Golders Green
released July 13, 1999

Pete Ham
capsule CD Reviews

Entertainment Today
This disc is an excellent companion to the 1997 Rykodisc release of Pete Ham demos, 7 Park Avenue… it proves that Ham had even more gems leftover which were ripe for the picking… Kudos must go to Badfinger archivist Dan Matovina for all the painstaking research and production work he did in resurrecting these tunes. One listen to Golders Green will make you exclaim "Man, I wish this could be done for all of my favorite artists!"

Yeah Yeah Yeah
… another magnificent lo-fi pop masterpiece… Expertly produced by Dan Matovina (producer of 7 Park Avenue and author of the acclaimed and absolutely essential Badfinger bio, Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger)… these homemade recordings radiate an effortless pop mellifluousness only matched by Badfinger's onetime booster Paul McCartney. Amazing that, as despondent as Ham became over his professional and personal life, his musical sketches and beautiful, expressive tenor elicit nothing but joy and pleasure.

Mojo
… melodic songs to melt the heart or make the spirits soar. The most significant, historically, is Without You, though it's actually the verse parts only ("Well I can't forget this evening . . ."), still awaiting the chorus that would be added by Ham's Badfinger partner Tom Evans… this awkward, gifted songwriter has a presence that will announce itself eventually.

Green Man
… In this day and age, not even death can stop the truly talented, or very determined… These songs represent the length and breadth of [Pete] Ham's talent and abilities. Whether it's "power pop" ballads reminiscent of the Beatles, slower tunes more evocative of Simon and Garfunkel, or songs that are uniquely his, Ham manages to deliver a fascinating range of music. This album is nothing less than a trip down memory lane, visiting to era when music was magical and you made it or not on the power of performance, rather than the validity of music videos… All in all, this is a great album.

The Big Takeover
The second volume of Ham's North-London home-studio demos is even better than its predecessor, 1997's 7 Park Avenue… they're an entirely different experience than his group's definitive early-70's Beatle-esque LP's… Best of all, it reposits a power-pop god as one of the great semi-undiscovered singer/songwriter talents of the fallow early 1970s.

Discoveries
Whatever the style blues, folk, gospel, power-pop, or flat-out rock Pete Ham did it all, and more inventively than many of his more highly-touted contemporaries.

Record Collector
… (Matovina) has allowed sympathetic musicians to flesh out the often low-fi sound of Ham's original tapes, without ever perverting their spirit or burying his voice and guitar… another sparkling collection of power-pop and poignant balladry

San Diego Union
… after a listening session for these two CD's 7 Park Avenue & Golders Green, my initial thought was "How long can they keep unearthing great music like this?" Well, to be sure, I don't know - but I hope they never stop.

Entertainment Weekly
… It should come as no surprise to Badfinger fans that Golders Green (Ryko's second volume of such material) is packed with unfinished melodic nuggets, even if several tracks are somewhat oddly augmented by contemporary musicians. Grade B+

Uncut
… captivating, sometimes beautiful stuff that even at this distance from his tragedy is heavy with doomed-soul poignancy.

The File
… We are blessed with the demo version of "Without You.' Despite its unfinished state, this is a fascinating piece of pop history. We get to hear the alternate chorus, "If its love that you need . . . " which has a slightly more positive feel to it than Tom's replacement… Pete is a forgotten hero in my book and then of course, there's the voice. Think about the great solo albums we've been denied. Although this collection of songs is new to most of us, after just a few plays, you feel as though you've known them for years. Perhaps this is an indication that these songs would if they had been released by Badfinger have been considered classics like "No Matter What," "Day After Day," and "Baby Blue." In conclusion, we can say there is only one conclusion: Pete Ham. Pop Genius.

Riverfront Times
… Golders Green casts (Ham) as a kind of pop Nick Drake a pensive troubadour with a guitar-full of troubles. A joyful exception to the sad rule is "Makes Me Feel Good," a catchy and complete pop song that could have been groomed into a Badfinger classic (and you get it in two versions)… Dan Matovina is not only a brilliant engineer but a purist himself. He repaired these tapes with surgical precision. He also wrote a careful, thorough book on Badfinger (whose initial hardback run contained a CD with even more of this stuff.) The integrity of the late bloomer's archives are in Matovina's hands - hands that, fortunately, know which studio dials to rotate. If you're a Badfinger fan, you'll like Golders Green for its embryonic resemblance. If you're not, you'll still be moved by these tuneful, quixotic sketches.

Gadfly
… The business side of the music industry may have swallowed a fine musician, but the songs didn't die. Ham was a songmeister, and he is now getting his just due. too bad he's not here to enjoy it.

DISCOL
The late great Pete Ham of Badfinger must be one of the most tragic figures of the post-Beatles era (where's the movie?). Badfinger remains one of this reviewers all-time favorite bands with Pete Ham penning the best songs and possessing the most perfect pop vocal for those songs this side of Paul McCartney.

Tiny Tunes
… Ham (who committed suicide in 1975) was arguably Badfinger's best songwriter and easily their finest singer, the band's strongly-held democracy meant that he wrote considerably more songs than the band could ever use. This is a shame, since guitar-pop gems like "Dawn" and the unbelievably catchy "Makes Me Feel Good" (here in two versions) would have enlivened any of Badfinger's albums… this album is simply fantastic.

E-Opinions
When Pete Ham committed suicide in 1975, the music world lost one of its great composers of the pop/rock song… There was a time when I wondered if Pete Ham would merely slip through the cracks of time and be forgotten, but with the releases of his demo material of late, and the ever-increasing acknowledgment by newer power-pop bands over the years, it looks like Pete Ham will be (and perhaps already is) justifiably recognized as one of the forefathers of power-pop/rock, and his legacy and legend grow continually.

On Disc
… It's not only not a letdown from the first release, it's actually an improvement thanks to a more stylistically varied collection of songs, again assembled by Badfinger biographer Dan Matovina… When you hear the wealth of material Pete Ham left in the demo studio, you marvel at what a team player he was to hold back some great songs in favor of sometimes-lesser material by his bandmates on Badfinger's albums. And you curse the music industry SOB's and inner demos that led Ham to take his own life and deny us many more years of wonderful music.

City Paper
… it's better Brit-pop than the junk played by today's Brit-pop bands.

Minnesota Daily
… a collection of little gems the demo of "Without You" has a sweetness not found on the later classic rock-styled versions, and shows how Evans' contribution (the music and lyrics of the chorus) was an essential element in the song's completion

All Music Guide
The second collection of previously unreleased home demos by Ham is almost as worthwhile and satisfying to the ear as its predecessor, 7 Park Avenue… On the whole, the effect of this CD, as was the case with 7 Park Avenue, is to make one wish that Badfinger had recorded more of Ham's material, and made less room for the songwriting efforts of the lesser composers in the band.

The Guardian
Pete Ham, like Joplin, Hendrix, and Morrison, died at 27; the proverbial rock-star age when the ego outgrows the star and the star begins to believe he or she can walk on water while snorting cocaine from a hell's angel's belly button and being fellated by ravenous groupies. but Ham's demise wasn't glamorous or hedonistic, it's anomalous among 70s rock-star deaths in that it reminds us of real struggles, sensitive, conscientious people and genuine injustices… Badfinger's only crime were being perennially out of fashion and honest, trustful human beings in a sea of self-interested sharks… It's with this in mind that Green and its despairing songs are so poignant (not to mention those of its more coherent predecessor, 7 Park Avenue). The anguish mounts through the cold nights of Where Will You Be and the trapped days of I'm So Lonely… It's a spectral, sketchy album with something for lovers of McCartney, Emitt Rhodes, Guided By Voices and Alex Chilton, and a cautionary tale which should be heard by all just-signed musicians who make the mistake of confusing Mr. Big Multinational cigar with dad.

