfinger gem "No Matter What" is presented as a soaring, acoustic demo. But the real stunners are the songs never cut by the group. "Would You Deny" is done minimally, with a falsetto vocal that evokes Cream-era Eric Clapton, while "Catherine Cares" is a gently rocking song offered by Ham as an apology to his mother for his lifestyle of rock and roll misbehavior.

7 Park Avenue ends with "No More" and "Ringside," both of which address Ham's suicidal state. They were among the last songs he recorded. "No More" especially shows the schism within Pete Ham; listening to this song is almost like indulging in a morbid voyeurism. Its chorus, a repetitive "N-n-n-n-no, no, no, no more," is offered with listeners too young to remember Badfinger exactly what a pop record should sound like, while its lyrics hint at the sad end to the Pete Ham story.


Popsided
Issue: Spring 1997
reviewed by Spaz

Pete Ham was, for all intents and purposes, Badfinger. He wrote all the band's hits (apart from McCartney's Come And Get It) and he is the most well-known of the bunch. This is not to say that the other three members were not as important, but every band must have a leader/focal point, and Ham was it. This comp of demos recorded at Badfinger's demo studio on 7 Park Avenue proves that Ham was a songwriter of immense talent and emotional depth. The only reason these songs never made an album (apart from No Matter What and Matted Spam) is that the rest of the band had enough talent to hold up a portion of an album as well, leaving some of Ham's finest material in the vaults. If you want poignant, touching McCartney-esque pop, then look no further. Catherine Cares, It Doesn't Really Matter, Just How Lucky We Are, Coppertone Blues. All of them are classics. What a writer and vocalist Ham was. Even on the lesser tunes, his talent shines. The real emotional impact will hit you on the last two tracks, No More, and Ringside, both of which were recorded in the weeks leading to Ham's suicide in April of '75. They are true 'lump in the throat' masterpieces. With this Rykodisc release, Pete Ham will forever be remembered by his talent, not just the way he chose to leave the world.


The Gainesville Sun
Issue: April 4, 1997
reviewed by Bill DeYoung

The title refers to a house in West London where the four members of Badfinger lived communally in the early '70s writing songs, recording demos, and rehearsing. Pete Ham was that group's linchpin, a phenomenally talented tunesmith from Wales, the author of the band's international hits Day After Day, No Matter What, and Baby Blue.

Ham committed suicide in 1975, as a way of escaping the legal and personal knots that had begun to suffocate Badfinger. 7 Park Avenue consists of acoustic demos he made during happier times (for the most part, that is - the final two songs on the album, recorded at Ham's home in Surrey, date from just weeks before his tragic death). Minimal but unobtrusive overdubbing has been added to improve the sound on certain songs.

With the exception of a quick run-through of No Matter What, none of these acoustic gems ever surfaced, in any form, on a Badfinger record. Some, like Coppertone Blues, Sille Veb, Weep Baby, and Catherine Cares, are actually better than many tracks the band chose to release.

Pete Ham was a great talent. More than 20 years after the fact, songs he considered castoffs can take their place alongside his immense and important contributions to popular music.


Dorsett Evening Echo
Issue: April 19, 1997
reviewed by Marc Rossi

Anyone with a more than passing interest in pop history will know that Pete Ham was the main singer/songwriter with Badfinger, the cherishably gifted quartet from Swansea who (along with American soul mates like Big Star and The Raspberries) unfashionably flew the flag for snappy, succinct guitar-based pop music during the worst and most bloated excesses of the early 70's.

Previously-unissued Pete Ham demos, intimately-recorded and uniformly excellent, are in evidence on 7 Park Avenue. The sweetly-sung acoustic demo of No Matter What is worth the asking price alone, although there are songs on the album (Coppertone Blues, No More, I Know That You Should) of such obvious quality that it simply begs belief to think that they were never recorded or released by Badfinger in the first place.

Signed to Apple in 1968, a crippling series of financial and personal setbacks robbed them of their momentum and completely eroded their self-worth, to the point where a bitterly disillusioned Pete Ham committed suicide in 1975. Fellow-member Tom Evans followed suit, hanging himself (just as Ham had done) in 1983.

Fixating on their awful demise is no way to remember them, though - far more fittingly, a listen to 7 Park Avenue will reassure you that Badfinger's true legacy is a series of huge-hearted, achingly melodic and soaringly uplifting songs.

Anglia Advertiser
Issue: April 18, 1997
reviewed by Fraser McKay

Badfinger will probably be used in years as an example to youngsters NOT to join a band. The 'Finger enjoyed a smattering of success at the start, but then it all went downhill - management problems, bad record deals, eventually lead to the suicide of the band's two main principal songwriter's. Pete Ham was the first to tragically take his own life and 7 Park Avenue is a collection of demo and home recordings which have been spruced up with added instrumentation. This is no naff Free As A Bird exercise though, as Dan Matovina has ensured Ham's vocals and guitar playing are the album's focus.

Record Collector
May, 1997
reviewed by Peter Doggett

... 7 Park Avenue is a timely (and timeless) reminder of why anyone cared about Pete Ham in the first place. It's a set of home demos, which have been subtly overdubbed in recent years to support Ham's original guitars, bass, keyboards and percussion. That in itself could have been a disaster, but there's not a moment where the additions overshadow Ham's own work.

No Matter What is the only Badfinger hit sampled here, inevitably losing something of its appeal without the power pop trappings of the original single. There's just one other familiar song, Matted Spam from the 1974 Warner Brothers LP Badfinger - but intriguingly Ham wandered into the lyrics for Day After Day midway through.

The rest is new to you, which for once isn't a euphemism for "Not released because everyone hated it." Badfinger quickly got tired of the Beatles comparisons, but Pete Ham's melodic flair is reminiscent of McCartney at his best. Catherine Cares would have been a guaranteed hit single in 1968 or 1969; likewise Just Look Inside The Cover. Coppertone Blues ties the same delicious tunefulness to a folkier feel, while Live Love All Of Your Days and Leaving On A Midnight Train are the equal of any of Badfinger's rockers.

It's probably overstating the case to call the final two tracks "a virtual suicide note", as it does in the notes, but No More and Ringside both have a melancholy air that is somehow beyond desperation. Within two weeks of recording those songs, Pete Ham killed himself; this superbly packaged and conceived set is a worthy tribute.

The Riverfront Times (St. Louis)
Issue: April 16-22
reviewed by Jordan Oakes (from article entitled Late Bloomers)

Rock 'n' roll suicide isn't too common. Sure, the fabled slow demise from drugs and alcohol may be death by one's own hand, but it's not the emergency exit chosen by a select, tortured few. In the case of Pete Ham of Badfinger and Jim Ellison of Material Issue: , young men with so many songs left to write, it seems a particular waste. Although their suicides are separated by over 20 years, the two were kindred spirits (perhaps now they literally are) - they didn't sound alike, but both championed a symmetrical combination of pop trendy and rock energy.

Ham hanged himself in 1975 after Badfinger fell into financial quicksand. Last June, Ellison spent his future on a garage's worth of carbon monoxide. All that either left behind was a document of his unhappiness - a suicide note - and a lot of great music. Like the label's other anthologies of ill-fated talents such as Nick Drake (probably a suicide) and Chris Bell (not a suicide), the Pete Ham and Jim Ellison collections show that Rykodisc is aware of how to tie up loose ends - or at least gather them. Ellison and Ham weren't cult members so anxious to move on to the next life that they couldn't contain themselves, but they were looking for something otherworldly, and music was their space ship…

Badfinger's hits like Day After Day, Baby Blue and No Matter What were perfect singles that sounded like a revitalized 70's Beatles. The rich voice behind these songs belonged to Pete Ham, who wrote and sang like a sadder Paul McCartney with a palpably bigger heart. 7 Park Avenue collects demos Ham recorded over a span of years. Rough and unfinished-sounding, the songs hang together as a portrait of a likewise rough, and unfinished life.

Singing the Coppertone Blues can't keep Ham's thin skin safe from melancholy's burn. The mysteriously titled acoustic demo is one of the most beautiful ballads ever - as gentle, fragile and obscure as anything by Big Star or Neil Young. His heart on his sleeve, Ham emotes plaintively, but the song is a perfectly cut valentine. There are surprises (but not detours) on 7 Park Avenue, like the Stax groove of Matted Spam (also recorded by Badfinger) and an energetic acoustic version of No Matter What. Perhaps this collection - this isolation - of Ham's music will reveal his vision as one of the most compelling, if pain-fueled, in pop history.

