Released: March 1979
Chart Peak: #125
Weeks Charted: 8
After five years and the loss of two band members, Badfinger returns from pop exile, not as the ghost of Beatles but as a pair of singer/songwriters precariously balancing British pop-music intuition against the weight of American FM commercial dictums.
On Airwaves, survivors Joey Molland and Tom Evans understandably show the strain. For starters, they face the unenviable task of eclipsing such early Seventies successes as "Carry On Till Tomorrow," "No Matter What" and possibly the best album the Beatles never made, No Dice. They give it a good go, permitting themselves a short acoustic indulgence before stepping into the feisty "Look Out California."
But with the exception of "Love Is Gonna Come at Last" and "The Winner," two effervescent entries propelled by a choppy, John Lennon-like guitar, Airwaves suffers from a bad case of weak knees. Badfinger, when faced with the dilemma of pop versus pap, opts for an uneasy commercial compromise that renders even a forceful rocker like "Sympathy" impotent with a flaccid disco beat. Similarly, such dramatic ballads as "The Dreamer" and "Sail Away," for all their atmospheric high harmonies, are hurt by David Campbell's wimpy string arrangements and the dryly unimaginative production of David Malloy, an Eddie Rabbitt/Stella Parton veteran with no apparent feel for Anglo-American pop.
- David Fricke, Rolling Stone, 5-3-79.
Two of the original members of Badfinger -- Joey Molland and Tom Evans -- are here backed by studio musicians on what is less a comeback album than an attempt to capitalize on whatever value is left in the Badfinger name. The original Badfinger had such an arresting sound that for a time it was thought they might possibly be the new Beatles, not imitators or successors. They recorded for Apple and were produced by Mal Evans, once the Beatles' road manager; their debut single was "Come and Get It," written by McCartney, but soon they were writing hits of their own, such as "No Matter What," "Baby Blue," and "Day After Day." The collapse of Apple and the lawsuits and squabbles between the former Beatles and their managers hurt Badfinger a lot, and when Pete Ham died (he had been responsible for their material and sound) this very promising group disintegrated. Airwaves has some good material -- Molland's "Love Is Gonna Come At Last" and Joe Tansin's "Sympathy" -- and some good performances, but I think the name "Badfinger" ought to be permanently retired. While this is not entirely a case of false advertising, it is hardly in the best of taste.
- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 6/79.
Using the magic of overdubbing and a complement of star studio musicians, Tom Evans and Joey Molland take a respectable shot at recreating the three-part harmonies and pop sheen of the early '70s. "I want to get back," Evans sings on the title track, and you would, too, if you had been reduced to manual labor after hobnobbing with The Beatles. Like early Badfinger, much of this evokes their old mentors, especially "Love Is Gonna Come At Last" (#69), their first singles chart hit in seven years. Often, however, the material is only pedestrian, and although this album actually did a little better commercially than the group's two Warner Bros. albums of 1974, it didn't make for a real comeback. * *
- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
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