Bucketful Of Brains
Golders Green is the second collection of previously unheard demo recordings to be released by Ryko. It's a more cohesive album than its predecessor, 7 Park Avenue, and the sound quality is pretty excellent throughout. This could have much to do with the fact that a number of empathetic musicians including Chris von Sneidern, Jonathan Lea, and Derrick Anderson provided overdubs to add a rhythm track or more full range of sound to enhance the listening experience, and they, along with producer Dan Matovina, do a bloody good job. This really could be the solo album that Ham never got to releasing.

Virgin Net
Pete Ham was the singer, guitarist and main songwriter in Seventies rock legends Badfinger. He co-wrote the might musical masterpiece Without You, which made and sold millions when covered by Nilsson. Sadly, none of this did Peter Ham any good during his lifetime and, frustrated by the legal and financial wrangling surrounding his band, he committed suicide at age 27. Green is the second posthumously put together collection of his unreleased demos of the hits that never were. The instant highlight is his heartbroken and haunted rendition of Without You, which puts Harry Nilsson's histrionics to shame. However, Ham was considerably more than a one-song wonder and the classic happy pop of songs like Makes Me Feel Good, Goodbye John Frost, and Keyhole Street sound, in their rough and ready demo renditions, as fresh to the ear as when they were recorded as well as being a collection of classic pop songs… An essential purchase on any count.

Full-Length reviews

Green Man Review
Michael M. Jones

My first thought upon hearing the first track on this CD was "My goodness, the Beatles are alive and well, and living in my CD player."

Once I got past that bit of early morning whimsy, I realized that this was nothing like the Beatles. Well, mostly. Sort of a cross between the feel-good innocent days of the Fab Four and the more wistful days of Simon and Garfunkel.

It sounds like an odd combination, but I assure you, it's all true. Would I lie to you? (Crossed fingers behind back, along with Richard Nixon mask.)

Let me back up a little. What we have here is the latest album by Pete Ham, best known for his work with the bands The Iveys and Badfinger. This is a remarkable accomplishment, largely because Pete Ham has been dead for a good twenty years. In this day and age, not even death can stop the truly talented, or very determined. Just ask L. Ron Hubbard.

On a serious note, Golders Green is a collection of demos and other songs recorded between 1965 and 1975, all written or co-written by Ham during his career as a musician and songwriter. Twenty tracks in all, rescued from the vaults in which they'd been stored all these many years. Some have been updated for the new era, but most are presented in their original form, like a time capsule.

These songs represent the length and breadth of Ham's talent and abilities. Whether it's "power pop" ballads reminiscent of the Beatles, slower tunes more evocative of Simon and Garfunkel, or songs that are uniquely his, Ham manages to deliver a fascinating range of music. This album is nothing less than a trip down memory lane, visiting to  era when music was magical and you made it or not on the power of performance, rather than the validity of music videos.

To give you an idea of just how varied the songs really are, the liner offers comparisons to the Beatles ("Ob-La-Di," "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," "Can You Take Me Back?"), solo McCartney, Stevie Wonder (from his Talking Book period), the Kinks, and Emmit Rhodes. His influences include jazz, rock, country and western, and rhythm and blues, along with classical. And it shows.

The liner notes speak excellently for the music, offering up descriptions of the song, comparisons to other related music, and the details regarding the origin of each song. In fact, half of the value of this CD should be for the liner notes, as a reference and a quick dip into the pool, so to speak. My words just can't do justice to the songs contained within. All I can do is point out the songs that particularly catch my attention.

The opening song, "Makes Me Feel Good," is an attention-catching, toe-tapping pop song in pure Beatles form and the perfect opener to the mix. "Whiskey Man" contains some soulful lyrics and masterful harmonica riffs, as well as a quiet warning against the power of hard drink and sorrow. "Richard" is an adventurous, happy-go-lucky guitar-powered ode to ... er ... a man's best friend. And I'm not talking about women or dogs. Trust me on this one. It's lively, catchy, and unrepentantly bawdy in a sophisticated subtlety that seems to be a lost art form these days. "Midnight Caller" evokes the Beatles once again, but this time to deliver a quietly moving homage to former Badfinger friend and booking agent turned call girl, Sue Wing. It's a touching, sentimental tune, full of emotion and wistfulness.

All in all, this is a great album. The majority of the songs are "feel good" tunes, and very few of them ring out of tune. It's not the best CD you'll ever run across, but it's certainly able to stand tall under its own merits. Pete Ham truly was a talented musician, and this is as competent and comprehensive a representation of his abilities as any.

Music from that era isn't really my usual interest. I prefer my rock a bit louder and a lot more energetic. However, I can definitely say that Golder's Green is an album worth having, if you want something to fill a slot and represent the time period in your collection. Of course, your mileage may vary. If the Beatles give you a headache, this probably would also. And just be warned that the liner notes, while very well-written and explanatory, are also shamelessly pro-Ham, and heavily biased in his favor. If you want impartial opinions regarding Pete Ham, this isn't the place to start.

That said, I'll finish by saying that I enjoyed this album. Now if I can only get the lyrics to "Richard" out of my head...

 
Record Collector
September 1999
Peter Doggett

Badfinger biographer Dan Matovina has launched a one-man crusade in recent years to win his heroes a more prestigious place in history. Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger (Frances Glover Books) established their right to a Hollywood biopic, with its relentless accounts of disappointment, betrayal, and, ultimately, despair, only occasionally lightened by a moment of commercial success. Matovina then masterminded one of the best reissue packages of recent times, "7 Park Avenue," a collection of home demos and work-in-progress by Badfinger's chief songwriter, Pete Ham. " Golders Green" is more of the same stuff spanning the years 1966-75, without any suggestion that Matovina is scraping the barrel.

As before, he has allowed sympathetic musicians to flesh out the often low-fi sound of Ham's original tapes, without ever perverting their spirit or burying his voice and guitar. So subtle are these overdubs, in fact, that they never become an issue on "Golders Green," another sparkling collection of power-pop and poignant balladry. Two versions of "Makes Me Feel Good," top and tail the album, proving his faultless pop credentials, while other songs provoke the inevitable Beatles' comparisons - "Where Will You Be" for the "Because-style harmonies, "Goodbye John Frost" for its "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"- flavoured rhythm. Elsewhere, there are suggestions that Ham had been listening to Emitt Rhodes (the fuzz guitar on the instrumental "Pete's Walk") or the "Smile"- era Beach Boys (the fragment "Gonna Do It"). But it would be unfair to downplay Ham's own pop genius, expo sed here on a tentative early demo of "Without You," the fully-fledged structure of "A Lonely Day," and much more besides.
 
 

The Big Takeover
Issue #45
Jack Rabid

The second volume of Ham's North-London home-studio demos is even better than its predecessor, 1997's 7 Park Avenue. Only ardent fans knew that the late Badfinger leader left behind such a wealth of otherwise unrecorded material before his sad suicide in 1975, but even these folks must be surprised and tickled. 38 tracks have now appeared on these two CD's, with a minority of recognizable titles from Badfinger's seven LP's (one as The Iveys). Not only are these solid compositions, but like 7 Park Avenue, only even more so, they're an entirely different experience than his group's definitive early-70's Beatle-esque LP's (the best: the classic Straight Up, partly produced by George Harrison). There is a hushed, highly personal quality of many of Ham's sketches, an unadorned directness that would be spooky on the more disconsolate tracks even if the singer had survived, and a boon to the divergent upbeat tracks such as "Makes Me Feel Good" and "Keyhole Street." It's proof there was an endless tune spring here, unexpected even for a writer with credits on four top 15 hits, Badfinger's "Day After Day," "No Matter What," and "Baby Blue," and a 1972 #1 hit for Harry Nilsson, the slow power-ballad "Without You."