Fans of the tortured-artist Hell of Fame, which includes (among the living) Brian Wilson and Syd Barrett, will find this troubled soul a welcome addition. Whatever caused Pete Ham and Jim Ellison to take their own lives - a killer case of depression, external circumstances, or a deadly cocktail of both - they both made life-affirming music with an undying resonance.

Philadelphia Weekly
March 30, 1997
reviewed by Barry Gutman

Badfinger guitarist Joey Molland may have looked a bit like Paul McCartney, but it was Pete Ham who was blessed with the Beatles' tender voice and prolific songwriting talent. Just how prolific is made clear on 7 Park Avenue, a collection of 18 home demos or songs that, save for two (Matted Spam and the hit, No Matter What), were never released. The material includes fully arranged infectious rockers Catherine Cares, It Doesn't Really Matter, and Leaving On A Midnight Train that showcase Ham's instrumental resourcefulness as well as lovely, sparsely acoustic ballads the hymn-like Dear Father, Weep Baby, and the idyllic Island that are enriched by Ham's tender vocals. Because despair led Ham to hang himself in 1975, it's sad and ironic to hear him sing Just How Lucky We Are. But we can consider ourselves lucky, indeed, that this cache of high-quality material has been unearthed.

Rating - Four stars (out of Five)

The Buffalo Art Voice
Issue: May 21-27, 1997 - Hip Parade column
reviewed by Mark Norris

Although the music of Badfinger and chief songwriter Pete Ham remain staples of classic rock radio, few people are familiar with the band itself or its tragic legacy. Forming under the name The Iveys in 1966, the group were signed to the Beatles fledgling Apple label in 1968. Changing their name to Badfinger, the group had a string of top hits on both sides of the ocean including No Matter What, Baby Blue, Day After Day, and Paul McCartney's Come And Get It. But life under the Beatles banner was not an easy one, and the band's incredible talents for creating pop masterpieces were overshadowed by mentions of the Fab Four. 7 Park Avenue collects demo versions of mostly unreleased Badfinger tracks which take on a startling depth in light of Ham's suicide in 1975 (fellow Badfinger Tom Evans would also take his own life in 1983, bringing the band's story to a tragic close). The album plays like a long running diary reflecting on a sad life and impending death. Tracks like No More and Ringside show a clearly disillusioned man at the end of his rope, but juxtaposed with a few light hearted tracks such as Ham's tribute to his mother Catherine Cares and the life affirming Just How Lucky We Are. The album is not without a few immaculate rays of hope. Ham is best in his reflective moods with such tracks as the lovely Dear Father, Weep Baby, and Island. A demo version of No Matter What is included to entice the collectors. 7 Park Avenue is a lost legacy that has thankfully finally found its way to the ears of the public… A total dig it!

Time And A Word
Issue: Spring 1997
reviewed by - Robert Silverstein

Rather than dwell upon the morbid details of singer-songwriter Pete Ham's tragic death in 1975, let me unequivocally state that 7 Park Avenue brings to light some of Ham's greatest and most personal songs. Although the best of Pete Ham went on to become huge hits with the group Badfinger, the splendid Ham demos showcased here presents a vital behind-the-scenes glimpse at one of the most gifted songwriters of post-Beatles pop. Produced by Dan Matovina, author of the upcoming book, Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger, these 18 tracks - recorded in mono during the late 60's and early 70's - have been sonically cleansed with several tracks featuring recent overdubs added by two of Ham's former band mates. 7 Park Avenue includes a complete lyric sheet, while insightful liner notes by Andy Davis concerning this posthumous release will leave listeners shaking their heads in disbelief.

CMJ New Music
May, 1997
reviewed by James Lien in the column: Flashback (In The Bins)

Pete Ham was the guiding talent behind Badfinger, one of the great undersung cult artists of the 1970's, and his death by his own hand in 1975 was one of the saddest endings in the history of pop music.

7 Park Avenue (Rykodisc) is a collection of his rare and intimate home demos, compiled by the author of a forthcoming, definitive Badfinger biography. These home demos won't take the place of Straight Up or The Best Of Badfinger Vol. 1, but if, like me, you're a hopeless fan of Ham's haunting melodic sensibility and his soothing world-weary voice, you won't be disappointed by this disc.

Drums and bass were added to some tracks much later, and I can kind of tell which ones, but frankly, I hardly noticed - unlike virtually every other example of "ghosting" on the market, the producers appear to have kept the original integrity of these home recordings intact.

Relix
Issue: July 1997
reviewed by Michael Skidmore

The Welsh group, Badfinger, was plagued by tragedy as two of its members committed suicide. Pete Ham, the group's leading light and main songwriter was one, Tom Evans was the other. While premature deaths are sad, the early demise of Pete Ham was a particular loss - he was a pop writer with imagination, class, and great potential. A recent release, 7 Park Avenue (Ryko), contains 18 previously unreleased recordings, mostly recorded by Ham alone. Included are early versions of Badfinger songs such as "No Matter What" and "Coppertone Blues." Ultimately, these intimate recordings show just how much of an untapped talent Ham was. The original mono recordings were cleansed and tasteful additional overdubs were added by former Badfinger member Bob Jackson and former Iveys member Ron Griffiths.


Ink Nineteen
Issue: July 1997
reviewed by Hal Horowitz

It's almost too cruel to mention that if Pete Ham had any inkling of the influence he'd have as a songwriter to a generation thirty years later, he might have thought twice about hanging himself in April of 1975. Twenty-two years after his tragic suicide, Ham is still a force in contemporary pop as evidenced by Mariah Carey's hit version of Without You.

But it still comes as a revelation to hear Ham's home demos of his songs on the newly released 7 Park Avenue (the title refers to the address of Badfinger's residence in London, which was also the location of a demo studio). Originally recorded and overdubbed on two-track reel-to-reel tapes, these 18 mono songs (a few of which ended up on Badfinger albums in rearranged versions), featuring Pete's guitar and vocals, sound remarkably good. In honesty, the liner notes explain that some doctoring was done to these tapes with bass, and percussion added in 1995 to fill out the sound. But this was no hack job. Ham's voice sounds clean and clear, and all the guitar parts are played by him. Most importantly though, these demo performances which were never intended for public hearing, show Ham's deeply felt emotion and knack for writing a great pop hook while keeping the passion and feelings pure…

The 910
Volume 5 No. 5/6 (MARCH 1997)
reviewed by Doug Sulphy

Pete Ham was, of course, one of the guiding members of Badfinger. Now, more than two decades after his tragic suicide (and thanks to Badfinger expert Dan Matovina, who arranged for the acquisition of these tapes from the Ham estate) Rykodisc is releasing a disc of recordings Pete made in his home studio. Except for the last five cuts (from the Japanese edition of the CD), the sound quality is excellent… I believe this is an important enough release so I'll go through the songs one-by-one. If Pete Ham had been with The Beatles this would certainly have been my Editor's Choice this time around.

1. Catherine Cares
Although this has an undeniably catchy hook, I feel the lyrics about Pete Ham's Mum are a little lame. Still, it's a great, punchy lead-off to the album.

2. Coppertone Blues
An unadorned voice/guitar demo. One of the highlights of the set, and a fine song that's better than many of Pete's legitimately issued compositions.

3. It Doesn't Really Matter
A brilliant pop song and a near perfect vocal. Another highlight. Like many of the songs on this disc, you can't help wondering why this was passed by when it came time to record the albums.

4. Live Love All Of Your Days
 This would have fit just fine on Magic Christian Music or No Dice . Again, a marvelous hook and impassioned vocal from Pete make this one more than ordinary.

5. Would You Deny
Another solo performance. A beautiful melody and fine vocal, even though the lyrics don't seem to have been finished.

6. Dear Father
This sounds a bit like an early version of Name Of The Game mixed with Carry On Til Tomorrow. Another pretty tune, with slightly syrupy lyrics.

7. Matted Spam
A few minutes of soul as a change of pace. Quite nice and fun as Pete works in some of the lyrics from Day After Day.

8. No Matter What
 Thank God the overdubbing guys had the good sense to leave this one alone. This acoustic demo of one of Badfinger's biggest hits features an impressive vocal from Pete. This might have been a perfect performance, but its obvious that Pete hasn't come up with an ending for the song yet. Even as it is, it's certainly another highlight.

9. Leaving On A Midnight Train
Similar in feel to Rock Of All Ages but not as interesting. All right, for what it is, but just another rock'n'roller to this listener.

