Pete Ham - Golders Green

Released on Ryko - RCD 10481 in July 1999 (US)

Tracks: Written By: Year: Time
1:Makes Me Feel Good # 1 (Ham) 1968 1.47
2:A Lonely Day (Ham) 1972 1.57
3:Dawn (Ham) 1969 3.16
4:Without You (Ham/Evans) 1969 2.08
5:Pete's Walk (Ham) 1970 1.25
6:Hurry On Father (Ham) 1971 1.37
7:Goodbye John Frost (Ham) 1970 1.54
8: I'll Kiss You Goodnight (Ham) 1967 2.36
9: When The Feeling (Ham) 1972 0.55
10: Shine On (Ham/Evans) 1973 0.39
11: Gonna Do It (Ham) 1972 0.22
12: Whiskey Man (Ham) 1972 1.26
13: Keyhole Street (Ham) 1966 2.23
14: I've Waited So Long (Ham) 1972 1.35
15: Richard (Ham) 1972 3.06
16: Midnight Caller (Ham) 1970 2.39
17: Helping Hand (Ham) 1975 3.50
18: Where Will You Be (Ham) 1970 1.52
19: I'm So Lonely (Ham) 1972 3.11
20: Makes Me Feel Good # 2 (Ham) 1967 2.04

Bonus Tracks On Japanese Version

21: Piano Red (Ham) 1972 4.57
22: Evening Sky (Ham) 1969 2.25

My comments:

Golders Green HTML

This longawaited second collection of Pete Ham demos comes two and a half years after the release of the first, 7 Park Avenue. I hope we don’t have to wait that long for third, because this one certainly lives up to the expectations I had in the light of 7 P.A.

What strikes me after the first listen to Golders Green is the great variety of styles that Pete throws himself into and how brilliantly he does it.

There are pop ballads like “Dawn” and “I’ll Kiss You Goodnight” - Rockers like “Richard” - Pop/rock melodies with hit potential like “Makes Me Feel Good” and “Helping Hand” - mellow folkish songs; “I’ve Waited So Long To Be Free”, “Hurry On Father” and “A Lonely Day”. There are demos of well-known Badfinger tunes like “Midnight Caller” and “Without You” ( actually “If It’s Love” - before it was paired with Tom Evans’ chorus ). A new new aspect which did not show very much on 7PA is the bluesy side of Pete Ham which here is represented by “Whiskey Man” and “I’m So Lonely”. A few tracks are very short fragments or unfinished demos such as “Shine On” and “Pete’s Walk”. “When The Feeling” and “Gonna Do It” show Pete having fun and experimenting, when recording.

One thing all tracks have in common is the great sense of melody which is characteristic for Pete’s songwriting and singing. Many tracks are greatly inspired by The Beatles but they never come off just as poor imitations of the Fab. Four’s work. Compared to 7 Park Avenue the sound quality is slightly better - a few tracks are almost in professional studio quality. The songs on Golders Greens equals those of 7PA in quality - there are no signs that the well is drying up. The overdubbing and general production is similar to that of its predecessor - you actually never really know for sure when the drums, bass or keyboards are Pete himself or if they were added later. A few tracks feature great guitar solo playing by Pete e.g. “I’m So Lonely”, “Helping Hand” and “Pete’s Walk”.

On the negative side I could mention the playing time ( 41 minutes ) - but if more CD’s with Pete demos are coming in near future, “It Doesn’t Really Matter” - that much. The track listing can always be discussed - I would probably have placed the very short fragment tracks otherwise. A few tracks ends very abruptly - I guess that could have been fixed somehow.

All in all I think Dan Matovina has done an excellent job again - and we don’t know what condition these tapes were in, when Dan started working with them - I hope he will reveal something about this in the future.