On the surface, the draw is again the sprinkling of familiar material that appears in its earliest, most developmental forms. 7 Park Avenue served up the likes of "No Matter What" and "Matted Spam," and this time the hook is a riveting, ominous, organ-and-vocal version of "Without You" with a different less bombastic chorus" "If it's love that you need . . ." is substituted for "Can't Live, is living is without you." The near-perfect verse melodies are no longer ruined by an over-theatrical chorus, and Ham's loneliness and ache for his departed lover is chilling. Likewise the piano-and-vocal demo of "Midnight Caller" is even lovelier than the more fleshed out No Dice version. But it's the LP as a whole that's such a pleasure, from the fine, full-band pseudo-ska bounce of "Goodbye John Frost" (here's a place where Ham betters his Apple records' mentors The Beatles, whose entry in the genre was the so-so "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da") to the pop-delicious opener, "Makes Me Feel Good." In fact, once again, Golders Green is actually a much stronger work than most of Ham's original LP's!

Best of all, it reposits a power-pop god as one of the great semi-undiscovered singer/songwriter talents of the fallow early 1970s.
 

Discoveries
August 1999
Ralph Heibutzki

For many fans, Badfinger's name is synonymous with the short-circuited promise of singer/guitarist Pete Ham's (April 1975) and bassist Tom Evans (November 1983) tragic suicides - after being systematically starved of their earnings leaving their rich power-pop legacy almost whitewashed out of rock history.

Even now, when mainstream writers discuss Badfinger, it's often in connection with their fabled patrons, The Beatles, who lifted them out of obscurity onto their Apple label in 1968. As guitarist Joey Molland once wryly observed, even today, many people think "Day After Day," one of Badfinger's major U.S. hits, is a Beatle record.

Producer Dan Matovina has worked to change both perceptions in his biography, Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger (1997), and Rykodisc's well-received Pete Ham demo collection, 7 Park Avenue (1997). Now comes Golders Green, named after the north London neighborhood where Badfinger lived and worked.

As with 7 Park Avenue, Matovina worked from tapes provided by Ham's brother, John. "If I thought it [a song] could benefit from a rhythm section boost, or a layered pad on a organ, I proceeded to do that, but I always kept Pete's original demo [including his guitars and vocals] in the forefront," said Matovina.

Golders Green is revealing in other ways. Where most rockers prided themselves on being distanced from their parents, the solo acoustic "Hurry On Father" tenderly asks to "bring home the food you know will feed me." It's equally hard to imagine Badfinger tackling such blues nuggets as "Whiskey Man" (you're clever but you're not together) and "I'm So Lonely," let alone "Dawn," a glistening ballad that floats atop jazzy major-seventh chords.

Ham's grip on his craft is never clearer in using a wistful, Kinks-ish melody to offset radically different moods on the sunny "Keyhole Street" (1967), and "A Lonely Day," whose upbeat hook cannot disguise its ache ("I would give anything to be with you tonight"). The same tendency marks one of Ham's last songs, "Helping Hand" (1975), which finds him seeking support amid his business' shark-infested waters ("Wish you'd feel inside my mind/and join in with the things that you'll find").

Ham's self-doubts pockmarked Badfinger's later years, when ? unsure how such a quintessentially democratic group of songwriters might accept his latest ideas he would demo mere snippets of them, such as the 39 seconds of "Shine On" presented here.

"When The Feeling" offers another tantalizing, 55-second snapshot, starting with Ham asking for a cigarette, after which he whacks out a spiffy drum riff, leaving listeners to ponder what night have been its ultimate melodic destination.

Yet casting Ham as a tragic clown sells him short, as proven by "Richard," a 1972 rockabilly-inflected ode to a man's private parts (!), and "Goodbye John Frost," a slice of piano-driven whimsy eerily similar to The Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da." Fans of Ham's power-pop won't feel let down by the 90-second, fuzz-powered instrumental "Pete's Walk," or the two tales of the shimmering "Makes Me Feel Good" that buttress this disc ("Makes me feel good to know that you are here/I feel real good just knowing that you're near")

"Makes Me Feel Good" is a perfect example of Ham's precise, often ruthless self-editing. The earlier take, cut in 1967, makes its case with a breezier tempo and additional verse missing from its second counterpart, recorded only a year later. Yet both takes are still enjoyable on their own merits, a tribute to Ham's deft creativity as a songwriter.

Now that fans have acquainted themselves with the fruits of Ham's unfinished business, Matovina foresees a third demo collection. "There's also enough for an early [Ham] collection, '66-''68." he said. "that's borderline, because it's all really of the era, like "I'll Kiss You Goodnight .'

Matovina is also keen on doing a Tom Evans demo disc, "but not with overdubs," he said. "His demos tend to be well-developed, with instruments, or very scratchy, with a mike, and his guitar.'

While some Evans demos have popped up notably on a now-deleted U.K. CD (Over You: The Final Tracks, 1993) with collaborator Rod Roach, and a special commemorative CD issued with Matovina's book the bulk of them are still unheard. "People would really be surprised at how well his writing holds up," said Matovina. "He really matured as a writer when Pete died,'

Sadly, Badfinger's rarities remain mired in intra-band politics and legalities. the most recent casualty is Head First, which Warner Brothers rejected in early 1975, having sued the band and its nefarious business manager, Stan Polley, over monies missing from an escrow account.

Since Badfinger's last album, Wish You Were here (1974), had been recalled after seven weeks because of the suit, Warner Brothers was ill-disposed to consider another one. The Head First mystery deepened when its original master tapes vanished, yet four tracks ("Keep Believing," "Lay Me Down," "Moonshine," "Passed Fast,") surfaced on Rhino's Best Of Badfinger Volume 2 CD (1990).

Matovina had remastered Head First from rough mixes, with eleven bonus tracks only to see the label committed to its release collapse, taking Mike Gibbins' second solo album, too. "They never paid the mastering bill, but they never admitted to it. they would say things like, 'Oh, we sent that check, we'll wire it tomorrow, we'll call you back," he said.

As if he weren't disillusioned enough, Gibbins who has recently played a gig as Madfinger has sworn off the whole project, said Matovina. "If he doesn't care [about reissuing Head First] anymore, it's going to be a roadblock."

On another front, the Airwaves reissue contains just one outtake, four songs by guitarist Joe Tansin (who quit after recording the album), and a Molland/Tansin collaboration. "It would have been a perfect situation for those [demos] to be on that CD," said Matovina.

He also believes Badfinger's back catalogue could stand reorganization, starting with a Head First reissue, and a U.S. Wish You Were Here, which is still only available as a pricey German/Japanese-only import CD.

"It is weird, because these [other] things have come out, but all their important stuff has never been released properly," said Matovina. "You don't have a proper Best-Of, the early albums have mediocre mastering. There's a lot that could be readdressed."

Whatever the style blues, folk, gospel, power-pop, or flat-out rock Pete Ham did it all, and more inventively than many of his more highly-touted contemporaries. Stay tuned; as Golders Green proves, the final word is not in yet.
 

Entertainment Today
August 13 - August 19, 1999
David Bash

This disc is an excellent companion to the 1997 Rykodisc release of Pete Ham demos, 7 Park Avenue. Like its predecessor, Golders Green is a collection of tunes which Ham, leader of the great band Badfinger, recorded over the years in his home studio (at 7 Park Avenue in the Golders Green section of London, hence the title), and it proves that Ham had even more gems leftover which were ripe for the picking.

