“Beware of bad company”: Bad Company – Bad Company (1974)

bad, coI remember when I was younger and more impressionable I liked Free.  I thought All Right Now was the best rock songs I’d heard and that video of them playing to millions of people was just incredible.  Kosoff, although a mad druggie, was brilliant at playing both notes and nothing, Andy Fraser had funk and blues running through his veins, and the drummer, Simon Kirke, was solid.  He knew when to hang and when to play.  Then there was that Paul Rodgers chap – my new favourite vocalist.  It all worked and appealed to me.  So I picked up Fire and Water for my new-ish CD player.

This phase lasted a few months.  Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the odd bit of Free, but I really can’t say that they had a hold on me beyond that.  However, it was a good band to open up other doors – eventually leading to the discovery of some of those ol’ blues kings (as well as Jeff Beck, etc. via Paul Rodgers’ Muddy Waters album).  But that was about it, really.  I never bothered with Bad Company and by the time Rodgers was drafted in as frontman of Queen I had forgotten about all the good that he and Free had done.  So that’s why this is such a strange one.

I’m not sure exactly why, but I decided to pick up Bad Company‘s debut one day when I was out looking at records with a friend of mine.  In fairness, the purchase was largely informed by three important things:

  • my friend’s statement that this was a “solid no-frills rock album”
  • fond memories of that pre-Bad Company Rodgers vehicle I just mentioned; and
  • memories of my short stint as frontman for a covers band back when I was a tad younger than I am now (the reportoire included a few of the numbers featured on here)

Looking closer at Bad Company the band, it’s actually a fairly good line-up.  Aside from Rodgers, there’s Free’s drummer Kirpe, Mott the Hoople’s Mick Ralphs and ex-King Crimson bass-man Boz Burrell.  So, at £4 it seemed like a decent enough purchase, right?  Well …

insideThe first side is actually really pretty good and shows off Ralphs and Rodgers songwriting.  It kicks off with some fairly straight forward rock staples in Can’t Get Enough and Rock Steady.  The highlight of the album comes pretty early in the form of a cover version – the Ralphs penned Mott the Hoople number Ready for Love.  The Ralph / Rodgers co-write, Don’t Let Me Down, is a nice side closer.  All ballady and suchlike.  The problems start when I flipped it over, though.  It’s a tad pedestrian …

… additionally, I have issues with self-titled tracks.  Title tracks are fine, but self-titled numbers just make me sigh.  Unfortunately the second side kicks off with such a track.  Bad Company was penned by Rodgers and his ol’ Free co-hort Simon Kirke.  There’s really not much to it. A nice wee guitar driven chorus to a rather peculiar piano driven verse.  The Way I Choose and Movin’ On are similar (though in fairness they may not be – they by this point I tuned out completely!), while Seagull simultaneously offers a stylistic diversion and Rodgers’ moment to show off his talents by not only singing, but playing all the instruments.  Good on you, Paul.
backI don’t actually have much else to say about it.  The album art is a tad plain and I don’t much like the inside of the gatefold – it doesn’t really do much, but highlight the complete lack of vibrancy or urgency of the music.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy enough to listen to, I guess.  But it’s maybe hindered by the lack of ambition and the fact that, despite the talent of those involved, it falls short of being anywhere close to anything from Free, King Crimson or Mott the Hoople.  Although I’m aware that’s a big ask (it is close to Free, right enough – which isn’t all that surprising really).

My wife said to me after this one “pick a better record next time”.  I have to agree … beware Bad Company, indeed.

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24 Comments

  1. Wanna know something funny about Paul Rodgers and self titled songs? He later had a band with Kenney Jones of the Who called The Law. And they had a theme song called “Layin’ Down the Law”. And it was basically a rewrite of “Bad Company”.

    Nice gatefold though!

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  2. Great review J….when you think of the term Classic Rock this one comes to mind! Paul Rodgers is showing up here in Thunder Bay this upcoming July he’s headlining night 3 of our local festival! Blues Festival they call it! It’s poorly set up and poorly organized but they do make a effort on the artists. Rodgers I will go and see…..man I almost wish he was plugging this album front to back!
    Doubt it though….

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    1. Yeah, it’s a classic rock staple, eh? While I don’t think I’ll be revisiting Bad Company again for a while, I think some of Rodgers’ solo stuff has been worthwhile (and bluesy – particularly the Muddy Waters album).

      Hope he puts on a good show, though. I’d imagine he would … he’s got quite the catalogue to choose from!

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  3. Right – pistols at dawn! I love the title track, as does Mrs 1537, it’s a western in a song. And the first three tracks are great manly tunes too. I struggle to remember any of the last three tracks though.

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    1. Oooft – terrible, terrible song (my apologies to you and Mrs 1537 for labouring that point with a double terrible). The first three I’ll give ya – two rock staples and an album highlight. The rest of this just doesn’t do anything for me.

      If I had the Kerrang! rating system in place I’d give this a lowly ‘JJ’.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I do like this band but I always preferred their next album, Straight Shooter to this. This one is a bit too patchy and pedestrian. The title is the best thing on it though so you need to rethink that or else I’ll be rounding up a posse!

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    1. Seems like I’m in some bother here – you and Mr 1537 (and Mrs 1537) have me outnumbered and outgunned, it seems!

      Additionally, on the strength of this one I’m not likely to check out Straight Shooter.

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  5. It’s on the 1001 list J – if I feel the same as you after exploring, I’ll help defend you in any duels. Though if I feel food tastes better after hearing Bad Company…good on you for not feeling you have to love everything on a ‘classic’

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  6. Count me as another who rates it substantially better than two stars. Although there is a fine line between slow and sluggish, I find Side One really quite strong. Rogers is a blues wailer, but of a superior class and all four songs demonstrate this admirably. Side Two is less remarkable, sure.

    Like 1537, I also rate ‘Straight Shooter’ higher, especially Side One which I reckon is one of the great sides in rock: consistent, powerful, vibrant. Fact, I think I’ll put it on now… sometimes you need some Bad Company.

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    1. My ‘JJ’ was maybe harsh – maybe a ‘JJJ’.

      Like I said, I thought the first side is actually really pretty good. However, each time I’ve listened to this one I find myself drifting off during Side Two.

      I’ll need to throw Straight Shooter on the list … I’m feeling a lot of love for that one here.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I must admit to being a bad company hits fan. Was always a flicker on their CD’s as I was with Free. Although after reading this review I will give it another spin. Its always difficult to take these bands seriously after hearing numerous (myself included) destroy these tracks in gigs and jam nights.

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    1. I dare say it’s the hits that allow easy access to most bands. But yes – bands like Bad Company and Free are heavily covered due to the radio rock staples in their catalogues …

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