10. Weep Baby
Another solo guitar/vocal performance. another beautiful melody. Fine lyrics and a masterful vocal from Pete.

11. Hand In Hand
I guess this was Pete's attempt to write a 60's anthem. It's a fine, dippy period piece.

12. Sille Veb
Just the opposite of the previous track, this is a pretty love song written by Pete to one of his girlfriends.

13. I Know That You Should
 This sounds a little like an embryonic Baby Blue to me. Pete's impassioned vocal provides most of the interest here.

14. Island
Here's a surprise - a Caribbean flavored love song. This sounds nothing like anything Badfinger ever recorded.

15. Just Look Inside The Cover
Not bad, but certainly no great loss to the world of pop music, if it had been left unreleased. Although it has interesting lyrics, this sounds like it was never really finished.

16. Just How Lucky We Are
One of the extraordinary things about this CD is that it showcases Pete Ham's vocal talents in a way that the official Badfinger releases never really did. The melody here is pretty but not remarkable and the song sounds slightly unfinished - but, again, the vocal carries it off.

17. No More
This and Ringside are Pete's musical suicide notes, recorded the week before he hung himself. Even without that knowledge, these are harrowing performances, with Pete's voice sounding eerily like Nick Drake (a similarly talented folk singer who committed suicide at about the same time). You'd have to be cold-hearted indeed not to be affected by this and the following song. Given his mental state at the time, it's amazing that these numbers are as good as they are - and they are very, very good.

18. Ringside
Even more than in No More, Pete directly addresses the problems that plagued him towards the end of his life. These two numbers are, by their nature, so emotionally charged that they tend to overshadow some of the other gems on this disc. Multiple listenings won't cure that, but will allow you to appreciate the other songs as well.

19. Just A Chance
This and the following cuts are bonus tracks on the Japanese CD - Hardcore collectors take note! These aren't as good sound quality as the earlier numbers, but they're certainly worth being heard (with the two solo demos from Wish You Were Here being a particular treat).

20. The Heart That Can't Be Understood
Another fine, melodic number.

21. Come Come Tomorrow
One of the weaker demos - this isn't out and out bad, but does sound like something that was never worked out.

22. Blessing In Disguise
This is a little more advanced that Come Come Tomorrow, but still sounds like a work-in-progress.

23. Know One Knows
Another real highlight for me is this acoustic version of Know One Knows. This pleasant, upbeat number actually works better in the demo than it does on the fully arranged performance that can be heard on Wish You Were Here.

San Francisco Chronicle
April 6, 1997
reviewed by Denise Sullivan

More than 20 years after the Badfinger guitarist's suicide, Pete Ham's solo material from the late 60's and early 70's was unearthed for this collection, in stores Tuesday. Though Badfinger members once were perceived as Beatles protégés because of their association with Paul McCartney and Apple Records, Ham's own songs helped form the foundation for modern power-pop.

Catherine Cares, Hand In Hand and I Know That You Should have the same pop-rock spirit as the group's biggest hits, Come And Get It and Day After Day, but Ham (who also co-wrote the rock standard Without You, made famous by Harry Nilsson) penned an equal number of soul-searching ballads during his solo tenure; Dear Father and Sille Veb are but two of the simple, McCartney-esque stunners included. Former band mates Bob Jackson and Ron Griffiths assisted in overdubbing some of the raw tapes, but most of the sounds are Ham's. The prerelease solo acoustic version of No Matter What is an added bonus for Badfinger completists, but it showcases only a fraction of Ham's beautiful legacy.

Houston Press
Issue: April 3-9, 1997
reviewed by Hobart Rowland from column From The Vaults

... Even more pitiful is the saga of Pete Ham, the tortured leader of Badfinger, who hanged himself in 1975 at the age of 27. Suicide was Ham's way of escaping the realization that he'd been betrayed by the ones he'd trusted the most. They'd left his life in financial ruins, his spirit drained.

Tragedy aside, Badfinger was a good band measured against perhaps the greatest rock band ever. The group is still seen by many as little more than a pre-disco Fabricated Four, and for obvious reasons: The Beatles were Badfinger's mentors, affording the band its first record deal on Apple Records and a hit single in the McCartney penned Come And Get It. That in mind, I tried to suspend any undue scrutiny when listening to 7 Park Avenue, a new Rykodisc collection of previously unreleased demos recorded by Ham in his home studio during the late 60's and early 70's.

In the end, doing so didn't require much effort. True, parts of 7 Park Avenue are stubbornly McCartney-esque, and one or two cuts shamelessly ape the echoey live-to-tape feel and signature three-part harmonies that defined early Beatles. But a larger portion of 7 Park Avenue proves that Ham was hardly living in a nostalgic vacuum. The goofy Matted Spam, for example, is an obvious nod to Steve Winwood. There's still more to suggest that Ham was gradually working through his more derivative habits and developing a raw, confessional style all his own. The various kinks and imperfections in performance and production (Ham's recording equipment was primitive) contribute to the intimacy that floods these demos.

In itself, Ham's abbreviated life is tragic. But with the fitfully inspired 7 Park Avenue serving as a reminder of what was lost with his death, the effect on the listener is nothing short of harrowing. Damned is this isn't some of the best music Badfinger never recorded.

The Province (Vancouver B.C.)
Issue: April 17, 1997
reviewed by Tom Harrison

Thirteen years (sic) after Pete Ham's suicide comes this unexpected but welcome collection of the former Badfinger leader's demos. A few feature overdubs that were added for this release - many have spare but effective accompaniment and a few, most notably, his brief run-through of Badfinger's second hit, No Matter What - present Ham alone with his guitar. Only two of the 18 tracks were recorded by Badfinger but Ham was a first-rate songwriter and this is a fine, thoughtfully presented selection of his work.

Rating - Three and 1/2 stars out of five

Stomp Stammer
 Issue: July 1997
 reviewed by Marky Moon

... Anyway, this is a compilation of home-recorded demos Ham did between the late sixties and early seventies, spruced up for sonic improvement, and - ala "Free As A Bird" - with new instrumental overdubs added, many of which are performed by a couple of ex-members of the Iveys and Badfinger. While the decision to meddle with a dead man's past may be questionable (Ham hanged himself in 1975), it seems to have been done with good taste, and a respect for the material, which, although containing very few of Ham's better-known songs, is quite enjoyable. Most of those songs, with Pete on acoustic guitar, piano and vocals, have never even been officially released, thereby making this an even tastier collection. Ham's skills as a pop songwriter have never been widely appreciated, and the unpolished 7 Park Avenue (the title refers to the address the band kept) will likely do little to change that (despite the overdubs, these are basically solo demos, and the music never approaches what the full band could achieve). Still, fans of Badfinger, and great guitar pop in general, will find rewards - such as a subdued demo of "No Matter What," and the devastatingly pained "No More," recording just before his tragic suicide…


Discoveries
January 1998
reviewed by Alex Trevor

Fans of committed songcraft had no worries on Pete Ham's watch.  As guiding light/guitarist for Badfinger, Ham supplied some of the Seventies' toughest, yet tenderest sounds. Under his pen, Badfinger graduated from wide-eyed Beatles protégés to hard bitten surveyors of the business that destroyed them.

Their melodic prowess pushed "Baby Blue," "Day After Day" and "No Matter What" into the US Top Forty.  From Ham's perspective, however, the hook behind Badfinger's first hit, "Come And Get It" - "You better hurry, 'cause it's going' fast" - proved most prophetic.

Battered by crippling lawsuits, and never-ending debts - including a mortgage he could no longer afford - Ham hung himself, aged 27, on April 27, 1975, from the garage rafters of his English home. He left a pregnant girlfriend and a note blaming Badfinger's American business manager, Stan Polley, for the tragedy.

Ham's partner, bassist/guitarist Tom Evans, also hung himself in 1983, after re-forming the band for two overlooked albums with guitarist Joey Molland.  Badfinger's catalogue lay mired in litigation until 1986, when Apple and Warner Brothers Records began reissuing it.

Now comes Rykodisc's 17-track demo collection named after Badfinger's home studio, where Ham took refuge from life's pressures.  Producer Dan Matovina found them during research for Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger, after Ham's brother John revealed their existence.

Matovina spent 1993 removing clicks and dropouts from Ham's original mono masters, followed by a decision to overdub new contributions in 1994-95 from original bassist Ron Griffiths and later-era guitarist-keyboardist Bob Jackson (while keeping Ham's vocals, guitars and other overdubs).