Though the lengths of many of these tracks show them to be works in progress, the tunes are so good and revelatory that they can stand proudly among Ham's best. And although some of the elemental gaps have been filled in by present day musicians, the essential integrity of these recordings remains intact. Standout tracks include the opener "Makes Me Feel Good," a crunchy slab of power pop; "Goodbye John Frost," which has a jumpy, "Ob La Di, Ob La Da"-like vibe; the pretty, early-Beatlesque ballad "I'll Kiss You Goodnight"; "Richard," which is a cheery ode to Ham's "manhood", and "Whiskey Man," proving that Ham had a strong understanding of the blues.

Perhaps the most striking track here is "Dawn," a soulful, haunting piece which has a striking ambiance. There are also cool early versions of Badfinger tunes like "Midnight Caller," which, though less produced than the release version, is nevertheless just as powerful, and "Without You," which contains a totally different chorus from the release version (the chorus of the released version was written by Ham's songwriting partner Tommy Evans).

Kudos must go to Badfinger archivist Dan Matovina for all the painstaking research and production work he did in resurrecting these tunes. One listen to Golders Green will make you exclaim "Man, I wish this could be done for all of my favorite artists!"
 

San Diego Union
September 1999
Bart Mendoza

Golders Green is the second collection of posthumously completed demos, taped by the late Pete Ham, that have been released by Rykodisc. Due to a long term relationship with Apple records and his occasional stints as Beatle sideman, (let's see- for trivia buffs, Pete Ham's first hit with Badfinger - "Come And Get It" - was written and produced for them by Paul McCartney. He played in the backing band at Concert For Bangla Desh and played on George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" albums.). Pete Ham's gift for songwriting often gets overlooked. His hits, such as "No Matter What" and "Day After Day" were just the tip of the iceberg. Only 27 at the time of his unfortunate passing, he left behind a treasure trove of demos. The producers of "Golders Green" are purposefully vague as to exactly what work has been done to the tracks. However, a quick glance at the list of musicians on the album shows involvement from many of the current Los angles pop scenes luminaries, including guitarist Jonathan Lea (of the Jigsaw seen), bassist Derrick Anderson (of the Andersons) as well as the multi-talented Chris von Sneidern.

The key is the material of course, and here we have 20 cuts, some as short as 39 seconds, recorded between 1966 and 1975. Surprisingly, the songs make a cohesive album with the first 6 tracks as strong an opening of tunes as one is likely to hear. More than likely the demos were simple guitar with voice concoctions (though "When The Feeling" is just voice and drums), which makes the completed overdubbed versions that much more of an accomplishment. Most amazingly of all, although you may guess at the overdubs, the mix and most importantly the ambiance of the tracks is uniform, resulting in a song that doesn't sound fiddles with. the spirit and intent of the music comes through. In particular, the track "Dawn" with it's muscular bass line and incredibly catchy jangly hooks perplexes me - I know there are edits in there, but the song sounds so great, I can't tell where.

High point of the album is a simple electric piano demo for Pete Ham's best known song, "Without You", here with a different middle section. but it's a hard choice - from the bluesy strolling fuzz guitar of "Pete's Walk" (drenched in Hammond B3!) to the Kinks-ish overtones of the acoustic "Hurry On Father", there is much to recommend on this disc. Funny enough, after a listening session for these two CD's, my initial thought was "How long can they keep unearthing great music like this?" Well, to be sure, I don't know - but I hope they never stop.
 

Entertainment Weekly
July 30, 1999
Rob Brunner

These days there's so much amateurishly recorded, achingly pretty pop music around that Golders Green sounds entirely contemporary. It's not: Ham - the frontman for power-pop favorites Badfinger - killed himself in 1975. Fortunately, he left behind a cache of demos and song fragments, and it should come as no surprise to Badfinger fans that Golders Green (Ryko's second volume of such material) is packed with unfinished melodic nuggets, even if several tracks are somewhat oddly augmented by contemporary musicians. Grade B+
 

Yeah Yeah Yeah
Issue #15
Steve Granados

With the follow-up to his 1997 debut 7 Park Avenue, Welsh singer-songwriter Pete Ham has crafted yet another magnificent lo-fi pop masterpiece. Recorded in his London home studio, Golders Green should give Guided By Voices, Richard Davies and other similar artists plenty to think about.

From "Goodbye John Frost" a quirky pop-rocker that features clunky piano playing and a drum sound that's pure McCartney circa 1970 to the joyful, harmonica wailing rocker "Richard" and the rousing album closer "Makes Me Feel Good" an upbeat pop song that evokes The Monkees in their pure pop prime, Ham's gift for melody and warm, engaging voice make almost every song a work of wonder.

That is how a review of Golders Green would read in a kinder, gentler world. But the world and the music industry in particular can be a harsh, unforgiving place, and it has been almost 25 years since Pete Ham took his own life after being chewed up and spit out by the music industry and an uncaring manager who could only be described as evil. Yet despite the years that have passed since Ham's death, his good-natured pop music continues to touch anyone who hears it and it seems that he has finally earned the acclaim and respect that he was denied during his tragically short life. This second collection of home demos that Ham recorded between 1968 and 1975 picks up where 7 Park Avenue left off. Expertly produced by Dan Matovina (producer of 7 Park Avenue and author of the acclaimed and absolutely essential Badfinger bio, Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger), Golders Green is packed with superb sounding home demos that have been tastefully augmented by former Badfinger member Bob Jackson and American power pop artist Chris von Sneidern.

Though Golders Green features plenty of sublime pop moments like "Dawn," a moody, intricately arranged track that sounds like a long-lost late 60's Mike Nesmith song and "I'll Kiss You Goodnight," a gorgeous pop ballad from 1968, it also gives you the chance to hear the playful, more experimental side of Ham's music. "When The Feeling" features Ham working out on the drums and laying down a scat vocal (a la The Beatles "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?") while "Gonna Do It" is a tantalizing fragment of an eerie multi-track vocal experiment. Golders Green also features a wonderful early version of the Badfinger-penned pop standard "Without You" (written by Ham and Badfinger bassist Tom Evans) that Ham performs on electric organ and a solo demo of Badfinger's "Midnight Caller."
 

Calgary Sun
August 1, 1999
by Dave Veitch

If you want a good cry, don't go see a Hollywood tearjerker - just read about the cursed career of Badfinger that weathered, among other tragedies, the suicide of the band's choirboy-voiced singer Pete Ham in 1975. His loss seems even more grievous listening to Golders Green, a second volume of out-takes and demos he left behind. The sound quality, as you'd expect, is decidedly lo-fi (even on the tracks that have been posthumously overdubbed), yet these homemade recordings still radiate an effortless pop mellifluousness only matched by Badfinger's onetime booster Paul McCartney. Amazing that, as despondent as Ham became over his professional and personal life, his musical sketches and beautiful, expressive tenor elicit nothing but joy and pleasure.
 

Philadelphia City Paper
July 2, 1999 - July 8, 1999
unknown reviewer

This collection of rollicking, folky mod ditties was culled from demos made by Badfinger member Pete Ham in his basement studio during the late 60s. The old recordings were recently spruced up and filled out by former Badfinger member Bob Jackson and Chris von Sneidern. Less produced and more soulful than many of Badfinger's glitzy tracks, it's better Brit-pop than the junk played by today's Brit-pop bands.
 