Here’s my comment to the songs track by track:

1. Makes Me Feel Good

A terrific choice for an opener. You’re caught in right from the beginning. A very catchy tune with obvious hit potentials had it been released in the late 60’s. Excellent sound-quality and playing. Probably recorded late in The Iverys period and superior to much of what they released in their time. It probably could have been their breakthrough had they recorded and released it around 68/69. A highlight.

2. A Lonely Day

A lovely melody and moving lyrics, not unlike what Paul Simon recorded with Art Garfunkel. Pete sings harmony with himself. Another highlight.

3. Dawn

A great pop ballad, recorded around 1970. It’s the kind of song that could easily have been recorded by a singer like Dusty Springfield. Sounds pretty finished.

4. Without You / If Its Love

This early demo of the song shows that both lyrics and melody were changed a little until it was finally paired with Tom Evans’ chorus. This original chorus is actually very good, too.It’s Pete by the piano. Also a very nice track.

5. Pete’s Walk

A short instrumental, featuring drums, bass, keyboard and guitar. It has a great sound and there’s a kind of overture feeling to it. Would probably have fitted nicely into one of Badfinger’s Apple albums.

6. Hurry On, Father

Pete and his acoustic. Beautiful melody; nice singing and playing, though obviously an unfinished demo.

7. Goodbye, John Frost

A piano boogie track. Pete plays the piano in a style similar to his playing on “Piano Red”. His vocals are very Paul McCartneyish. A catchy - melodic - commercial kind of song. Bass and drums are probably added later.

8. I’ll Kiss You Goodnight

An acoustic demo from The Iveys days. The Iveys actually did record this song. Though not exactly a bad melody, I feel it’s too much of a time piece to be really interesting today. A bit too sentimental for my taste.

9. When The Feeling

This is Pete enjoying himself at the drum-kit - with a cigarette. Pete sings improvised lyrics in a “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” manner. A funny track - a shame it ends so abruptly.

10. Shine On

A very short fragment of an acoustic demo done by Pete alone - probably from before Tom and Pete began to work together on it.

11. Gonna Do It

Another very short fragment of Pete multitracking himself singing “Gonna Do It”. Not really a song.

12. Whiskey Man

Pete showcasing his abilities to play and sing the blues. A very good track.

13. Keyhole Street.

Pete’s bid to the sixties trend of writing a hymn to one of your hometown streets. A bit too much like “Penny Lane” or “Doubleback Alley”. A fine commercial melody, though.

14. I’ve Waited So Long To Be Free

An unfinished mellow song. For me, one of the real great tracks - a gorgeous melody. A shame it was never finished; I think it could have become a Badfinger favourite.

15. Richard

A straight-forward rocker featuring Pete and his electric guitar. Maybe Pete intended this song for Badfinger’s live-repertoire. Great track - that also would have fitted Badfinger’s style.

16. Midnight Caller

A demo-version of this well-known “No Dice”-classic. It’s Pete singing by the piano harmonizing himself. The lyrics are slightly different from the finished Badfinger version.

17. Helping Hand

One of Pete’s very last songs. Great uptempo guitar driven track, featuring bass, drums and a short guitar solo. Another highlight.

18. Where Will You Be

Another ballad. Pete’s multitracked choir reminds me side 2 of “Abbey Road” ( Because . . ) . A fine track.

19. I’m So Lonely

A real standout track. A bluesy number featuring great guitarplaying and singing. Excellent sound. Keyboard probably added later.

20. Makes Me Feel Good

Probably an early version of the first track. In fact only the chorus is the same. Pete changed the melody of the verse completely. This version is faster and the sound is a bit muddy. Had it been recorded in 1966 by Herman’s Hermits, The Monkees or The Tremeloes it might have been a hit.

My favourites:

Makes Me Feel Good (track 1), A Lonely Day, I've Waited So Long To Be Free, Helping Hand and I'm So Lonely

Other very good songs:
Hurry On, Father, Whiskey Man, Where Will You Be and Richard

Of 10 possible stars I would give this album: 8

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