Badfinger bent over backwards to work democratically; its first UK hit, "Maybe Tomorrow," actually came from Evans.  Ham was that rare leader who didn't throw his weight around, yet he spent more time than anyone at 7 Park Avenue. As Matovina's liner notes remark, there'd be times when "everyone else living in the house would just be waking up and making breakfast, and Pete would pop out of the studio with a new song."

These tracks show how much Ham's music mirrored his life.  "Dear Father" and the midtempo "Catherine Cares" are melodic keepsakes to his parents, while "Just Look Inside The Cover" offers his characteristic confidence.  "Weep Baby," among the earliest surviving demos, is an acoustic salute to Bev Ellis, who backwards-spelled name frames the bittersweet "Sille Veb" - as their relationship failed to weather Badfinger's demonic road and studio schedule.

A more whimsical side crops up in "Coppertone Blues," apparently inspired by America's signature Seventies suntan lotion, and the laidback, lilting "Island" - featuring it's composer's whispers as waves.  For a bongo line, Ham taps a rhythm on his trusty Martin acoustic guitar.

Ham's hard-rocking authority is showcased on "Leaving On A Midnight Train," and the original take on "Matted Spam," whose terse syncopation's greatly benefit from the absence of a slick horn motif that clogged its recording on the Badfinger (1974) album.

By the latter year, Ham's internal turmoils are clearly aired on "It Doesn't Really Matter," which rallies behind Anne Ferguson - his girlfriend, and also married to roadie Ian Ferguson, a scene that fostered extreme displeasure in the Badfinger ranks.

Yet, as 1975 opens, Ham is reassuring her "Just How Lucky We Are," as the group lies on the financial rocks - broken by Polley's maneuvers to grab their income.  That leads to his final recordings, which will garner the most attention.  "No More" and "Ringside" are the epitaphs of a proud man cornered by a business which has ground him up, and spat him out. Ironically, Ham uses a sprightly pop melody to underline "No More"'s harrowing resignation: "Drunken days/ Sleepless nights/Someone please turn out the light/I can't face the mirror anymore."

"Ringside"'s lone electric guitar thrums like a funeral march.  His voice cracking, Ham surveys his position ("Take your seat at the ringside/Watch them bidding for your blood"), pleads for some last-minute understanding ("Take me back to the country"), before deciding that no hope exists: "For I can't bear to feel the sorrow/Of the evil that you've shown."  It's a chilling reminder of what might have been, as Ham would have been 50 this year.

Badfinger acolytes will find an embarrassment of riches to interest them; so will home recording aficionados wanting more insights on the creative process.  Yet 7 Park Avenue's appeal should extend beyond these natural constituencies; it's a timely reminder of Ham's commitment to his craft, as well as a compelling glimpse of a talent that was prematurely snuffed out.  This music doesn't lie.

The Bob
Fall 1997 From The Vaults column
by David Snyder

…The "producers" of 7 Park Avenue, a fair sized collection of demos by Pete Ham, go even further in blurring the picture. Besides the usual cleaning up of the masters, the producers of this set have added newly recorded accompaniment. Without hearing the source material it's impossible to argue about it. but on its own I'd have to say the aural quality and instrument balance sound better than one would expect. Ham's vocals are clear and poignant throughout. A certain sad beauty hangs over the album, whether it's a rocker like "Catherine Cares" or a gentle mid tempo number like "It Doesn't Really matter" or a guitar-and-voice ballad like "Ringside." While Ham has been gone for almost 20 years now, it's a pleasure to have him bring something new into my life.

Cake
Issue 60
by John F. Butland

Ham, one of the main songwriters in the sorely missed Badfinger, had the home recording DIY thing happening back when Bob Pollard (Guided By Voices) was still in an elementary school classroom, as a student.  The title comes from the address where most of the 18 demos were recorded between '67 and '75. It's a wonderful collection of unassuming, yet affecting pop songs, some power pop and some quite tender and melodic. In a word, fascinating.


Puncture
December 1997 from column GEEZERS
by Mike Lehecka

... As Monty Python heralded in The Life Of Brian, "Bring Out Your Dead!", this year's most fascinating archive set was 7 Park Avenue, a collection of demos from Badfinger leader Pete Ham, who hanged himself in 1975, but stayed a hummable charmer til the end…

The Star
July 31, 1997
reviewed by John Everson

It's about 25 years after the fact, but Badfinger collectors can now add the solo demo recordings of Badfinger founder Pete Ham to their collections. 7 Park Avenue documents the demos Ham recorded in the late '60s and early '70s during his tenure with The Iveys and Badfinger. Before taking his own life in 1975, Ham wrote three of the most memorable hits from the era in "No Matter What," "Baby Blue" and "Day After Day," as well as co-writing a hit which has been remade by several artists, "Without You." 7 Park Avenue, listens like a coffee house performance by a gifted Beatlesque pop writer. Focusing mainly on Ham's voice and guitar (with some keyboards and rhythm section additions) the disc offers an intriguing look into the demos of a master songwriter. "Catherine Cares" and "Coppertone Blues" leave the listener wishing for full band Badfinger versions and "Leaving On A Midnight Train" is a complete piano rocker that makes one wonder if Paul McCartney snuck into the studio to handle the mic. None of these, unfortunately, were ever recorded by Badfinger. 7 Park Avenue also includes an early, amazing demo of "No Matter What."


Hi Fi News
July 1997
by Ken Kessler

Posthumous 18-track would-have-been-a solo-album from the man who WAS Badfinger -- the first truly Beatlesque band. Some of the most achingly gorgeous pop balladry ever, from the co-author of "Without You." Exquisite.

Surrey Advertiser
June 6, 1997
unknown reviewer

The story of Badfinger has been pretty neglected over the years, allowing their main songwriter and front man Ham to become one of the forgotten tragedies with which the rock world is littered…

Although songwriting duties were shared democratically within Badfinger, Ham spent a lot of time in the outfit's home studio - the album title is that address - and amassed an impressive collection of songs, 18 of which are released here for the first time…

Some of the tracks have new overdubs from former Badfinger member Bob Jackson and Ron Griffiths, who played with Ham in its forerunner, the Iveys, while others are presented in their raw, stripped down emotional state.

Sadly we will never know just how good Ham could have become, but this is a fitting tribute to a talent destroyed all too soon.

Hartbeat
July 1997
by Nigel Cross

Get me on a good day and I will admit a secret liking for Badfinger's Come And Get It even though I found most of their albums and sundry singles just too darn slick for my tastes. It was always a case of I'd like to like Badfinger but… so this posthumous collection of home demos by one of the band's leading lights is a real revelation

… these recordings on 7 Park Avenue, done domestically at Pete Ham's house in Golders Green on a Revox Sound-On-Sound tape machine, have been collated, compiled and released to coincide with a major biography on this South Wales band, with a minimum of tarting up and retrospective meddling. And they're staggering - in their bare-boned Urform, Ham's genius as one of Britain's greatest songwriters comes shining through in tandem for all the bitterness for the rock biz that eventually killed him off and which scolds over on tunes like No More and Ringside. 7 Park Avenue is a savage indictment of the music machine and a fine testament to a musician who should still be writing and still be performing in the very eye of the Power Pop genre.

Uncut
August 1997
by Bob Stanley

How would history treat Beatles-buddies Badfinger if two members of the group hadn't taken their own lives? Unlike most famous rock'n'roll suicides, there was really nothing in primo powerpop like No Matter What or Baby Blue to suggest impending tragedy. But death becomes pop stars, and Ham's home demos are on general release some 22 years after his death.

No question, the boy had a way with a McCartney-esque melody (check Dear Father or the rough No Matter What), while the opening Catherine Cares or Just Look Inside The Cover could grace the next Oasis album… Pete Ham emerges as a songwriter worthy of the column inches his death generated.

Brumbeat
June 1997
by Steve Morris

The ill-fated Badfinger front man left behind reels and reels of pretty sophisticated demos and it's these, carefully cleaned up and sensitively overdubbed where necessary that makes up this illuminating eighteen tracker. illuminating in it's revelation of No MAtter What in acoustic demo state, yet more chillingly illuminating as a beautifully melodic diary of despair as Ham notes relationship problems and finally with No More and Ringside the realisation that his musical dream has been stolen, subverted, and raped by the biz.

