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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

THE PILGRIM by Joey Molland

My review of Joey Molland's album The Pilgrim appeared in the July 10th, 1992 issue of Goldmine. I had previously seen Joey Molland's Badfinger live at a club show in 1990, but the best (for me) was yet to come. I'll write about seeing Joey Molland live in a future edition of Virtual Ticket Stub Gallery.

The Pilgrim
Joey Molland
Rykodisc 10212

While the world waits for the remainder of the Badfinger catalog to finally see reissue, former 'Finger Joey Molland returns with his first solo album in ages. Casual Badfinger fans may not be blown away by The Pilgrim, but more serious fans will take cautious delight in this long-awaited work.

The album opens with its most aggressive track, the anti-Gulf War "You Make Me Sick." Subsequent tracks vary stylistically from the ballad "No One Likes The Rain" to "Your Eyes," a rocker reminiscent of Nick Lowe. "Vampire Wedding" dips into Anne Rice territory, while "All The Way" (the album's original title track) simply drones on for too long.

It's somewhat surprising to note that each track retains an indefinable but unmistakable Apple flavor--the songs sound of a piece, not only with Badfinger's now-classic recordings for the Apple label, but also with work by former label mate Jackie Lomax. This may be attributed to a critic's overactive imagination, but the Apple sound (if there is such a thing) is definitely still in the grooves for Molland.

We'd like to say that the material here rivals Badfinger hits like "Baby Blue" and "No Matter What," but that would be stretching the truth to the point of, well, outright lying. Molland is not the late Pete Ham, and we wouldn't even bother with the comparison if the Rock Critics' Code didn't specifically require that the current work of former Apple artists be constantly contrasted with their work of over 20 years ago. Sorry, but them's union rules.

Really, Molland shouldn't need to rely on past glories. The fact that he didn't go for the easy name recognition and release this as an album by Joey Molland's Badfinger (the name under which he tours) is admirable, and makes the point that it's time to treat Molland as the solo artist he is. For Badfinger fans, The Pilgrim builds successfully upon Molland's previous work. For novices, this is as good a place as any to start. Come and get it.