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A Bit of Badfinger at CIMMfest No. 5

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Bad lookin' Badfinger, 1972.

One universal theme of music is how it becomes so personal.
We all have our inside pleasures. I'm geared up about seeing The Iguanas for the umpteenth time this weekend at Rock n' Bowl in New Orleans.

Award winning Chicago filmmaker John Anderson really goes off the chain with "Joey Molland: Liverpool to Memphis," which makes its world premiere at 1 p.m. April 21 as part of CIMMFest No. 5 (Chicago International Movies & Music Festival) a the Logan Theatre 4, 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Molland, 65, is the last surviving member of Badfinger, the vintage era 1970-74......


......The power-pop group was signed to Apple Records in 1968 and made their name in the shadow of the Beatles. One of their biggest hits "Come and Get It" was written by Paul McCartney. George Harrison played guitar on the Badfinger hit "Baby Blue." John Lennon's drinking buddy Harry Niilson had a number one hit with Badfinger's "Without You."

These days, when I think of Badfinger, I think of the band's string of bad luck.
Vocalist-guitarist-songwriter Pete Ham hanged himself in his London home in 1975. He was 27.
Vocalist-guitarist Tom Evans also hanged himself in 1983. He was 36 and reportedly had business dust ups with Molland.
Drummer Mike Gibbins died of a brain aneurysm his Florida home in 2005. He was 56.

So you would think there would be a lot of compelling material for Anderson to work with. But, as the title indicates, this 57 minute project is not a Badfinger documentary, as much as it is Molland's journey from his Memphis inspired musical roots in Liverpool, back to current projects he is working on in Memphis.

Although Molland lives in Excelsior, Mn.
And the doc was shot in the Crimson Lounge of the Hotel Sax in Chicago and in Jim Peterik's "Lennon's Den Studio" in west suburban Burr Ridge. (Molland appears at a Q & A following the April 21 screening, and he performs acoustically at the festival's closing event at 7 p.m. April 21 at Constellation, 3111 N. Western.)

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Joey Molland today.


Molland addresses the deaths of his mates in three minutes. He doesn't offer a lot of insight, instead pointing out the obvious like "Pete couldn't take it any more," and how Ham couldn't afford nighties for his pregnant wife as the result of the band's bad business deals. According to Wikipedia, Ham left a suicide note that said "I will not be allowed to love and trust everybody. This is better."
This is not in the doc.

But this doc is for you if you are a Joey Mollland fan.
There's lots of live footage of his current band Joey Molland's Badfinger when they appeared in October, 2011 as part of the 5th Annual "School Rocks' fundraiser for San Miguel Schools Chicago. Molland opened for Cheap Trick at the Crimson Lounge in the Hotel Sax. There is no archival live footage of the original Badfinger.

But here is some for you as introduced by a young Kenny Rogers:

Joey Molland's Badfinger covers the hits as well as new material, including his own tender "Walk Out In The Rain" (different from Ham's 1970 version) is a keeper. Here's hoping Molland does this at CIMMFest.

Anderson does extract a couple of nuggets from Molland and I won't spoil them any more to say the best one involves Todd Rundgren. Molland's insight into the band's democratic approach to songwiting is interesting, although it is unclear if it is totally accurate. Many pop historians regard Ham as the band's main songwriter. I wish there had been outside voices to amp up the band's story. Paul McCartney or even Klaus Voorman would obviously have been tough gets, but how about interviewing a couple of audience members who actually spent their time watching Joey Molland's Badfinger in concert?

Anderson is also known around Chicago as the main singer-songwriter for The Cleaning Ladys pop band who will celebrate their 35th anniversary in August with a virtual box set called "Don't Mock the Rock." His background as a musician seemed to put Molland at ease and conversation flows seamlessly. Anderson even looks like one of the Iveys, the precursor to Badfinger.

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John and Brian Wilson, 2012 (Courtesy of John Anderson)

Anderson was nominated for a Grammy for his direction of "Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE," the platinum-selling DVD release from Warner Brothers/Rhino Home Video. The live performance DVD marked Anderson's fourth DVD collaboration with Wilson. Last year Anderson directed, edited and co-wrote "The Beach Boys: Doin' It Again," a PBS documentary about the band's 2012 reunion.

And now for any excuse to see The Iguanas, here we go. Thank you:

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Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.

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This page contains a single entry by David Hoekstra published on April 19, 2013 4:39 PM.

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