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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
No Dice
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£17.70+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 29 October 2010
`Writing about music is like dancing about architecture' Frank Zappa once said, or at least he said something like that, and he had a point. In Badfinger's case he had an especially pertinent point because this was a band capable of coming up with perfectly-crafted pop gems which, thanks to the music writers of the late 1960s / early 1970s became saddled with a debilitating `new Beatles' tag in much the same way as Steve Forbert got landed with the `new Dylan' tag at a time -the late 1970s- when `kids in the know' were signing up for the white riot of punk. As it is, ND originally came out in November of 1970, when perhaps a fair percentage of the known world was pining for the four who were "fab" on their Apple label. Fate plays such funny games...............

But what did those music writers know anyway? Evidently not enough to realise that Badfinger guitarist / vocalist Pete Ham's "Midnight Caller" is so fine because it's free of every contrivance and performed in a manner which lets the song do the talking, as opposed to an overwrought vocal or fussy arrangement.

Admittedly the band had the dubious distinction of getting a hit with McCartney's "Come And Get It" which of course made it a little easier for those small-eared writers, but the perfect riposte is here with Ham's "No Matter What" replete with crunchy guitar intro and harmonies that some bands would have paid an extortionate price to get.

So all in all labelling Badfinger the British Big Star smacks of laziness similar to that displayed by those writers who bandied that `new Beatles' tag around. Oh and the original reading of Ham and bass player Tom Evans's "Without You" is the best, simply because it's so well balanced.

Looking for great, time-honoured song craft? Well it's here in abundance with performances to match, so pay no mind to the lazy comparisons, including this reviewer's.
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on 27 February 2010
I bought this from Amazon the other day, having had it on vinyl some years ago. To be honest, I've found it a bit disapointing. Lots of mechanical power pop and limp balladry. Pete Ham's compositions do stand out however -'Midnight Caller', 'No Matter What' and 'Without You' in particular. I think he was the one real talent in this ensemble. Sad then that his version of 'Without You' was eclipsed by Harry Nilsson's. Enigmatic.
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VINE VOICEon 3 October 2006
While ELO cashed in big-style on the legacy of The Beatles, it was Badfinger who inherited the spirit. ELO had many good tunes but the Apple proteges, Pete Ham in particular, displayed a natural flair for songcraft. 'No Dice' is no imitation, but it does contain recordings with a similar feel to material such as 'Hey Jude' and the 'Abbey Road' album. Certainly, the main strength here is in the songwriting. There are some great performances, but the arrangements are occasionally erratic. Perhaps the best example of this is their original version of the famous 'Without You'. After hearing Harry Nilsson's version (forget Mariah Carey) you're struck by the weakness of the vocal, yet the lengthy fade-out winds up into something memorable.

Ham's compositions would prove to be the band's best but they were a songwriting democracy and, with the exception of 'Love Me Do' (no relation to the Lennon/McCartney song) the material is impeccable. The hit, 'No Matter What' is one highlight, Ham's touching ode to a prostitute, 'Midnight Caller', is another and 'We're For The Dark' is a suitable ending to an atmospherically-intense album. The five bonus songs all have something to commend them, notably 'I'll Be The One', though they don't hit the bullseye.