Tyke News
Summer 1997
by Tim Moon

... On this album of rescued demos Pete Ham is just a damn good songwriter of the type you could hear in many a folk club, except better. It's around twenty years since he took his own life. His experiences of ripped off within his band, Badfinger, and having trouble with the mortgage despite having written the mega hit Without You compounded by him into deep depression. Sadly the co-writer of Without You, Tom Evans, followed nine years later. But here the demos, sometimes enhanced by multi tracking, sometimes solo, sometimes with new additions, show a songwriter who knew how to do it. The demo of the Badfinger hit, No Matter What shows that it's still a great song stripped down. And sadly so is No More, a sprightly tune and strong melody help to cover lyrics of a man going down never to rise. Shame. In these days of unplugged and Ray Davies touring solo Pete Ham could have been up there. Buy it in recognition of that alone.

Dover Express
July 17, 1997
by Jon Johnson

... Rykodisc, one of the classiest labels around, have recently released 7 Park Avenue - an astonishing album comprised of demos that Ham recorded on his home two track. Although some new overdubs have been added, the best cuts feature Ham alone, the demo of No Matter What, which reached number 5 as a single, and the beautiful Coppertone Blues being just two examples. An intimate album, it is also a valuable look at a truly great talent.

SCUZZ
January 1998
by Darren Stockford

An album of mainly acoustic demos from the ex-Badfinger vocalist/guitarist, the earliest of which dates back to the late Sixties. The latest were recorded just days before his death in April 1975, a time when Ham was in the dark throes of depression, the depression that eventually led to him taking his own life and the disintegration of Badfinger. Ham's songwriting genius is indisputable throughout, his positivity inspiring. Which is why, when that optimism eventually gives way to lines like "drunken days, drunken nights, someone please turn out the light, I can't face the mirror anymore" (from No More) it's all the more heartbreaking.

CHEW
November 1997
by Dave Gil de Rubio

The story of Badfinger is one of a talented group finding fame and fortune via association with a legendary band (The Beatles) which eventually became their albatross. The first victim of this good-luck- gone-bad was co-founder Pete Ham. Named after the address the band moved to when they first arrived in London, 7 PARK AVENUE is a collection of demos Ham recorded in the house's sound-proof studio. Although these recordings have minimal overdubs provided by studio musicians decades later, all vocals, guitar solos and licks are Ham's original performances from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The one thread running through the 18 songs brought together on this collection is how emotional this sensitive songwriter was. Some of his earliest songs a naked ballads professing the spiritual bond between him and his future wife Beverley "Weep Baby" and a clever South Seas ditty inspired by his niece "Island" accompanied by light bongos and Hawaiian slide played on his upturned Martin. Ham even wrote a perfect slice of pop dedicated to and about his mum ("Catherine Cares"). In 1970, Badfinger played on the soundtrack to the Peter Sellers film "The Magic Christian," scoring a hit with the Paul McCartney-penned "Come And Get It." Coupled with the smash "No Matter What" that quickly followed, the band's detractors claimed Badfinger was solely benefiting due to their connection with the Beatles. The demo of "No Matter What" appears here with a much sparser arrangement, making it more endearing than the originally released version. It also shows that, although the Fab Four were an influence, Pete Ham's knack for writing pop songs went beyond merely aping Lennon-McCartney. While Pete Ham's sensitivity made him a genius with the ballad, some of his best works were either mid-tempo numbers or full out rockers. "Midnight Train" with its cool fuzz guitar and pounding piano is perfect accessible pop. The demo of "Matted Spam," (a song that eventually ended up with a more complex arrangement on Badfinger's 1974 Warner Brothers debut following a break with Apple), is a flat-out funky jam with great syncopation and oodles of hooks. That same year, Ham's marriage went asunder. He took up with a roadie's estranged wife, which proved to be an unpopular decision with the rest of the band. "It Doesn't Really Matter" is a piece of Beatlesque pop that showed his defiance in the face of this disapproval. Being a sensitive artist may have made for great music, but it was also an Achilles heel that proved to be Pete Ham's undoing in the face of bad business deals and a rocky personal life. The last two numbers on this collection ("No More" and "Ringside") address Ham's severe depression. In "Ringside," he goes as far as to sing: "Take me back to the father/Take me, take me, take me home/For I can't bear to feel the sorrow/Of the evil you've shown." Bear it he couldn't. On the morning of April 24th, 1975, Pete Ham hung himself. He was only 27 years old, and his special brand of pop music was silenced forever.


Friday Morning Quarterback
January 10, 1997
Ken Sharp

Next to The Beatles, the most popular band on the group's Apple records label was unquestionably Badfinger. Formed in the late 60's, the group, led by singer/guitarist/keyboardist Pete Ham, carved out their own unmistakeable brand of melodic Pop with such timeless gems as "No Matter What," "Come And Get it,: "Baby Blue" and "Day After Day." On March 18th, Rykodisc will issue Pete Ham's 7 Park Avenue (named after the location of Badfinger's rehearsal studio), a collection of previously unreleased home demos circa the late 60's - early 70's, Overseen by Badfinger expert and biographer Dan Matovina, this collection is a labor of love. Listening to the wonderful 18 tracks included on this release, one is both saddened and uplifted: saddened at the tragic loss of a monstrous talent (Ham, distraught over disastrous business problems, committed suicide in 1975) and uplifted by the beautiful songs and his rich, soulful voice. To ensure pristine quality, the original mono masters have been declicked and remastered. Tracks include demos of Badfinger's "No Matter What" and "Matted Spam." Other tunes include "Coppertone Blues" (the record's indisputable highlight, a magnificently moving song), "Catherine Cares," "It Doesn't Really Matter," "Would You Deny," "Live Love All Of Your Days," "Dear Father," "Leaving On A Midnight Train" (featuring scorching, glorious fuzzed-out lead guitar playing by Ham), "Weep Baby," the pure Pop pleasure of "Hand In Hand," "Sille Veb," "Island," "I Know That You Should," "Just Look Inside The Cover" and "Just How Lucky We Are." {articulately heart wrenching are the final two songs, "No More" and "Ringside," written a week or two before Ham killed himself. The bitter lyrics and Ham's world-weary voice all seem to point towards his tragic end.

All Music Guide
Richie Unterberger

Only two of these 18 tracks ("No Matter What" and "Matted Spam") were recorded by Badfinger. But the rest of these solo studio demos are quite up to scratch with Badfinger's usual standards: it's not nearly as good as Paul McCartney's late Beatle tracks, for instance, but it's actually better than McCartney's typical early solo material. Ham is a thinking listener's rock romantic, offering emotional, wistful words and melodies without sounding sappy. Purists should be aware that, although Ham played most of the instruments here, some overdubs were added in the 1990s by other musicians, for the purpose of giving the tracks a fuller, more balanced sound. It's difficult to judge whether this decision was justified without hearing the original versions, though one wonders whether diehard Badfinger fans (the primary audience for this release) would really care that much about any sonic imperfections in the originals. In any case, the end result sounds pretty tasteful, without any obvious concessions to dressing up the essential sounds in modern technology.

Benno Internet Magazine
April 1997
Tommy Bergman

27 years old Pete Ham took his life on April 24, 1975. In a first version of this review I was very diplomatic, not blaming the music industry for this tragic event. I've changed my mind. To each and every cynical scum bag in the business that robbed Ham not only of his money but also of his visions and in the end his life: Fuck you, and may you burn in Hell!! The material on "7 Park Avenue" are Ham compositions from late '60s early '70s, recorded in the studio whose address make up the album title. Some of them are stripped-down solo versions of some Ham-penned Badfinger songs, but most of them are just songs Ham wrote that by different reasons didn't found their way into any Badfinger album. Most of them are sparsely orchestrated and delicately arranged, leaving nothing else but a sensitive Pete Ham performing songs that are both personal and intimate in a way that makes it impossible to be indifferent to them. Even if this album sound more like Alex Chilton's (okay, Big Star's, then) "Sister Lovers" (aka "Third"), listening to "7 Park Avenue" makes me come to think of another Big Star, namely Chris Bell, someone I imagine Ham shared even more things with, especially outside the music. That both of them died way too early is nothing but a huge tragedy and a big loss, I think, and listening to these recordings fill me with lots of different feelings, most of all sadness over the fact that an extraordinary songwriting talent never got the chance to develop all his potential. Wholeheartedly recommended. Just a final note: This is another of those records that are the reason why one cannot but love Rykodisc, not the least for the informative linear notes and the general care they take in their releases. I wish there were more labels like this.

