Pete Ham was a member of Badfinger and this is the second collection of "demo" songs that he recorded at home, in the late '60s and early '70s, on a sound-on-sound Revox 1/4" reel deck. The curious thing here is that many of the songs were overdubbed upon recently in order to "fill in a discrepancy of the level of the vocal track to the instruments" and to "add a rhythm track or more full range of sound" according to the liner notes. The overdubs do sound appropriate, nothing seems too modern, which leads me to praise the musicians (including Chris from the Sneetches and Bob Jackson who was originally in Badfinger) and the producers (led by Dan Matovina).

The Avengers are one of my favorite West coast punk bands ever. Due to licensing nightmares, with most of their proper recordings in limbo with an unscrupulous label, Penelope Houston put together this collection of live, demo and such versions of some songs and discovered a lot of forgotten tracks in the process. The live tapes contained songs that were "unusable", and so she and Greg Ingraham (guitar) pulled in some youngsters as the rhythm section to re-record three of these tracks as the Scavengers. "We hope the purists will forgive us (or fuck 'em)" Penelope states in the liner notes.

I guess the question is whether the re-recording or doctoring of tapes invalidates their archival worth. In both situations the benefit is that the songs are rendered listenable and preserved as documents of the creative processes going on. And the songs are great, which leads me to say, yes, it is okay, but there certainly is a fine line to tread. (Pete Ham: Rykodisc, Shetland Park, 27 Congress St., Salem, MA 01970. The Avengers: Lookout!, PO Box 11347, Berkeley, CA 94712)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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