Mojo
December 1999
Paul DuNoyer

Nowadays, when Welshness is increasingly prestigious, spare a thought for Swansea's Pete Ham. Though he hanged himself in 1975, at the age of 27, he made enough music in his lifetime to rank with the good and great. The tragedy is that he never reached a safe financial harbour: an easy-going, generous man, Ham lacked the kind of mentor that a fragile talent requires. Though his band Badfinger were famously signed to Apple, the squabbling Fabs were too distracted to nurture their protégés. Nowadays, however, Ham's raw brilliance is getting better known. This second volume of his home recordings. mostly from the group's base in Golders Green, has melodic songs to melt the heart or make the spirits soar. The most significant, historically, is Without You, though it's actually the verse parts only ("Well I can't forget this evening . . ."), still awaiting the chorus that would be added by Ham's Badfinger partner Tom Evans. Show Pete Ham a bushel and he would diligently hide his light beneath it. But this awkward, gifted songwriter has a presence that will announce itself eventually.
 

Badfinger File fanzine
Issue #17
Neil Smithies

I must admit when I first heard that a second collection of Pete's demos was to be released, my first reaction was that this CD may be scraping the bottom of the barrel somewhat. How wrong can you be?

The album opens and closes with two versions of the stunning Makes Me Feel Good. It's a fantastic slice of 60s pop. To my ears, this song would have been the perfect debut single for The Iveys, or perhaps even the follow up to bridge the gap between "Maybe Tomorrow" and "Come And Get It". You can just imagine this track being played over the opening sequence of a 60s British sit-com.

As we all know, Pete was a master of creating classic pop singles and this album is littered with potential hit singles. For example, we have "Keyhole Street" another Iveys-esque chunk of Britpop. With its catchy background harmonies, it would surely have dented the UK charts.

However, for me, the winner of the I Can't Believe It Wasn't A Single category must be "Helping Hand." It's a beautifully crafted song which has you hooked from the first couple of seconds of its glorious intro. I envisaged this being the ideal release between Badfinger and Wish You Were Here.

Helping Hand is one of the tracks that has benefited from the modern day overdubs. Indeed, praise has to be given for the unobtrusive nature of these overdubs. they are discreet and fit the feel of the songs very well, (especially Bob Jackson's keyboards).

Goodbye John Frost driven by it's infectious piano riff, should surely have been a strong contender for release by The Iveys/Badfinger. Indeed, what struck me about this collection was that so many of these lost gems are in my opinion far stronger tracks than many of those included on Maybe Tomorrow and Badfinger's first album. Mind you, with regards to "Richard" and the nature of its inspiration and lyrical content, it is not surprising that it is only now seeing the light of day! in my naiveté, I thought this was a song along the lines of Dennis (from Wish You Were Here) a loving tribute to a child, how wrong I was! This track is of interest in that it contains the guitar riff which was re-hashed in Lay Me Down. Francis Rossi must have taught Pete a riff or two during the swap meet, when the Quo man acquired his Fender Telecaster from our hero. Admittedly, the songs mentioned above are catchy upbeat tunes and perhaps Apple wanted to steer the band in a harder, more progressive/psychedelic direction.

Certainly, "I'll Kiss You Goodnight" would have fitted onto the group's first album, the mood it generates is not dissimilar to Tom's "Angelique."

From around the same era (1969) is "Dawn." This song kicks off with an intriguing guitar riff and then glides along in cool style, before that funky riff interjects again at its close. "Dawn" evokes that beautiful late 60s summery feel echoed on "Coppertone Blues" (from 7 Park Avenue - the first collection of demos).

The theme of passing time and a yearning for a true love are also present on "A Lonely Day" which again has a fine tune to push it along.

Golders Green also provides glimpses of Pete's melancholic/darker side. We are blessed with the demo version of "Without You.' Despite its unfinished state, this is a fascinating piece of pop history. we get to hear the alternate chorus, "If its love that you need . . . " which has a slightly more positive feel to it than Tom's replacement.

On many of the tracks on the album, you can hear and feel Pete's anger, frustration and fear. there is an air of despair and a tangible sense of looming tragedy. "Whiskey Man," "I've Waited So Long To Be Free," "Helping Hand," "Where Will You Be?," and "I'm So Lonely" can all be seen as cries for help.

Listening to this album, one feels a degree of sadness, anger and frustration about the tragedy that ensued. Pete Ham had so much talent and this album bears testimony to that. The songwriting skill from the classics (a killer version of "Midnight Caller" that betters the released version,) to the oddities, like "When The Feeling" and the accapella "Gonna Do It." We also have the multi-instrumentalist (the marvelous lead guitar work on "I'm So Lonely.) Pete is a forgotten hero in my book and then of course, there's the voice. Think about the great solo albums we've been denied.

Although this collection of songs is new to most of us, after just a few plays, you feel as though you've known them for years. Perhaps this is an indication that these songs would if they had been released by Badfinger have been considered classics like "No Matter What," "Day After Day," and "Baby Blue."

In conclusion, we can say there is only one conclusion: Pete Ham. Pop Genius.
 

Riverfront Times
9/29/99
Jordan Oakes

The core of Badfinger's bittersweet apple, Pete Ham wrote the group's hits - radio classics such as "Day After day," "Baby Blue," and "No Matter What." Badfinger conjoined charged-up rock and pleading pop, adding just enough English boogie (courtesy of guitarist Joey Molland) to stay nimble. By the time the compositions of Molland, Tommy Evans, and Mike Gibbins could stand alongside Ham's without embarrassment, on the amazingly cohesive (and underrated) Wish You Were Here, a bad business deal had left them not just broke but without an album to sell - Warner Bros. pulled Wish You Were Here from the shelves faster than you can say "Come And Get It." Sadly, the fact that Ham and (much later) bassist Evans committed suicide can't help but legitimize the melancholy of Badfinger's lure.

Still, Ham's tunes had always been dark snapshots, albeit ones developing in the light of hope. A poet in a con man's world, Ham in songs like "Perfection" and "Carry On Til Tomorrow" (written with Evans) strove to get across not idealism but resignation, an acceptance of life's hard edges that belied his subsequent surrender. Ham was half missionary, half visionary and hopelessly lost in misery. Golders Green is the second CD (the first was 7 Park Avenue) that presents Ham's demos in all their homey rawness and melodic sophistication. Whereas in Badfinger Ham balanced the roles of ready rocker and heartstring-plucker, Golders Green casts him as a kind of pop Nick Drake a pensive troubadour with a guitar-full of troubles. A joyful exception to the sad rule is "Makes Me Feel Good," a catchy and complete pop song that could have been groomed into a Badfinger classic (and you get it in two versions). The autumnal woe of Ham's most revealing work is apparent in farewell-tinged ballads like "I'll Kiss You Goodnight." I'd pit this song against any on Lou Reed's Berlin or Big Star's Third for sheer depressive potency. Purists take note: The demos on Golders Green were in some cases repaired by way of newly recorded nuances. But they were used only to replenish what was already, in theory, there - like painting restoration.

You'd swear, though, that nothing here was recorded since the early 70's, because producer Dan Matovina is not only a brilliant engineer but a purist himself. He repaired these tapes with surgical precision. He also wrote a careful, thorough book on Badfinger (whose initial hardback run contained a CD with even more of this stuff.) The integrity of the late bloomer's archives are in Matovina's hands - hands that, fortunately, know which studio dials to rotate. If you're a Badfinger fan, you'll like Golders Green for its embryonic resemblance. If you're not, you'll still be moved by these tuneful, quixotic sketches.
 

Uncut
October 1999
Kit Aitken

Desperately undervalued in his lifetime, Pete Ham's sad demise (demoralizing industry experiences prompting a 1975 suicide) and melodious melancholy have inspired some commentators to elevate his achievements to Misunderstood Genius proportions, as if to compensate somehow. The legacy produced by his McCartney-esque gifts, while always pleasing, don't quite sustain such attention, and one would be forgiven for approaching these home demos (as recently buffed-up with extra musicians by Badfinger biographer Dan Matovina) with skepticism.