David Elliott Reviews
http://www.geocities.com/taosterman/badfinger.htm

Score one for Rykodisc! Pete was evidently a busy bee prior to his death, and this collection of demos is just the ticket for the discerning power-pop lover. The early version of "No Matter What" is on here, as well as gentle, beautiful acoustic malarkey in the form of "Coppertone Blues", "Island", and his stark, depressing odes to suicide "No More" and "Ringside". Chilling stuff. Get some Ham into your diet. I've been waiting to use that joke the whole time I've been writing these reviews. I hope you appreciate it.

Reader Comments
mikeyk@voyager.net
My impression after purchasing this was total amazement. After reading all that I have about Badfinger, it was obvious how totally democratic this band was...Pete was really holding back a wealth of talent so that the other three could contribute equally. Noble, but a damn shame. If they would have had a real manager and some direction, they would have been unstoppable. Well, maybe not...the kind of success they could have achieved might have totally ruined them. Is it worse to be poor, downtrodden creative geniuses, or fabulously wealthy sellout schlock artists?

E-Opinions
Badfinger Genius
Pete Ham's 7 Park Avenue
by sparkospunky
June 26 , 2001

Pros: Great songs by a great songwriter, stripped down demo mode
Cons: Some might not like the lack of polish
The Bottom Line: This album presents the raw, unpolished work of a great songwriter and musician--it's a gem that any music aficionado will appreciate.
Recommended: Yes - Rating: 5 stars

Pete Ham's 7 Park Avenue is the type of album that the true music fan will salivate over--you might call it a "diamond in the rough". All of the songs on the album are demos recorded by Ham on very primitive equipment in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Although additional musicians were brought in in 1993 or so to do overdubs on some of the tracks, the liner notes give the assurance that all vocal performances and guitar licks are as originally performed by Pete Ham. Because of the original recording methods that Ham employed, the album contains a disclaimer that some tracks may be a little unbalanced musically, but to me that's the whole appeal of a work like this--it's real, genuine and raw. Heck, I wish they would have left off the overdubs--I would prefer a total homemade album, but the record company couldn't resist the opportunity to add a commercial sheen to this collection of tunes.

Pete Ham was the moving force behind the British power pop band Badfinger. Discovered by Paul McCartney and signed immediately to the Apple label, Badfinger delivered several solid albums before tragedy struck the group--Ham committed suicide in 1975, and another member killed himself as well, although I'm not sure when. Although their time was brief, Badfinger had several songs which made the charts, and the songwriting skills of Pete Ham were largely the reason.

Ham shows a keen affinity for family on Catherine Cares, a song about his mother, Dear Father, dedicated to his father, and Sille Veb, a tune about his wife with her name spelled backwards. All of these songs show Ham's skill at writing a melody, although the simple acoustic accompaniment of Dear Father is touching and very relevant. Coppertone Blues, featuring only Ham and his acoustic guitar, is anything but the blues, and features some fine guitar playing by this talented musician.

Matted Spam is some pretty edgy blues-rock which shows some of the mixing imbalances that the liner notes warn about--the vocals are a little buried in the mix, but you can still get the general idea. No Matter What was a huge hit for Badfinger, but Ham's simple acoustic version puts a whole new spin on the song, which I really like.

Weep Baby and Hand In Hand are acoustic numbers with some overdubbed vocals and bass guitar, but both tracks retain that homemade feel. Island gives us a touch of the Caribbean, while I Know That You Should is the type of British power pop that Badfinger practically patented. No More and Ringside convey the strength of Ham as songwriter--he was a slave to the melody, and that's the hallmark of any great songwriter.

This unique recording has a total of eighteen tracks--if you're like me, the obscure and raw feel of these songs will mesmerize you. The foldout booklet is loaded with information about Pete Ham and Badfinger, and about the recording of this album. The lyrics to each track are included also.
This album may not be for everyone--if you geek out over stuff like this, like I do, you need to pick it up. If you would like to see the work of a great songwriter in a stripped down mode, this is a fine example, and the genius of Pete Ham shines through clearly.


Extended Playhouse
Rodney Griffith
2001

Peter William Ham (1947-1975) was one of the preeminent songwriting talents of the 1960s and 1970s, although only recently has there been a concerted attempt to establish this. In spite of his position as one of the principal creators in the Iveys and Badfinger, his reputation has languished, unjustly, in relative obscurity. In either incarnation Ham was the group's most prodigious, and arguably its most gifted songwriter. The two CD collections of his demos, 7 Park Avenue and Golders Green, are a treasure trove of previously unknown pop songs, a legacy many of his fans hadn't even guessed existed.

The original tapes — left to Pete's brother, John Ham, who later entrusted them to Badfinger biographer Dan Matovina — were recorded at the Iveys/Badfinger house in Golders Green on a Revox Sound-On-Sound tape machine. Constructing arrangements as elaborate as the portable mono recorder allowed, Pete accompanied himself on guitar, keyboards, percussion and even drums, overdubbing harmonies to eventually create fully formed ideas for presentation to the Iveys and later Badfinger. The rescued tapes showed considerable deterioration, necessitating extensive technical cleanup under Matovina's direction in 1993. Some of the demos were then subtly enhanced with careful regard to the accuracy of the era in which they were recorded. (None of the lead guitar or vocal parts were altered.) Notably, former associates including Iveys member Ron Griffiths and onetime Badfinger keyboardist Bob Jackson contributed to the overdubbing sessions. The sound quality is impressive given the tapes' origins; in only a few instances (e.g. "Sille Veb") are the source limitations apparent enough to be distracting.

Only a few songs are familiar, and surprisingly few follow in a recognisable Badfinger style. 7 Park Avenue contains a beautiful acoustic reading of "No Matter What" and an early version of "Island" more closely resembling The Who Sell Out than any Badfinger recording. Golders Green contains a piano demo of "Midnight Caller" that includes a harmony part that was not used when the song was recorded for No Dice. "Without You" appears in its embryonic form as "If It's Love" (missing the Tom Evans chorus, "I can't live/If living is without you"). Of the unfamiliar songs, "Live Love All Of Your Days" would not have sounded out of place on Maybe Tomorrow or even Magic Christian Music; "It Doesn't Really Matter" is brother to "No Matter What."

For the most part 7 Park Avenue and Golders Green explore directions Badfinger never chose to take or that the Iveys were never able to have released. Pete's acoustic "Coppertone Blues" is stunning and hypnotic, as if the Beatles' "Julia" had been written and recorded by Paul instead of John. "Sille Veb" (his onetime girlfriend, Bev Ellis, spelled backwards) has the same kind of haunting quality. The two discs even hint, to a modest degree, at pop's future, foreshadowing Sheryl Crow ("Matted Spam") and Sloan ("Where Will You Be").

Ham's gentle nature, introspective yet caring for the world outside, was at odds with narcissism of 70s rock; since Badfinger was aspiring to be a part of that system, the touching song about his mother, "Catherine Cares," would have been hard to place. Cautionary affection, as in "Dear Father," "Just How Lucky We Are" and "Hurry On Father" was out, to rock music's collective loss. Not all of the unearthed material shows Ham to be exclusively contemplative. A humorous rocker, "Richard," celebrates his manhood. His playful good riddance to winter, "Goodbye John Frost," revisits the ska of the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" and a rare instrumental, "Pete's Walk," reveals Ham's underrated skill as a guitarist.

Golders Green contains 20 additional demos from 1967 to 1975, bookended by two versions of "Makes Me Feel Good" (the first, from 1968 exemplifies the classic Iveys sound; the second, from 1967, closely resembles the Kinks). The second volume is an even stronger collection than the first. 1969's "Dawn" incorporates brilliant psychedelic layered guitars; "I'll Kiss You Goodnight," reputedly the song that secured the Iveys a publishing deal with Apple, is pure pop songwriting, giving (along with the first volume's "Hand in Hand") the clearest encapsulation of the Iveys' sound outside the Maybe Tomorrow LP.
The frustration he experienced late in his life is evident in "No More" and "Ringside" (on 7 Park Avenue). The lyrics to "I've Waited So Long To Be Free" are, for Ham, unusually blunt: "Passing the buck/But I don't give a fuck/If they ever accept or believe me." It seems astonishing that so many of Pete Ham's songs were otherwise fated to be binned, but 7 Park Avenue and Golders Green have done a great service in preserving Pete Ham's legacy.

Salon Magazine
March 26, 1997
Sean Elder

In the early '70s, radio was suffering from Beatles' withdrawal. After announcing their break-up in 1970, John, Paul, George and Ringo began cranking out solo albums of various quality while rock listeners became instantly nostalgic for the Fab Four. Even straight publications such as Life got in on the act, lauding their collaboration as genius, their days as halcyon.

