Take One: Badfinger ‘Apple of My Eye’ 1973 – Ass LP

by | Mar 7, 2015 | 0 comments

In today’s edition of ‘Take One’, the ‘rock room’ will
analyze ‘Badfinger’s final single for Apple Records as well as one of
guitarist/songwriter Pete Ham’s finest melodic constructions. The song ‘Apple
of My Eye’ was released as a single in December 1973 is support of Badfinger’s
final full length LP on Apple Records titled, Ass. In
what had become Murphy’s Law for the group, their final release prior to signing
a new contract with Warner Brothers was fraught with drama and difficulty. Due
to financial issues with the Apple label as well as release conflicts, the single was forgotten as quickly as
it was released, with no picture sleeve issued and promotions few. The track
would be the final non-Beatles single to be released by the label.

In addition to being the only single to come from the Ass LP, the Pete Ham composition was
also the opening track on the album. This factor is an obvious statement on the
strength of the songwriting and of the dynamics of the melody. The song is a
mid-tempo ballad that features textured instrumentation and always earnest Pete Ham vocals. Ham composed the song while inspired by his emotional conflict regarding the band leaving Apple Records for Warner Brothers. Ham, as well as
the entire group was torn due to their inherent loyalty to Apple,
combined with their hopefulness to create a career free of the Beatles
influence and based on their own abilities and talents. Lyrically the song contains this aforementioned message of farewell and thanks to the people of Apple, but at its core, still remains the perfect love song.

The true definition of the term ‘Apple of My Eye’ is stated
as ‘the one who is held above all others’, while it can also refer to the
actual pupil or the round dark center of the eye. Ham’s superior songwriting
and astute compositional abilities used this saying to create a musical statement
on his internalized feelings about leaving for supposed greener pastures. ‘Apple of My Eye’ successfully compartmentalizes and disseminates
these conflicting emotions through distinguished melody and superior musicianship.

Oddly enough, the Warner Brothers and Apple contracts ran
concurrent causing both Ass and the
band’s self titled debut for Warner’s to hit the marketplace at roughly the same time. This,
in effect nullified any possible success of either album, confusing the public and saturating the market. Apple Records would ironically
choose ‘Apple of My Eye’ as the single from Ass
even after the group had already removed themselves from the label. The
song acted as a fitting statement of finality to a musical relationship that had its ups and
downs, but in the end concluded with a mutual respect on both sides. A musical ‘Dear John’
letter if you will, concluding the relationship through an honest expression and
recall of shared past glories. The released single would be b/w the wildly
flapping Tom Evans track ‘Blind Owl’.

In typical Pete Ham lyrical fashion, his sensitivity is put
under glass for the listener to study. The song opens with solitary vocal apologizing
for having to ‘move away’, the honesty and icy regret in Ham’s vocals reflected
deeply. The melody, so delicious, is traced leisurely, warmed and stretched.. Bass,
drums and resplendent acoustic guitars fall into line, steadying the melodic
vocal weaving. Think of George Harrison’s early 1970’s arrangements that make
use of stratified and marching acoustic guitars, the feel here is similar.

The fair haired strumming gives way to a short but dramatic
instrumental break that eventually becomes more assertive and definite as the song
continues. As Ham begins to sing the the second verse of the song, a
spectral Moog line drifts through the sonic spread and ghostly ‘oooh’s’ slowly
drip from the songs juicy center. Evans bass is gently understated. Ham harmonizes with himself, double tracked on certain
lines, drawing out the light detail and heavy importance of the statements. The mid verse
breakdowns sprout fresh green leaves from single picked descending guitar notes from Molland that work in conjunction with Mike
Gibbins well timed cymbal splashes and the distant mountain backing vocals. All of these detailed elements collaborate to design an orchestrated addendum to the song proper.

With verse three, Ham repeats the first verse again, this
time with a sticky sweet keyboard counter melody that whistles underneath the
central vocal refrain. His singing is effortless and genuine; I believe every
word that he sings, as if he is sharing a special personalized secret. It’s unfortunate that this song was a victim of business, musical
politics and missed opportunity because in the ‘rock room’s opinion it has been touched with the special magic that other underrated and compelling Ham compositions such
as ‘Name of the Game’ and ‘Midnight Caller’ contain. Ham’s songwriting strengths
are epitomized through the song, illustrated by deft production values and exceptional
instrumentation techniques.

‘Apple of My Eye’ is a fitting conclusion to the Apple
Records career of Badfinger and in a way signals the beginning of the end for
the group. Their two Warner Brothers albums would fall victim to shady
accounting and underhanded business practices resulting in the 1974 ‘Wish You
Were Here’ LP being pulled from the shelves; in effect negating the LP’s
amazing collection of songs.

Unfortunately, the song ‘Apple of My Eye’ never
penetrated the charts deeply, or became popularized in ‘pop’ terms.  It does exist as a beautiful and honest
expression of thankfulness and love that fans of the group can continue to
revisit. The track exemplifies everything amazing that had happened to the
group in their early career with Apple, while unfortunately foreshadowing the
trouble and tragedy still to come.

Apple of My Eye


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