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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 24 June 2006
Additional comments to the 2010 remastered release:

"Ass" is undoubtedly the Badfinger album that has benefitted most from the new remastering. On the first CD release from 1996 the sound was very muddy and certainly not on par with the other Apple reissues. This is now thankfully corrected with this new 2010 release.

Also disappointing was it that the 1996 version contained only one single bonus track. This has also improved with this release, which now includes five bonus tracks, several of which are really exciting additions.

"Do You Mind" was the lone bonus number on the first release. On the new edition is the number again to find, but in a different version, which unfortunately is not better. I am missing Tom Evans fine harmony vocals on the chorus, a little frustrating since Molland himself is no great singer.

Pete Ham's "Apple of My Eye" is found in an earlier edition produced by the group themselves, good, but not as good as the final version which Chris Thomas helped to produce.

Tom Evans's "Blind Owl" is also found in an earlier version which "Apple of My Eye" is interesting, but not quite as good as the final version.

"Regular" is an unpretentious Joey Molland song that has never before been released. The song appear finished, but has probably originally not been found good enough to get on the album. Another outtake from "Ass" is Pete Ham's "Piano Red", which unfortunately is only available as a digital download, unless you want to invest in then Apple Box set. A shame, as the album generally lacks Pete Ham songs - it must be said that "Piano Red" is a somewhat atypical Ham song which may also have been deselected by being too different.

The last number is a different mix of Pete Ham's magnificent "Timeless". The mix is not as clear as the album version, but sounds like it's the same basic track, but with a different and shorter end. Since the album version is over seven minutes, some might feel that this slightly shorter version is to be preferred.

Original review:

The story behind the release of Ass is in several ways similar to that behind "Straight Up". The first recordings for this album, that turned out to be their last for Apple Records, began in January 1972; and the final recording took place in April 1973. The album was not released until late 73 in the USA and in March 74 in Europe. Their change of record company from Apple to Warner Brothers was one among other reason for the delay. Actually a first version of the album had been completed by the end of 72, but it was rejected by Apple. The original version of Ass had been produced by the band themselves, and they were going for a more basic rock album.
In early 73 Apple called in Chris Thomas to produce new recordings and to look through, what had already been finished. A similar situation had occurred when Todd Rundgren had been recruited for finishing "Straight Up". The two earliest recordings on this album were in fact ("The Winner" and "I Can Love You") produced by Rundgren. Pete's "Apple Of My Eye" and "Timeless" were re-recorded and two new Molland songs ( "Icicles" and "Constitution") with Chris Thomas were added. The rest of the album are leftovers from the scrapped version.

The album turned out to be a commercial failure; not because of the music but because of other things like little promotion, bad timing, the change of record company, lack of recent hit-single etc. The album was different from their earlier albums - they had wanted to do basic rock album representing the music they performed live, and that is mainly what "Ass" became. People who'd expected and hoped for another album similar to "No Dice" and "Straight Up" were obviously disappointed. Pete Ham only contributed 2 songs, of which only "Apple Of My Eye" was a typical Ham composition. Tom Evans wrote two very strong tracks, "When I Say" and "Blind Owl" - the first a lovely ballad and the second a wonderful rocker, which became a live favourite. Mike Gibbins wrote "Cowboy", a country styled song, which sound somewhat unfinished and which does not fit very well into the concept of the album. The rest of the album was written by Joey Molland. 3 straight ahead blues/rockers and two ballads. The album is the first where Pete Ham really gets a chance to demonstrate what a great lead guitarist he was, f. ex. on tracks like "Blind Owl", "Constitution" and "Timeless". The only bonustrack "Do You Mind" is an outtake from the first version of the album - it's written by Molland and it's one of his best early Badfinger songs.