Actually, they're charming, Matovina's diddling managing to give coherence to the innate fragmentation while retaining a fascinating private sketchbook quality. From the near-complete ("Dawn," "Goodbye John Frost") to the 30-second harmony flotsam ("Gonna Do It") to the pre-Tom Evans's chorus version of "Without You," it's captivating, sometimes beautiful stuff that even at this distance from his tragedy is heavy with doomed-soul poignancy.
 

Gadfly
August 1999
JWW

Anyone alive after 1972 has heard "Without You" on the radio. Harry Nilsson took it to number one in 1972, and Mariah Carey made it a hit in 1994. Written by Pete Ham with his Badfinger bandmate Tom Evans, this song, along with a coterie of others by Ham, established him as a consummate songwriter by the mid-1970's.

Music was Pete Ham's passion. By the time he was four, he played the mouth organ. When he was fourteen, the guitar had become an obsession, and by the mid-60's, Ham had started a top-flight rock group called the Iveys.

In 1966, Ham and the Iveys moved into a rented house at Seven Park Avenue in the Golders Green area of London. Their manager provided a soundproof demo studio in the house, and the songs on Rykodisc's Pete Ham Golders Green were written in this studio. Golders Green is a very good solo collection: "A Lonely Day," "Makes Me Feel Good" and the excellent "Midnight Caller" make this disc well worth the listen. Pete Ham writes and sings his own melodies, but guest musicians were recently recorded in order to fill in the demos.... The business side of the music industry may have swallowed a fine musician, but the songs didn't die. Ham was a songmeister, and he is now getting his just due. too bad he's not here to enjoy it.
 

DISCOL
7-18-99
George Krieger

The late great Pete Ham of Badfinger must be one of the most tragic figures of the post-Beatles era (where's the movie?). Badfinger remains one of this reviewers all-time favorite bands with Pete Ham penning the best songs and possessing the most perfect pop vocal for those songs this side of Paul McCartney. Dan Matovina has of late become a one-man Pete Ham booster with first a wonderful (if depressing) book about the band entitled Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger (contact www.sirius.com/~crimson) and now two CDs of Ham demos. Both CDs contain mostly unfinished demo versions of released tunes and some unreleased gems that Matovina added understated instrumental backing to. The first CD on Ryko was 7 Park Avenue and is worth purchasing before this one simply because the songs are stronger. This disc has some great moments ("Makes Me Feel Good" and the almost Chicago-like "Dawn"), but must be considered for major fans. Who else is going to want to hear a 39 second snippet of "Shine On" or a 22 second snippet of a song called "Gonna Do It" which is about all the song says. There are several
very listenable moments like the "Maxwell Silver Hammer"-like "Goodbye John Frost" and the Kinks copy "Keyhole Street," but none of these could be considered indispensible unless you ache for new Badfinger product like yours truly.

 

Tiny Tunes
January 31, 2000
Stewart Mason

The second Rykodisc collection of solo demos by the nominal leader of legendary pop icons Badfinger, Golders Green is named after the London neighborhood where the Welsh-born Pete Ham lived in the early '70s, when these songs were recorded. Though Ham (who committed suicide in 1975) was arguably Badfinger's best songwriter and easily their finest singer, the band's strongly-held democracy meant that he wrote considerably more songs than the band could ever use. This is a shame, since guitar-pop gems like "Dawn" and the unbelievably catchy "Makes Me Feel Good" (here in two versions) would have enlivened any of Badfinger's albums.

Aside from a fascinating electric piano and voice demo of the worldwide hit "Without You" (minus the stirring chorus written later by Badfinger guitarist Tom Evans), Badfinger never recorded any of these songs. Unfortunately, not all the tracks are undiscovered gems. "Pete's Walk" is a superfluous fuzz-guitar instrumental (fleshed out, like several of the songs, by newly-recorded rhythm tracks), and the bouncy piano workout "Goodbye John Frost" owes a huge debt to Badfinger's early patron Paul McCartney. A mid-CD stretch of song fragments each lasting under a minute barely even offers historical interest.

On the other hand, stark acoustic demos of otherwise lost songs like the charmingly Merseybeat-esque "I'll Kiss You Goodnight" tantalize with thoughts of what could have been, and frankly, the intimate, rough-edged production often sounds better than Badfinger's sometimes too-slick gloss. Don't bother with Golders Green unless you're already a Badfinger fan, but if you are, much of this album is simply fantastic.
 

City Paper
July 1, 1999

This collection of rollicking, folky mod ditties was culled from demos made by Badfinger member Pete Ham in his basement studio during the late í60s. The old recordings were recently spruced up and filled out by former Badfinger member Bob Jackson and Chris von Sneidern. Less produced and more soulful than many of Badfingerís glitzy tracks, itís better Brit-pop than the junk played by todayís Brit-pop bands.
 

E-Opinions
Feb 02 '00
by Headphone Harry

When Pete Ham committed suicide in 1975, the music world lost one of its great composers of the pop/rock song, and fans since have been left to wonder what might have been. Not that they didn't have some idea, mind you, for a listen to Badfinger's catalog even up to that time left no doubt what a talent Pete Ham was.

"Golders Green" is the second release (after "7 Park Avenue") of Pete Ham demos on the Rykodisc label, and I find myself listening more often to this batch then the "7 Park Avenue" material.

It should be noted that some present-day overdubs were used on some demos. This is a subject of debate that could fill up pages, but with regards to this disc, the listener will not find it obtrusive (as on the live concert CD release some years ago -- Badfinger "Day After Day" -- in which new drum parts were overdubbed annoyingly up front and loud in the mix), and when used, it was done by the likes of Chris von Sneidern, for example, and others who revere Pete Ham and certainly believe in the integrity of the material above all else.

Overall, the demos help one to understand how Pete Ham crafted a song, as some are just snippets or unfinished, unpolished works-in-progress. Badfinger fans will especially appreciate early demos of the Badfinger songs "Without You" (which at this stage did not yet have the Tom Evans written chorus), "Shine On" (a partial bit only, alas), and the poignant "Midnight Caller". Other gems on the disc are "Makes Me Feel Good", "Dawn", "Hurry On Father", and "Helping Hand", and as one might expect, much of the material is littered with fine melodic pop hooks and personal lyrics in the Pete Ham mold.

For 'Joe Average Music Fan', I might rate this CD three out of five stars, but for Badfinger fans and myself, I would give it four. There was a time when I wondered if Pete Ham would merely slip through the cracks of time and be forgotten, but with the releases of his demo material of late, and the ever-increasing acknowledgement by newer power-pop bands over the years, it looks like Pete Ham will be (and perhaps already is) justifiably recognized as one of the forefathers of power-pop/rock, and his legacy and legend grow continually.
 

OnDisc
August 19, 1999
Joanne Huffa

The relentlessly upbeat "Makes Me Feel Good" opens and closes this release of demos and lost songs by tragic Badfinger member Pete Ham. The first version (from '68; the closing track is a longer, earlier demo) is a spirited pop tune that offers no hint that the singer would soon hit such despair that he would kill himself. In fact, the majority of the 20 songs in this collection are upbeat, melodic numbers with only the raging "I've Waited So Long to Be Free" and the aching "Helping Hand" and "Whiskey Man" offering posthumous hints at Ham's psychological woes. Testament to Ham's songwriting ability is the demo of "Without You" (prior to the inclusion of bandmate Tom Evans' "I can't live..." chorus); this version is so awkwardly beautiful that it manages to erase a lifetime of oldies-station association.
 