Badfinger arrived at the time of the Beatles' demise, and though they may not have filled the void, the English foursome did offer a paler version of the Beatles' sound that radio audiences found winsome: Between 1970 and '72, "Come and Get It," "No Matter What" and "Day After Day" haunted the top 10. Their sound-alike ascendancy was not coincidental. As the Iveys, they were one of the first bands signed by the Beatles' Apple Records, and it's small wonder that McCartney picked theirs out of the avalanche of demo tapes the label received. Hearing principal singer-songwriter Pete Ham's McCartney-inspired compositions must have made this a no-brainer for Paul, like George Bush picking Dan Quayle out of a line-up of vice-presidential contenders. He knew this kid, he liked his style.
It was McCartney who wrote the band's first hit, "Come and Get It," which appeared on the soundtrack of "The Magic Christian" (a film starring, as luck would have it, Ringo Starr). Soon the newly christened Badfinger was backing the other former Beatles in their solo efforts and reaping the benefits of pop success. At 7 Park Ave. -- the band's residence/rehearsal space/studio -- Badfinger biographer Dan Matovina reports, "everyone else living in the house would just be waking up and making breakfast, and Pete would pop out of the studio with a new song." This was a familiar rock 'n' roll dream, a scene from a Beatles movie.
Some of the songs Ham composed and recorded in that room are included on "7 Park Avenue," a collection of 18 unreleased solo recordings from the late '60s and early '70s. Some are finished and radio-ready, featuring Ham and a band of non-Badfinger sidemen; others have a workbook quality and feature a double-tracked Ham accompanying himself on vocals and guitar. While some will be familiar to Badfinger fans (a sweetly confident solo version of "No Matter What"; a rave-up variation of "Day After Day" entitled "Matted Spam"), most of the songs collected here rescue Ham from the power-pop bin to which he has been consigned by giving us a glimpse of the singer's more introspective side. "Weep Baby" and "Dear Father" are positively downbeat but filled with pop inflection -- like Nick Drake sitting in with the Hollies -- while in gems like "Hand in Hand," Ham puts on the brave face, beseeching a lover to be strong.

It was strength, apparently, that the singer lacked. Badfinger's financial troubles, part of the legacy of the snake-bit Apple enterprise, were complicated by the band's switch to Warner Bros. in 1974 for a reported $3 million advance. The label immediately accused Badfinger of misappropriating funds and pulled the debut Warner LP from stores. On April 23, 1975, Ham hanged himself at his home in Weybridge, England. He was 27. And while his problems presumably ended there, the band's continued: Surviving members did not see royalties from their Apple days until 1985, after bassist Tom Evans had worked as a pipe fitter and keyboardist Tom Molland installed carpets. Evans tried reviving the outfit before he, too, hanged himself in 1979, setting an odd and unenviable rock 'n' roll precedent.

There are problems with looking for clues to Ham's self-destruction in the sometimes formulaic pop melodies collected on "7 Park Avenue," though it's hard to ignore lines like "I can't face the mirror anymore." The singer may have written his epitaph in "Just Look Inside the Cover." Most of these songs were written at the height of Badfinger's fame, when they were ubiquitous and seemingly anointed. 1971 found them playing house band at George Harrison's Concerts for Bangladesh, backing up such rock royalty as Harrison, Clapton and Dylan. Standing in the shadows onstage at Madison Square Garden, with their fresh faces and shag haircuts, they looked like snapshots of the early Beatles -- kind of like those wax figures on "Sgt. Pepper's" funeral tableau, just a few feet away from the real thing, mournful at the undertaking.

Sympatico
by Mike Barsczewski

7 PARK AVENUE is a collection of solo demos recorded by Badfinger singer-guitarist Pete Ham in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Additional parts were overdubbed by other musicians. Ham died in 1975. Personnel: Pete Ham (vocals, various instruments); Derrick Anderson (bass); Rick Cammon (drums); Bob Jackson, Ron Griffiths. Includes liner notes by Andy Davis. 7 PARK AVENUE, whose title refers to Badfinger's home address upon moving to London when they were still known as the Iveys, is a collection of homemade recordings cut by the band's vocalist Pete Ham between the late 60's and early 70's. Despite claims by detractors who felt Badfinger's success was due only to their association with the Beatles, this collection shows Ham to have been a gifted composer whose knack for writing pop songs went beyond merely aping anyone else. The demos of "Matted Spam" (from their Warner Brothers debut) and the hit "No Matter What" convincingly make that argument. A sensitive songwriter, Ham also wrote hook-laden nuggets about his mum ("Catherine Cares"), an apology to his wife ("Sille Veb," her name spelled backwards) and a song dedicated to his niece using lap guitar and light bongos for a South Seas feel ("Island").

IONE
April 1997
Graham Stephen

Not a reissue, but an unearthing by those wonderful Rykodisc people of demos recorded by the Badfinger man, suicide victim at the age of 27 having been well and truly stitched up by the music biz. Always lived in the Beatles shadow but he was a great writer and singer.

… mentioned last week but now I've finally heard a copy! For those who don't know, Pete was the main writer in Apple band Badfinger. He co-wrote the song "Without You" which won an award recently for most played song on U.S. radio. Badfinger had a few hit singles in the late 60s/early 70s but were well and truly shafted by the music biz in the process. He committed suicide in 1975 totally depressed by the whole situation, sadly his co-writer Tom Evans followed him in 1983. The remaining members of the band and their managers somehow managed to lay claim to the songs, collecting that US award without mentioning the fact they had no hand in writing the song. This album collects some of Pete's fragile demos including two of his last songs and a heartfelt acoustic version of the hit "No Matter What."


Kilmarnock Standard
Ian Russell

Pete Ham was the driving force behind Badfinger, a seventies band tragically ignored until it was too late. Signed to the fab four's Apple label, Badfinger found the pressure, and the expectations, piled up as their initial successful surge waned. a pure pop songwriter, Ham's songs are infectious, personal, and introspective. the Rykodisc album, 7 Park Avenue, posthumously collects 18 emotionally poignant solo recordings from the late 1960s and early 1970s. In the stripped-down form they're available in on the new CD, his songs display an intimacy that was often lost to the production gloss on Badfinger's studio albums.

New York Daily News
May 18, 1997
Jim Farber

Badfinger won fame for releasing some of the catchiest power pop of the 70s ("Day After Day," "No Matter What"). Now Rykodisc adds greatly to our understanding of Badfinger leader Pete Ham by unearthing a collection of demo recordings he made in the early 70s. The music, acoustic material and small-band selections, consisted of solos by Ham (to be brought to the group later to flesh out). it's amazing how complete and unblemished they sound in this raw form. Many songs never even made the final cut for Badfinger's albums, which is amazing considering their melodic sweep.

In this form, they're far more personal than anything the band cut. The recordings combine the melodic sheen of power pop with the heartbreak of confessional singer-songwriters. The personal nature of the recordings gains even more poignancy given what happened to Ham. He hanged himself at age 27 in 1975, which leaves this as his most intimate legacy.

Lancashire Evening Post
May 17, 1997

Ham was the doomed frontman and founding member of Badfinger, signed to Apple in 1968 and responsible for a string of hits until their career floundered six years later. Ham took his own life in 1975 and this album posthumously collects 18 previously unreleased solo recordings from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Emotionally poignant, Ham's vocal and delivery on songs like Hand In Hand are heavily Beatles-influenced but here was a man with rare songwriter's talent.

Good Day Sunshine
August 1997
Matt Hurwitz

… 7 Park Avenue (Rykodisc RCD-10349) was released on March 18 of this year, and offers 18 previously-unheard demo recordings by the band's most chart-worthy tunesmith, Pete Ham… This new Pete Ham album represents a cache of unreleased demo recordings Ham had made in the late 60's and early 70's. The Iveys… The disc offers a clean, unproduced look at Pete Ham's wonderful songwriting ability, as well as his fine singing voice… There are several great tracks on the album, beginning with the disc's opening track, "Catherine Cares," an ode to his mother. One highlight for fans is Pete's original demo for "No Matter What," with just Pete singing, accompanied by his acoustic guitar (in the demo, one might note the absence of a break in the middle of the song for the guitar lead; towards the end of the demo, Ham hums a fade-out, likely where he envisioned the lead guitar section). There is also a demo for "Matted Spam," released by Badfinger on one of its Warner albums, as well as "Coppertone Blues," a simple, bluesy acoustic ballad with a beautiful vocal. Many of these songs are very Iveys-y, with the group's simple pop sound of the day.