My favourites: "Apple Of My Eye", "Blind Owl", "When I Say", "Timeless" and "Do You Mind"
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VINE VOICEon 12 November 2005
Badfinger's history is characterised by tragedy, bad luck, mismanagement, financial controversy and... oh yes, some lovely music that hasn't been widely enough heard. Indeed, this is one of their least heard albums, made when they were in commercial decline. Its main strength is a gorgeous production, dominated by the kind of chunky guitar sound captured on their earlier hit, "No Matter What".
Once again, their democratic songwriting policy restricts the talented Pete Ham to a couple of credits and, as usual, they are the best songs on show. His "Apple Of My Eye", with its descending guitar part and Ham's regretful parting lyric, is unforgettable. "Timeless", which closes the album, is a haunting, seven-minute, guitar-drenched piece.
Between these tracks are several three-minute songs penned mostly by Joey Molland, now the only surviving member of this quartet, with the odd Tom Evans contribution. These songs are generally above average but are boosted by the production and, as usual, it's tempting to make comparisons with certain late-60s Beatles songs. "Constitution", for instance, seems to have borrowed from "Helter Skelter".
Nevertheless, Badfinger show here that they weren't finished... artistically, anyway.
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Monday 25 October 2010 has seen 14 of the 'Apple' label albums remastered and reissued alongside "Come And Get It" - a first-time-ever label 'Best Of'. This reissue is one of them.

Apple 5099964243924 breaks down as follows (53:46 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 are the LP "Ass" released 26 November 1973 in the USA on Apple SW-3411 and 8 March 1974 on Apple SAPCOR 27 in the UK (it reached number 122 on the American Billboard Top 100).

Tracks 11 to 15 are bonus tracks exclusive to this 2010 CD reissue:
"Do You Mind (Previously Unreleased Version)" is a Joey Molland song (11)
"Apple Of My Eye (Previously Unreleased Early Mix)" is a Pete Ham song (12)
"Blind Owl (Previously Unreleased Version)" is a Tom Evans song (13)
"Regular (Previously Unreleased)" is a Joey Molland song (14)
"Timeless (Previously Unreleased Version)" is a Pete Ham song (15)

Requiring extra payment, there are also 5 more tracks available via Digital Download from iTunes or Amazon - "Get Away (Bonus Track Version)", "I Can Love You (Bonus Track Version)", "Piano Red (Previously Unreleased)", "When I Say (Bonus Track Version)" and "The Winner (Bonus Track Version)" (see either site for cost details).

The front & rear of the original vinyl LP sleeve is reproduced on the gatefold card sleeve (with the black and white `Ass' inner bag on the inside of the gatefold), while noted writer and music lover ANDY DAVIS does the new liner notes for the booklet (they're all a disappointingly weedy 12 pages long - EMI pushes the boat out again people). But with what little text he has been afforded, Davis does at least fill it with properly informative details - and there are black & white studio shots of the band - PETE HAM, TOM EVANS, JOEY MOLLAND and MIKE GIBBINS. It's cute, but you do wish there was more...

The same team that handled the much-praised 09/09/09 Beatles remasters have done this too - GUY MASSEY, STEVE ROOKES, SAM OKELL and SIMON GIBSON. The audio quality is BEAUTIFUL - a massive improvement - makes you reassess a lot of the songs.

The album was produced by CHRIS THOMAS except for "The Winner" and "I Can Love You" - which had TODD RUNDGREN at the controls (Todd also produced their preceding album "Straight Up"). The 'bonus tracks' were self-produced by the band.

It opens well with Pete Ham and Joey Molland double - the melodic "Apple Of My Eye" (lyrics above) followed by the rocking "Get Away". "Apple Of My Eye" was in fact chosen as the album's lone single (March 1974 in the UK on APPLE 49, Apple 1864 in the USA) both with "Blind Owl" on the B-side. "Icicles", "The Winner" and "Constitution" are all Joey Molland songs and aren't great - typically dull mid-Seventies rock fare. The pretty "When I Say" by Tom Evans lifts things a bit, while "Cowboy" sounds like a poor man's Ozark Mountain Daredevils or McGuinness Flint looking for a hit they couldn't find. The last two tracks, however, finish the album with conviction - Joey Molland's world-weary "I Can Love You" and Pete Ham's epic "Timeless". On here twice (a superb final bonus track), "Timeless" drags out its near eight minutes duration like "I Want You" that ends Side 1 of "Abbey Road" by The Beatles - it's huge in every way - with equally impressive multi-layered instrumentation.

Their 2nd album "No Dice" from 1970 is a gem, but Badfinger surpassed even that with their 3rd from 1972 "Straight Up" - leagues ahead of their patchy 1969 debut "Magic Christian Music" both in terms of songwriting quality and sheer polish. "Ass" was their last album for Apple and even then seemed like an afterthought. Perhaps with more Pete Ham compositions... It dribbled out in late November 1973 in the USA and early March 1974 in the UK - and even as it was released - they'd moved on to Warner Brothers and begun recording for them. "Ass" also used to be the easiest one of Badfinger's valuable catalogue to find in dollar bins. In order words, it's a good album rather than a great one.