'No Dice', like all of Badfinger's albums up to 'Wish You Were Here', hasn't been heard by enough people. Buy it and hear for yourself.
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on 17 September 2006
No Dice was Badfinger's first masterpiece ( and my first Badfinger album!). The inspiration from The Beatles can be heard on most of these songs, but this album shows that they're much more than just a Beatles rip off. Some changes had been made since the recording of Magic Christian Music. Geoff Emerick (known from his work with The Beatles) produced most of the album; the rest of it was produced by Mal Evans who also produced some of Magic Christian Music. Ron Griffiths had already left before the release of the previous album so Tom Evans had now taken over the bass. Joey Molland ,who had played with Gary Walker, was chosen for a new guitarist. The material (the songs) on this album is very strong. "Without You" written by Tom and Pete has become an all-time classic - here's the original version - superior to any version I've heard so far. Enjoy Pete's organ line at the end of the song - sounds like something Matthew Fisher of Procol Harum could have done. "No Matter What", "Midnight Caller" and "We're For The Dark" all show what a brilliant songwriter with an unique sense of melody Pete Ham had already become. The album is a perfect blend of ballads, rockers and a bit of country ("Blodwyn"), generally performed with more rocking feeling than their earlier recordings. Though the album is obviously dominated by Pete Ham's songs all other members contribute to it. The bonus-tracks are all very good - 4 of them hail from the never-released follow-up album to "No Dice" recorded early 1971. The strongest of them is the group-composition "I'll Be The One", which at a certain point was considered as a single - I believe it had the hit-single potential.

My favourites: Midnight Caller, Without You, No Matter What, We're For The Dark and I'll Be The One
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Monday 25 October 2010 in the UK saw 14 of the 'Apple' label albums remastered and reissued (see list below) - alongside a first-time-ever label 'Best Of' compilation CD not surprisingly called "Come And Get It" (named after a huge BADFINGER hit penned by Paul McCartney specifically for the band). This zippy little expanded CD reissue of their 2nd album "No Dice" is one of them.

Apple 5099990580727 breaks down as follows (57:42 minutes):

1. I Can't Take It
2. I Don't Mind
3. Love Me Do
4. Midnight Caller
5. No Matter What
6. Without You
7. Blodwyn
8. Better Days
9. It Had To Be
10. Watford John
11. Believe Me
12. We're For The Dark
Tracks 1 to 12 are the Stereo LP "No Dice" by BADFINGER released 27 November 1970 in the UK on Apple SAPCOR 16 and on Apple SKAO-3367 in the USA (it reached number 28 on the American Billboard Top 100). Note: "Love Me Do" is not Beatles cover but a Joey Molland original and "Without You" is the song made famous by NILSSON (Number 1 in the UK in February 1972).

Tracks 13 to 17 are all previously unreleased and exclusive to this 2010 reissue:
13. "I Can't Take It" is an Extended Version - 4:14 as opposed to 2:55minutes
14. "Without You" is a Studio Demo Version
15. "Photograph (aka "Friends Are Hard To Find')" is a Previously Unreleased Version
16. "Believe Me" is an Alternate Version
17. "No Matter What" is a Studio Demo Version

Requiring extra payment there are also 2 more tracks available via Digital Download from iTunes or Amazon - an Instrumental Version of "Love Me Do" and an Extended Stereo Version of "Get Down" (see either site for details).

The gatefold sleeve of the original vinyl LP is reproduced 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 4 superb colour portraits of the band - PETE HAM, TOM EVANS, JOEY MOLLAND and MIKE GIBBINS. It's cute, but you do wish there was more...

The original album was produced by GEOFF EMERICK of Beatles/Abbey Road fame (except for "No Matter What", "Believe Me" and the bonus tracks from 14 through to 17 which were produced by MAL EVANS). Unlike so many of the sessions of the time, the recordings 'didn't' include a number of The Beatles and their talented friends - so the band got to shine all by themselves.

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 opens strongly with a Pete Ham original "I Can't Take It" - rocking guitars and pumping brass - it sounds really great. It's followed by the Big Star feel of "I Don't Mind" co-written by Tom Evans and Joey Molland - a song that starts out gently and then builds into an impressive melodious tune - it's excellent. Not so I'm afraid with "Love Me Do" (no relation to The Beatles song) - it's a poor man's rocker and doesn't really work. But then you're hit with a double-whammy of Badfinger excellence - "Midnight Caller" and the sublime "No Matter What" (lyrics above). Both stand the test of time - especially "No Matter What" - surely a contender for a Top Ten position in the list 'best 7" single ever released'.