Beatlefan
June 1999
by Ajax Mink

The rule: Sequels generally aren't a good idea and usually prove inferior to the original. The exception: "Golders Green," a second album of Pete Ham demos following up 1997's "7 Park Avenue," also on Rykodisc. It's not only not a letdown from the first release, it's actually an improvement thanks to a more stylistically varied collection of songs, again assembled by Badfinger biographer Dan Matovina.

Liner notes and recording details weren't provided with the advance disc sent for review, but like the earlier album, guest musicians (including onetime Badfinger keyboardist Bob Jackson) were brought in to fill out Ham's one-man demos, recorded at the group's home in the area of London from which this album's name is taken. The result hangs together a lot better than you'd think, considering it's origins. As you'd expect of Ham, Apple's best non-Beatle songwriter, the 20-track album is full of melodic, hook-filled tunes, many of which you can easily imagine Badfinger performing, but a few of which depart from that group's usual territory.

High points include the catchy "Makes Me Feel Good," represented by two different versions that open and close the album (very reminiscent of Ham's primo work on "No Dice"); the McCartney-esque "A Lonely Day," "Dawn," a dreamy midtempo number with a haunting guitar hook, "I'll Kiss You Goodnight," a pretty acoustic ballad that shows a strong Brian Wilson influence (down to the falsetto vocal); "Helping Hand," a midtempo electric guitar number (the album's longest track at 3:50) that would sound right at home on one of the Finger's later albums; and "Where Will You Be," a stately, dramatic ballad that again brings Wilson to mind.

Early versions of Badfinger tunes are also included: an unfinished electric keyboard demo of "Without You" with a different chorus (before it was replaced by Tom Evans' "can't live . . ." chorus); an infuriatingly brief snippet of the overlooked classic "Shine On," and a piano demo of the lovely "Midnight Caller" that suffers a bit from dodgy recording quality.

Filling out the album" "Pete's Walk" (an instrumental that's basically a throwaway), "Hurry On Father" (unfinished, also one of the lesser selections), "Goodbye John Frost" (a piano demo again reminiscent of Paul McCartney), "When The Feeling" (an undeveloped song fragment on drums), "Gonna Do It (another fragment, only 22 seconds long), "Whiskey Man" (harmonica-backed country blues). "Keyhole Street" (a bouncy pop ditty with Iveys-like backing vocals), "I've Waited So Long To Be Free" (a melancholy, Lennon-esque acoustic ballad), "Richard" (an upbeat rocker) and "I'm So Lonely" (a slightly bluesy electric guitar demo).

When you hear the wealth of material Pete Ham left in the demo studio, you marvel at what a team player he was to hold back some great songs in favor of sometimes-lesser material by his bandmates on Badfinger's albums. And you curse the music industry SOB's and inner demos that led Ham to take his own life and deny us many more years of wonderful music.
 

The Beatletter
July 1999

A second posthumous album of gems from Badfinger member Pete Ham has been released by Ryko. Golders Green (Ryko RCD 10481 on CD only), named for the region outside London where Pete once resided, has 20 outtakes and demos.

Included are early versions of Badfinger songs, Without You, Shine On (a frustratingly short snippet), and Midnight Caller. Without You appears in its earliest from, before Tom Evans' separate composition "I Can't Live" was grafted into the chorus.

A few of the album's rougher cuts have additional instrumentation and voices, recorded recently by ex-Badfinger member Bob Jackson and others. The feel of the songs era (1967-1975), though, is never disturbed.

Highlights of the album are the original Without You, Badfinger-esque Makes Me Feel Good and Pete's Walk, the stunningly brilliant Dawn, and the Ob-La-Di-like Goodbye John Frost. The entire album is pleasant, though, and every bit as good as Pete's first compilation, 7 Park Avenue.
 

Rockland Courier-Gazette
July 29, 1999
Tom Von Malder

Before killing himself at age 27, Ham was a songwriting mainstay of the British pop band Badfinger, discovered by Beatle Paul McCartney. This is the second volume (following 7 Park Avenue) of home-studio recordings of various degrees of completeness. In some cases, guest musicians, including former Badfinger member Bob Jackson and Chris von Sneidern, have been brought in to "slightly enhance" these demos, originally recorded on an early '60s Revox Sound-On-Sound tape machine. of the 20 tracks, 11 clock in at less than two minutes. Included are alternate versions of "Without You" and "Shine On" the melodic "Dawn" (one of the more complete selections), the power-pop of "Makes Me Feel Good" the jaunty piano ditty "Goodbye John Frost," the bouncy "Makes Me Feel good" and the funky groove and fine guitar of "I'm So Lonely" (about living life in the spotlight). The Bluesy "Whiskey Man" complete with hiccup, shows Ham's darker mood, "Richard" is a chunky rock ode to a man's private parts and "Midnight Caller" covered by Tim Hardin, is pensive as it tells the true travails of one-time booking agent/friend Sue Wing, who became a call girl.
 

Disc Combobulated
Solomon Bass

Ham was the lead singer for Badfinger - a band that had lots of hits on Apple Records - until he made a bad career move and hung himself in 1975. Ham is a master of hook-filled bubblegum pop songs, and this is the second collection of his more obscure efforts. Obscure does not mean crummy. Dead means crummy.
 

Minnesota Daily
Sept. 16, 1999
Gillian Gaar

In the early 70's, Pete Ham and Tom Evans, members of the ill-starred British band Badfinger, co-wrote "Without You," which went on to become a monster hit for Harry Nilsson (and later Mariah Carey), making pots of money for just about everyone except Ham and Evans. The two eventually succumbed to depression, Ham committing suicide in 1975, Evans following in 1983. Golders Green is the second set of Ham demos to be released (the first set, 7 Park Avenue, appeared in 1997), and is a collection of little gems. Badfinger fans, along with other devotees of' 70s-era pop, will be intrigued to hear the original demos of songs like "Shine On" before they were all popped up. And the demo of "Without You" has a sweetness not found on the later classic rock-styled versions, and shows how Evans' contribution (the music and lyrics of the chorus) was an essential element in the song's completion
 

All Music Guide
July 13, 1999
Richie Unterberger

The second collection of previously unreleased home demos by Ham is almost as worthwhile and satisfying to the ear as its predecessor, 7 Park Avenue. Again some musicians (including Bob Jackson, who was in Badfinger for a while shortly before Ham's death) "enhanced" these recordings with overdubs. And as with 7 Park Avenue, while it's impossible to tell if these were truly necessary without comparison to the original unadorned versions, these overdubs do not seem intrusive (as they are on most productions of this sort). Although there are 20 tracks, it's not as bountiful a platter as one might hope (adding up to only 42 minutes), as some of the songs are quite short, and three are nothing more than performances, sometimes exhibiting a Beach Boys bent that's not so evident on Badfinger's official recordings. The cut to attract the most attention will be a demo of "Without You," although Ham's version is an incomplete skeleton of the track that Badfinger would record (and Nilsson would cover for a chart-topping hit), missing the chorus added by fellow Badfinger member Tom Evans. Otherwise a highlight is "Makes Me Feel Good," two drastically different versions (one slow, one fast) of which close and open the disc; it sounds like it could have made a first-rate Monkees track (which is a compliment, not a knock). On the whole, the effect of this CD, as was the case with 7 Park Avenue, is to make one wish that Badfinger had recorded more of Ham's material, and made less room for the songwriting efforts of the lesser composers in the band.
 

