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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Badger - One Live Badger (1976 uk, remarkable prog rock, 2016 digi pak remaster)

After Tony Kaye left Yes he formed Badger and in an unprecedented move of great confidence the band supported Yes at The Rainbow in London and recorded their show, playing completely unknown material to the audience and then released it as their first album. Brave on many levels and although they were surely well received with ex-Yes man Tony Kaye in the line-up, the audience reaction sounds rather too good to be true.

The band plays that kind of seventies music that no one remembers. A great band, with Roy Dyke on drums from Ashton Gardner and Dyke, (Dyke played On George Harrison’s Wonderwall) and I presume David Foster on bass, who shares lead vocals with guitarist Adrian Parrish. But what are they – not Progressive, not Pop, not Blues or anything you can put your finger on – not that it should matter. But produced by Geoffrey Haslam and Jon Anderson (whatever that means in this live setting) they were really good at a nameless style. I’m not sure if it’s the songs or the singing but the more I hear it I equally admire and dismiss it. It’s the strangest feeling to be both impressed and unmoved simultaneously. Maybe you have to get to know the songs but really, why did they not release a studio record? The answer to that is probably that they were good enough to not have to, and maybe the record is better than it would have been with studio polish. I’ve never felt as ambivalent towards a record as I am towards this one.

It obviously wasn’t working for the singers in the band either with Foster and Parrish both leaving. They hired Kim Gardner, from Ashton Gardner and Dyke on bass and then established singer Jackie Lomax (whose debut solo album was released on Apple and produced by George Harrison). Lomax took over the band and wrote most of the materal in a Soul/Blues direction releasing White Lady – a studio album in 1974, produced by New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint.

That was it, and it would be unfair to remember them just for the Roger Dean cover art and the pop-up badger in the gatefold of the debut album, that novelty item notwithstanding, their claim to fame is lost in the cruel mists of time.
by Marty Willson-Pipe

The early '70s marked the heyday of progressive rock -- it seemed like every time you turned around and everywhere you looked, there were top-flight bands like Yes, King Crimson, ELP, Pink Floyd, the Moody Blues, et al., all around, and their emulators and lesser rivals spreading out as far as the eye could see. Badger was part of that whole scene, a Yes offshoot group that managed to get signed by the same label. Officially, the group's origins go back to 1972 and Tony Kaye's departure from Flash, the group he'd co-founded with his fellow ex-Yes alumni, guitarist Peter Banks. Kaye was a virtuoso who favored more traditional instruments such as the Hammond organ over the more modern Moog synthesizer (not that he didn't play the latter, but he used the organ more prominently), and who had the bad fortune to have been succeeded in Yes by the much flashier Rick Wakeman. This time out, he was going to put together his own progressive rock supergroup, on a firmer footing than Flash (whose work had sometimes strayed too close to that of Yes).

The ex-Yes keyboard player called on his longtime friend David Foster, who had managed to skirt the orbit of Yes several times without ever being asked into that lineup (in part because his instrument was the bass, and Yes was incredibly well covered in that department by Chris Squire). Foster had been a member of the Warriors, Yes lead singer Jon Anderson's mid-'60s group, and had co-authored songs with Anderson on Yes' second album, Time and a Word. Kaye had ended up working with Foster on what was ultimately to be an unreleased Foster album -- when Kaye quit Yes in 1971, he initially joined Banks in founding Flash, but after his exit from the latter, Kaye and Foster decided to finally take the plunge. They recruited drummer Roy Dyke, lately a member of Family and, before that, Ashton, Gardner & Dyke -- he was a Liverpool veteran whose career went back to the early '60s and the Remo 4 and Brian Epstein protégé Tommy Quickly, and had played on one hit single, Ashton, Gardner & Dyke's "Resurrection Shuffle"; he, in turn, steered the organizers to Brian Parrish, an ex-member of Medicine Head and Three Man Army, who had played with Paul Gurvitz and Mike Kellie in an outfit called Parrish & Gurvitz, who'd cut one LP for Regal Zonophone.

The quartet, christened Badger, fit together perfectly, and after some rehearsals began building a name for itself on a European tour opening for Black Sabbath. The band was signed by Atlantic Records, which already had Yes and saw Badger as potentially offering another group of the same caliber. When it came time to record an album, however, it was decided that nothing they tried in the studio was capturing the intensity and involvement they demonstrated on-stage, and that a live album was the best way to introduce Badger. A show at the Rainbow Theatre, opening for a now well-established Yes, was recorded, produced by Jon Anderson and Geoffrey Haslam. One Live Badger did rather better in Europe than it did in America, though it got strong reviews everywhere. Perhaps if it had come out at another time -- and not in the same season that the first wave of progressive rock albums from ELP's Manticore label was being released, with lots of publicity and advertising support -- it might've done better, and a single might've been a help (even Yes had needed "Roundabout" to find a mass audience).
by Bruce Eder

One Live Badger is the easier Badger album to find, and the one worth having anyway. As the album's title indicates, the band also took the unusual step of making their first album a live recording of original songs. It has aged very well -- with all the energy of live performance, there's none of the usual studio excesses or noodling of the era. The Yes connection via Tony Kaye is abundantly evident; the album was co-produced by Yes singer Jon Anderson, uses long instrumental breaks and prominent Hammond organ solos, and features the obligatory Roger Dean cover art. Nonetheless, the brooding lyrics and soulful harmonies make comparisons to Traffic and Blind Faith a much closer musical match. The first half of the album is excellent, kicking off with the pleasingly hoarse vocals of David Foster on the full-tilt rocker "Wheel of Fortune" and the pensive "Fountain." There's an especially tight rhythm section underlying the restrained guitar work of "Wind of Change," combining to produce the album's best song.
by Paul Collins

1. Wheel Of Fortune - 7:56
2. Fountain - 7:24
3. Wind Of Change - 7:15
4. River - 6:53
5. The Preacher (Brian Parrish) - 4:00
6. On The Way Home - 7:40
All compositions by Brian Parrish, Tony Kaye, Dave Foster, Roy Dyke, except track #5
Recorded live at The Rainbow Theatre 15th/16th December, 1972

*Dave Foster - Bass Guitar
*Roy Dyke - Drums
*Brian Parrish - Guitar
*Tony Kaye - Keyboards

1975  Badger - White Lady (2015 remaster) 

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