"Without You" would of course be taken by NILSSON and transformed into one of the most extraordinarily powerful cover versions ever made. I heard in a car on the radio a few weeks back in the early morning on the way into work - and to this day it moves me - its opening chords still capable of calling up a shivering memory. "Blodwyn" is a ditty while the excellent "Better Days" turned up as the B-side to the UK 7" single of "No Matter What" (Apple 31) in November 1970 - they used "Carry On Till Tomorrow" as the B on the USA 7" (Apple 1822) - a track off their debut album "Magic Christian Music". The Mike Gibbins penned "It Had To Be" is a lovely song, while the band-composed "Watford John" is a rocker written about an Apple Studio Engineer called John Smith. The last two on the album are huge favourites among fans - Tom Evans' sweet "Believe Me" and Pete Ham's acoustic "We're For The Dark" - accomplished playing, melody builders - both define that certain 'Badfinger' sound. They end the album proper on a definite musical high note.

But like the other issues in this series, the best seems to be kept until last. Having grown used to the short album cut of "I Can't Take It" - I must say that I love the way it's spread out more on the fantastically rocking 'Extended Version'. You can see why it was cut, but in 2010 I'll take the 'indulgent' version any day of the week. Then fellows the 'Demo' of "Without You" which I find more affecting than the finished track - more akin to what Nilsson did with it - it's a gem. "Photograph" is a rough rock song - it's good, but it's eclipsed big time by a sweet-as-honey Alternate Take of "Believe Me" with more Piano and Electric Guitar - what a treat. The 'Demo' of "No Matter What" is close to the finished track, but without that killer electric guitar that made it. I must say that the bonus tracks are impressive rather than being superfluous. Very, very good indeed...

Niggles - the 2 download tracks will be desirable to fans and making them pay extra dollars for them via Download is cheapskate and crappy - and as you can see from the playing time above, there was plenty of room to include them on here (they're available as hardcopy on the double-CD that comes with the "Apple Box Set"). 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). They're minor points I know, but they're worth making...

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. I'd say that if you're coming to them cold in 2014 then it's probably somewhere in between. But fans will see it differently - they will eat this reissue up big time. To sum up - I still see "No Dice" as a great album - with songmanship that shines through even now. And they repeated that craft and warmth on their next album "Straight Up" too.

Recommended - especially given the massive improvement in sound quality and those shockingly good bonus tracks.

The October 2011 Apple CD Remasters are (I've reviewed most):
1. Magic Christian Music - BADFINGER (January 1970)
2. No Dice - BADFINGER (November 1970)
3. Straight Up - BADFINGER (1972)
4. Ass - BADFINGER (1974)
5. Postcard - MARY HOPKIN (1969)
6. Earth Song - Ocean Song - MARY HOPKIN (1971)
7. Is That What You Want? - JACKIE LOMAX (1969)
8. Under The Jasmine Tree / Space - THE MODERN JAZZ QUARTET (1968 and 1969 - 2LPs on 1CD)
9. That's The Way God Planned It - BILLY PRESTON (1969)
10. Encouraging Words - BILLY PRESTON (1970)
11. The Radha Krishna Temple - THE RADHA KRISHNA TEMPLE (1971)
12. The Whale / Celtic Requiem - JOHN TAVENOR (1970 and 1971 - 2LPs on 1CD)
13. James Taylor - JAMES TAYLOR (1968)
14. Doris Troy - DORIS TROY (1970)
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on 10 September 2003
Not as polished and well produced as the later 'wish you were here' album but this has the classic songs on. the sound is so raw, the vocals so tight. It's an album that you want to listen to again and again. 'without you' is superb as is 'no matter what' (someone should cover this) and 'we're for the dark' is amazing. the bonus tracks are superb. This is an album that people should listen to if they wanna know how to write good songs. a skill so sadly lacking in this day and age. the badfinger tale is a sad one but an inspiring one. Listen to them........
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on 14 December 2010
Is it really 40 years since i bought my first Lp ?- Yeah i'm afraid it is and , even allowing for the nostalic aspect to me buying this , i still love it .This band were much much better than they were ever given credit for . Great pop songs , well crafted , well played with great harmonies ( George Harrison used their vocal talents to great effect on "All Things Must Pass" )I stll love " Midnight Caller " a very romantic view of a lady of the night , " No Matter what " so Beatley , so instant hit material ( back in 1970 i nearly drove my sisters boyfriend mad with that when he came round ! ) I listen to the majestic " Without You ( here more blues based)with a hint of sadness as , you know the story of the two who wrote it ( Pete Ham and Tom Evans ), i just wish more people knew they wrote that song . Listening to it now , i smile to myself , just great pop songs and my mum gave me a right telling off over the album cover which i knew nothing about !Also , for a change nowadays , the bonus material is'nt throwaway , it's worth having Regards Gez .
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on 22 May 2006
1970 was not such a bad year for Beatles fans or it least it's that way in hindsight. We had decent albums from all four Beatles, a grand total of six if you don't count the Jam disc on 'All Things Must Pass'. And in the case of John's Plastic Ono Band, George's 'All Things Must Pass' and Ringo's Beaucoups Of Blues' I think decent is an understatement to say the least. And for those who disagreed with Lennon's statement (from the following year actually): 'It's only a rock group that split up, it's nothing important' we had Badfinger. For a while they actually appeared to be The Beatles reincarnated no less. Joey Molland was a McCartney lookalike who could rock out like Lennon, Pete Ham wrote and sang like McCartney, Tom Evans was thoroughly Beatlesque in every respect and Mike Gibbins drummed like some mad Ringo.