Sing Out
Fall 1999
R. Weir

Fan's of '70s pop music know that The Beatles sound outlived the band's breakup: Badfinger front-man Pete Ham was a veritable one-man Beatles. With a voice and songwriting style reminiscent of Paul McCartney (who wrote Badfinger's first hit single), Ham penned numerous bright and optimistic ditties, many of which were at odds with his inner turmoil. (Ham hanged himself in 1975.) This collection brings together demo tapes made in Ham's Golders Green home/studio in the late 60's and early 70's. Some of it's just noodling around and is unworthy of commercial release, but gems like "Without You," "I'll Kiss You Goodnight," and "Midnight Caller" justify the sticker price. So does the trip down memory lane.
 

Jewish Chronicle
October 1, 1999

Peter Ham? Golders Green? Is this niche marketing gone seriously awry, or someone's idea of a joke?

Neither. Ham, as students of rock's small print will know, was once the driving force behind Beatles faves Badfinger.

And Golders Green? Simple, really. It was where Ham lived when he wrote and recorded this album.

One mystery solved, then, but there is another. How could this Beatles sound alike songsmith write the cheery mini-masterpieces which punctuate this album, and yet hang himself a few years later at the age of 27?

Who knows? On the album laden with pure pop, only the stark demo for "Without You" (made immortal by Harry Nilsson - another rock casualty) hints at the demons which obviously plagued Ham.
 

The Guardian
October 22, 1999
Tom Cox

If you were a famous singer in the 70s and you made it to 28, you could relax: you had effectively reached the stage that the remainder of the western world celebrates at 21 - danced with the devil without falling into the abyss, entered the dragon without going up in flames, hung your wild years on a nail in the closet and locked the door, readied yourself - just maybe - for adulthood, most crucially of all, you weren't 27 anymore.

Pete Ham, like Joplin, Hendrix, and Morrison, died at 27; the proverbial rock-star age when the ego outgrows the star and the star begins to believe he or she can walk on water while snorting cocaine from a hell's angel's belly button and being fellated by ravenous groupies. but Ham's demise wasn't glamorous or hedonistic, it's anomalous among 70s rock-star deaths in that it reminds us of real struggles, sensitive, conscientious people and genuine injustices.

Ham wrote the songs on Golders Green on his home Revox tape recorder (in Golders Green) during time out from fronting power-poppers Badfinger. they are sad songs (A Lonely Day), half- and quarter- realised song's (Pete's Walk, Shine On), lonely, beseeching, ominous songs (Whiskey Man). If you've never heard Ham or Badfinger, starting here would be like going straight to Paul McCartney's eponymous solo debut having never heard the Beatles: intriguing, but far more so if you're aware of the history that it footnotes. Straight Up, Badfinger's silky 1971 pinnacle, would be a bett er place to begin.

Golders Green is a scrappy effort never intended for release, yet Ham's natural melodic flow; his essential sweetness, means that the scraps from his cutting room floor are more satisfying than most lavish opuses. sounding like a harder, bluesier, Let It Be-era Beatles, Badfinger wrote the most uplifting power-pop of the early-70's - too late for Beatlemania, too early to be recognised alongside second-generation Fabheads such as Big Star or The Shoes. Discounting their hairstyles, their only crime were being perennially out of fashion and honest, trustful human beings in a sea of self-interested sharks. For them, like many groups, being in a rock band was a way of delaying the onset of adulthood, a return to the days of unaccountable pocket money and zero responsibility. Playing music and being paid for it was enough in life (in 1969, as the newest hitmakers signed to the Beatles apple corporation, they were receiving a whacking eight pounds per week). But by 1974, Ham and his co-songwriter Tom Evans found themselves destitute, wrangling over disappearing wages with not one, but two record companies, unable to go on, find a way out, or see a future.

It's with this in mind that Green and its despairing songs are so poignant (not to mention those of its more coherent predecessor, 7 Park Avenue). The anguish mounts through the cold nights of Where Will You Be and the trapped days of I'm So Lonely. the album finishes with an optimistic 1967 demo called Makes Me Feel Good - a powerful demonstration of just how far Ham's spirits had fallen. Every Badfinger fan knows what came next. On April 23, 1975, after a conversation with Evans which ended with the words "Don't worry. I know a way out.." Ham hanged himself in his garage, pledging, in his suicide note to take his manager Stan Polley, "With me."

It's a spectral, sketchy album with something for lovers of McCartney, Emitt Rhodes, Guided By Voices and Alex Chilton, and a cautionary tale which should be heard by all just-signed musicians who make the mistake of confusing Mr. Big Multinational cigar with dad.
 

Classic Rock
November/December 1999
Jerry Ewing

Ham was guitarist and vocalist with Badfinger. The 70s powerpop act signed to the Beatles Apple label. Dogged by the suggestion that they were mere copyists of the Fab Four, the band's alarming slide into oblivion was compounded by Ham's suicide in 1975. this is the second collection of Ham demos recorded at his home at 7 Park Avenue in the titular Green of North London - a collection of musical curios ranging from a haunting "Without You" (later made famous by Harry Nilsson) to "Goodbye John Frost," almost a rip-off of the Beatles own 'Ob-La-Di..." It's all very charming, if dated, in a 70s style.
 

Bucketfull Of Brains
Summer 1999
Terry Hermon

Tragic is the word that appears most in any reference to the ex-Badfinger songwriter who tragically, departed this world at the end of a rope just prior to his 28th birthday. the problem with this is that it taints all that Ham has done with an overbearing melancholy which sells the man short. his legacy deserves to be heralded in a more positive manner. In his short life he was responsible for some of pop music's most euphoric (No Matter what) and impassioned (Without You, written with Tom Evans) moments and its his talent not his sadness that should be recognised.

Green is the second collection of previously unheard demo recordings to be released by Ryko. It's a more cohesive album than its predecessor, 7 Park Avenue, and the sound quality is pretty excellent throughout. this could have much to do with the fact that a number of empathetic musicians including Chris von Sneidern, Jonathan Lea, and Derrick Anderson provided overdubs to add a rhythm track or more full range of sound to enhance the listening experience, and they, along with producer Dan Matovina, do a bloody good job.

This really could be the solo album that Ham never got to releasing. There are 20 tracks. Most under three minutes long and some just snippets. This in places gives the album a similar vibe to Abbey Road of the fully realised songs, special mention goes to the two very different versions of Makes Me Feel Good, (one moody pop, the other modish skiffle), Dawn, wit hits jazzy summer freshness, the fragile, double-tracked vocals of I'll Kiss You Goodnight, the emotionally draining and world-weary I've Waited So Long To Be free, and, in total contract, the tongue-in-cheek rocker, Richard.
 

Virgin Net
http://www.virgin.net/music/releases/index.html

Pete Ham was the singer, guitarist and main songwriter in Seventies rock legends Badfinger. He co-wrote the might musical masterpiece Without You, which made and sold millions when covered by Nilsson. Sadly, none of this did Peter Ham any good during his lifetime and, frustrated by the legal and financial wrangling surrounding his band, he committed suicide at age 27. Green is the second posthumously put together collection of his unreleased demos of the hits that never were. The instant highlight is his heartbroken and haunted rendition of Without You, which puts Harry Nilsson's histrionics to shame. However, Ham was considerably more than a one-song wonder and the classic happy pop of songs like Makes Me Feel Good, Goodbye John Frost, and Keyhole Street sound, in their rough and ready demo renditions, as fresh to the ear as when they were recorded as well as being a collection of classic pop songs, Green is also a fascinating visit to Ham's home studio: he harmonises with himself, has a go at the harmonica for a bit and sketches thirty second song snippets. All this and it comes in a tasteful pale green tinted CD case, too. An essential purchase on any count.