Niggles - in order to give a fuller review, I paid for the extra 5 downloads - and typically their quality is superb. When you add their 18 minutes or so onto the 54:36 minutes playing time, you see that they could all have easily fitted onto 1CD. I've Bear Family titles that regularly push past 85 minutes with no deterioration in sound for God's sake, so it's a crappy scam to have us fork out five more pounds for versions EMI know fans will want - and badly. There's also a MONO MIX on the promo 7" single of "Apple Of My Eye" that is nowhere to be seen.

The gatefold card sleeve is nice to look at for sure, but the booklet and overall packaging feel lightweight (what EMI could get away with). The CD should also have one of those gauze inner bags to protect it - a problem that no record company seems to want to acknowledge (scuffing and damage). The packaging issues are minor points I know, but this least desirable of their albums could have been made into something superb with 5 more quality bonuses (there's a 2CD set called "Complete Ass" which has 37 tracks!).

One Star or Five - Badfinger have always divided people - many calling them one of the great overlooked bands of the period - others calling them lightweight (most of the first album, bits of the second and some parts of this - their 4th). But there's still so much on here to genuinely admire and love.

To sum up - I still recommend it - especially given the massive improvement in sound quality and those shockingly good bonus tracks. Shame about those downloads though...

PS: see also my reviews for other releases in this October 2010 series:
"That's The Way God Planned It" (1969) and "Encouraging Words" (1970) by Billy Preston, "Doris Troy" (1970), "James Taylor" (1968), "Is This What You Want?" (1969) by Jackie Lomax, "Magic Christian Music" (1969), "No Dice" (1970) and "Straight Up" (1972) by Badfinger
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on 25 February 2014
This is the version of 'Ass' to get but it remains a frustrating experience. The production,although improved upon, is still murky. The balance is skewed, five songs from Joey, versus two each from Pete and Tom and once from Mike. Let's review the contribution of each:
Pete: 'Apple Of My Eye' is a decent ballad marred by bad production (the drums are buried basically), and a somewhat melodramatic lyric. Interesting to note that the early version,here as a bonus track, is far superior. 'Timeless' tries hard to be epic and it has its moments (again the bonus version is superior). But let down by twee lyrics which are quite annoying if the truth be told. And that's it from Pete Ham on this album. The opener and the closer, and neither up to his usual high standards. Not what we'd come to expect (not that i was around to hear it at the time! :- )
Tom 'Blind Owl' is a good rocker but the production lacks punch (I can imagine what Todd R would have done with this one!) 'When I Say' has a nice melody but a weak overly sentimental lyric. Nice guitar solo.
Joey: Two 'Straight Up' rejects which are both decent but rejects none the less. Then we have 'Icicles' which is OK but again a bit weak lyrically. 'Constitution' is a heavy Cream-like rocker with some accomplished guitar work. But it's pretty generic and not much of a song really. 'Get Away' is probably the most listenable as it's fun and heartfelt. Production is lacking again, even on the remastered version. It's a bit controversial to say this but I think the bonus track 'Regular' is my favourite Joey track of this collection. Because it offers some much needed humour alongside most of its heavy cousins. 'Ass' is a heavy album and the band obviously dismissed this one as it wasn't heavy enough. Shame. 'Do You Mind' is another creditable Joey bonus track, no doubt rejected for the same reason.
Mike: Cowboy. This is the album's absolute highlight in my opinion. Which is a bit like choosing the Ringo track as your favourite on a Beatles record. Perverse maybe, but I'll stick by this song. It never fails to raise a smile with its hilarious carefree lyric and the guitar solo is sublime. The production for once is perfect.
So this is a curious album, full of promise and the odd bit of inspiration but overall the band seems bogged down in trying to create a heavy sound. Which may have worked live I don't know (not sure) but here the songwriting for the most part gives way to a manufactured sound which doesn't convince me. Thankfully they were to return to form two years later with the sublime 'Wish You Were Here'. This album sees the band trading water in the midst of a label change and all the trepidation that no doubt entailed. 3 stars not 4 because of the sloppy production and the lack of chestnuts. But it has its moments folks.
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on 3 September 2015
More great pop rock, performed by a forgotten British band.
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on 20 July 2014
Fantastic album. It is underrated, but in my opinion it is comparable to their first two albums.
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on 30 October 2015
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on 26 January 2015
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