There are also some very hot rock tracks, such as "Leaving On A Midnight Train," featuring some hot lead guitar by Pete, and "I Know That You Should," with a sound more in line with Badfinger's developing rock sound. "Just Look Inside The Cover" offers a sound of the day, with hippie-era lyrics, discussing such matters as "You say my hair is long…" And then there are examples of those thoughtful, timeless Pete Ham lyrics, such as, from "Just How Lucky We Are," "When I think of the suffering people, who would give anything to be free, would I still believe God was a kind man, if that suffering person was me?"…

Revolutions
1997

Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, frontman and founding member of Badfinger, Pete Ham is remembered in 7 Park Avenue which posthumously collects 19 previously unreleased, emotionally poignant Ham solo studio recordings from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Amongst the album's material are pre-band recordings of "No Matter What," "Matted Spam," and "Coppertone Blues," long sought after by collectors, Badfinger's affairs were mismanaged throughout its entire career and the strain that this exacted on its members began to increasingly dominate, and ultimately destroyed their relationships with each other. Producer Dan Matovina characterizes the situation, "They were naive young men who were deeply dedicated to their craft. They were eager and willing to trust people, and so devoted that they just followed blindly until they were in too deep to get out." Concurrent with his professional strife, Ham was also despondent due to personal problems. The mounting pressures he was experiencing ultimately led him take his own life - he hanged himself at his home in Weybridge on April 24, 1975. A prolific songwriter, Ham spent a great deal of time throughout his career in the band's residence/rehearsal space/studio (the address of which provides the releases title) writing and demoing new material. he took refuge from the pressures of his life in the studio's padded 8' X10' room. Matovina tells of frequent occurrences where "everyone else living in the house would just be waking up and making breakfast, and Pete would pop out of the studio with a new song." While democratically sharing songwriting responsibilities within the group, Ham accumulated a substantial body of songs which, until now, has never seen commercial release. 7 Park Avenue presents a generous overview of Pete's solo recordings from Badfinger's golden era.

Ink Nineteen
July 1997
Hal Horowitz

I t's almost too cruel to mention that if Pete Ham had any inkling of the influence he'd have as a songwriter to a generation thirty years later, he might have thought twice about hanging himself in April of 1975. Twenty seven years after his tragic suicide Ham is still a force in contemporary pop as evidenced by Mariah Carey's hit version of "Without You.' but it still comes as a revelation to hear Ham's home demos of his songs on the newly released 7 Park Avenue (the title refers to the address of Badfinger's residence in London, which was also the location of a demo studio). Originally recorded and overdubbed on two-track reel-to-reel tapes, these mono songs (a few of which ended up on Badfinger albums in rearranged versions), featuring Pete's guitar and vocals, sound remarkably good. In honesty the liner notes explain that some doctoring was done to these tapes with bass and percussion affixed in 1995 to fill out the sound. But this was no hack job, Ham's voice sounds clean and clear, and all the guitar parts are played by him. Most importantly though, these demos performances which were never intended for public hearing, show Ham's deeply felt emotion and knack for writing a great pop hook while keeping the passion and feelings pure.

MOJO
April 1998
Paul DuNoyer

… 7 Park Avenue is Pete Ham in nearly-unplugged mode, working up numbers at home. these include the prototypes of Badfinger tracks No Matter What and Matted Spam, and the spectral late recording No More and Ringside, but also some beautifully-realised, fundamentally contented works such as Coppertone Blues and Live Love All Of Your Days. To hear Ham in unadorned form is to think of him, not in some powerpop context, but more in terms of his contemporary, Nick Drake, who died six months before him. Their worlds never coincided, but there are some poignant parallels.

Request
December 1997
Mike Lehecka

As Monty Python heralded (in Monty Python and the Holy Grail), "Bring out yer dead!" this year's most fascinating archive set is 7 Park Avenue (Rykodisc), a collection of demos from Badfinger leader Pete Ham, who hanged himself in 1975, but stayed a hummable charmer to the end.


Goldmine
October 10, 1997
Lee Zimmerman

The saga of Badfinger is one of the most contradictory in the annals of rock, a roller coaster ride from the heights of success and adulation to depths of deep despair. Here was a band nurtured by the gods (ie. The Beatles) only to succumb to their own personal demons, leading to the suicides of two of its four members. The life of Pete Ham, one of the band's principal songwriters, mirrored that turbulent tale and his death in 1975 laid open the dark recesses that had plagued the band since the waning days of the Fab Four's Apple label.

Now we have the first "solo" album credited to Ham, a collection of demos and personal recordings recorded for the most part at the band's communal home, the address of which is the album's namesake, shortly before they would change their name from the Iveys to Badfinger. Although some of the tracks would be later embellished by various studio musicians, the essence of the recordings remain rudimentary, raw, and deeply personal, especially in comparison to the sonic sheen that was lavished on Badfinger's George Harrison and Todd Rundgren studio productions. They run the gamut from the innocence of love in bloom to later tracks that reflect Ham's disillusionment with the entire business of making music thanks to downward career spiral he was unable to cope with or control.

Consequently, those expecting a great lost Badfinger album will be sorely disappointed. The infectious hooks and Beatlesque bouyancy, so prominent in the band's early Apple endeavors, are found only occasionally, confined to songs like "It Doesn't Really Matter," "I Know That You Should," and the beautiful ballad "Dear Father." Two tracks that would later surface with the group, "No Matter What" and "Matted Spam," are radically different in these early incarnations. Hearing Ham so plagued with doubts and disappointment, as manifested in such songs as "Catherine Cares," an apology to his mother for his neglect as a son, the forlorn "No More" ("Drunken days, drunken nights/Someone please turn out the light") and "Ringside," a bitter barb directed at the music industry ("… I can't bear to feel the sorrow/or the evil that you've shown…"), you feel like you're reading a suicide note in the making. The most hopeful song of the set - and coincidentally, one of the best - is "Just How Lucky We Are" comes so late in the chronology that even its hint of optimism seems to come as too little too late to halt the inevitable.

Listening to this album now, and knowing of its authors inevitable fate, can't help but taint the enjoyment of listening to these tracks anew. As in the discovery of any archival piece, there is a certain fascination that comes from eavesdropping on these personal passages. But no matter how interesting and revealing one finds it, in the end it's that sense of dread and doom which leaves the most enduring impression. For many, 7 Park Avenue won't be a place that they'll return to very often.

Anodyne
March 1998
Stuart Bath

… During the course of his exhaustive research, interviewing and winning the trust of key people involved, (Dan) Matovina also assembled some excellent Pete Ham home demos that were released on Rykodisc last year as 7 Park Avenue, a collection that reveals the late Ham as a very talented and heartfelt singer, songwriter and arranger, and certainly the most vital and creative member of Badfinger. Matovina explains that Ham was a kind and loyal person who always tried to see the best in everyone. Unfortunately, his dealings with (Stan) Polley left him broken, his shining faith in his fellow man evaporated. His suicide note said, "I will not be allowed to love and trust everybody." Ham chose death over cynicism. The most fundamental aspect of his character was corroded by his association with greedy, amoral people, a sentiment which is also reflected in his song, "Ringside,: off of 7 Park Avenue; ("Take your seat by the ringside/Watch them bidding for your blood…/I can't bear to feel the sorrow/Of the evil that you've shown)


Sound
Scott Cooper

As a member of Badfinger, Pete Ham penned a handful of timeless hits, such as "Day After Day," "Baby Blue," and the ballad "Without You." But, as this disc proves, Ham's melodic songwriting went much deeper than a few mere hits - and even deeper than the six Badfinger records.

This collection of previously-unreleased home studio recordings (with sparse overdubs by former bandmates) includes numerous songs about his relatives: father, mother, girlfriends, and niece. Some of the songs gleam with hope, while others reflect a frightening despair, Ham committed suicide in 1975. The common thread is Ham's Beatle-esque melodicism. "Island" reflects the mood of The Beatles "I Will," whereas "Leaving On A Midnight Train" shows a direct influence of George Harrison.

Only one of these tunes, "Would You Deny," could have been a classic. Though he only sings one verse, and hums the second, the beautifully rich melody is simply infectious. None of these songs beat Ham's radio singles, but they definitely provide pleasurable listening, particularly to those already hip to Badfinger.