Of course, Badfinger ended up hating the Beatles comparison. But here on their second record, as on their first, they sounded just like them...no mean achievement in 1969/70.

The album opens with the catchy rocker 'I Can't Take It' featuring a passionate Ham vocal and some soaring guitar. Then 'I Don't Mind' (Evans-Molland) has beautiful harmonies reminiscent of 'Because' from Abbey Road'. 'Love Me Do' is a gripping rocker with afore mentioned mad drumming. 'Midnight Caller' is up there with similar gems from McCartney's pen, 'No Matter What' was a great rocker and a smash single and deservedly so. And then if Side One (vinyl) had not contained enough class material, the Side finished with 'Without You' which later would be a smash hit for Nilsson....and err...Mariah Carey. The original version here of this Ham-Evans song is earthy (as Tom put it) but quite gripping all the same. And less syrupy.

Side 2 opens with a great country number 'Blodwyn' which the Beatles would probably have asked Ringo to sing. Here Pete sings this thoroughly infectious song with aplomb. 'Better Days' is a class rocker from Joey, with him and Pete showcasing their considerable guitar talents to great effect. 'It Had To Be' shows Mike Gibbins could write a decent ballad, although he asks Pete Ham to sing it for him. Probabaly wisely. 'Watford John' is the one slightly weak moment here. A rocker but going through the motions somewhat. But then this album closes with two superb numbers: 'Believe Me' (Evans) which sounds rather like 'Oh Darling' (from 'Abbey Road again). Superb vocal from Tom. And then 'We Are For The Dark' which is one of Pete Ham's all time greats, and should be much more widely recognised in my opinion. The bonus tracks are interesting and great to have.

Badfinger are remembered now for two or three songs at best and that is an injustice if ever there was one. Their best work was up there with The Beatles. Honestly. Not said lightly.

After 'Straight Up' the follow up to this (see separate review which I have yet to write!), the later years would see some mixed quality material from Badinger until their grand return to form with the classic 'Wish You Were Here' album from 1975. After which terrible things happened including two band members committing suicide. I won't go into why that happened as that would make me angry and depressed in equal measure. But this band's legacy survives, no more so than right here on this wonderful album from 1970.
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on 24 August 2012
This was the first real Badfinger album and thier best. Well worth the money and makes a great addition to any collection. Hopefully Apple will be able to find some gems to release in the future.
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on 3 September 2015
A forgotten gem, that is worth investigating.
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