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Class ?

Main Category: Hard Rock
Also applicable: Arena Rock, Roots Rock
Starting Period: The Interim Years
Also active in: The Punk/New Wave Years, The Divided Eighties,

From Grunge To The Present Day



Disclaimer: this page is not written from the point of view of a Bad Company fanatic and is not generally intended for narrow-perspective Bad Company fanatics. If you are deeply offended by criticism, non-worshipping approach to your favourite artist, or opinions that do not match your own, do not read any further. If you are not, please consult the guidelines for sending your comments before doing so. For information on reviewing principles, please see the introduction. For specific non-comment-related questions, consult the message board.

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Year Of Release: 1974
Overall rating =


Best song: ROCK STEADY

Track listing: 1) Can't Get Enough; 2) Rock Steady; 3) Ready For Love; 4) Don't Let Me Down; 5) Bad Company; 6) The Way I Choose; 7) Movin' On; 8) Seagull.

'Well I take whatever I want, and baby I want you'. One phrase at the beginning of the first song on Bad Company's first album. Just one phrase, and it just about perfectly summarizes everything about generic, commercially successful, mainstreamish mid-Seventies cock-rock. 'I take whatever I want' - didn't they? This emphasis on the "sitting on top of the world" attitude, the behaviour of an illiterate, badly spoilt, money-burdened, coke-addled, long-haired rocker? But, of course, 'baby I want you', meaning that above all, the badly spoilt rocker wants to get laid; as often as possible, with as many as possible (the 'baby' in question is always left unspecified, you know). And even more important, there's this straightahead, brutal simplicity of delivery: no ridiculous 'poetic' flourishes for youse. The message is delivered openly and immediately. In other words - "wanna fuck"?

I don't like that attitude, but at least Bad Company make no bones about it. Not in 1974 they didn't, anyway. Nothing Foreigner-like about this record. Let's get this straight from the beginning: some of Bad Company's hits were pretty darn great, and, on some of the coldest nights, they had talent to burn. Look, there was a bassist from King Crimson and a guitarist from Mott The Hoople and a singer from Free, and all three bands kicked mighty ass in their prime, so why shouldn't they be successful? There's a goddamn reason about half of this album is being constantly rotated on every classic rock station in existence, and while eventually this becomes a good excuse for not listening to classic rock stations, well, the same can be said about 'Stairway To Heaven'.

I'd be the first to agree that Bad Company lyrics don't exactly smell of Harvard University. I'd actually be the first to admit that Bad Company lyrics exquisitely suck, as they're way too restrained to be as goofy as, say, the ones of AC/DC, yet way too "serious" to be as refreshingly minimalistic as the ones of the Ramones. On the positive side, KISS used to write lyrics that were (a) intentionally gross and (b) unintentionally unfunny, and Bad Company stick to point (b) without abusing point (a), so if you wanna get picky about it, I'd pick Bad Company. After all, nobody listens to cock-rock for the lyrics, so as long as they're not intentionally marked as Ugly Negative, rock steady, baby.

What really matters, what really brings the house down, is that there are HOOKS in these songs - some of them, at least. They may annoy and disgust you if you're fed up with classic rock radio, but based on what you're reading here, you should have stopped listening to classic rock radio a long time ago anyway. And if you don't, and approach this from an unbiased position, you will probably understand me as I full-fledgedly announce that 'Rock Steady' is a first rate riff-rocker, and that it that fully redeems itself for sacrilegiously rhyming 'ready' with 'steady' by the climactic '...ROCK STEADY!' scream in the chorus, shouted by Rogers about twice as loud as everything else and thus presenting a, uh, whassisname? - counterpoint. So that riff is a little of the 'Foxy Lady' kind. So who cares? 'Foxy Lady' was revolution and rebellion. 'Rock Steady', on the other hand, pats your ass instead of kicking it. But there's a time for everything.

Likewise, 'Ready For Love' used to be a good Mott The Hoople song, and these fresh beginners from Bad & Co., at this point in their still promising career, can hardly do it much damage. It even manages to retain a little of that wonderful original sense of danger - with the coolness and laziness and strange, melancholic atmosphere of the verses suddenly metamorphosing into almost challenging, almost brutal phallic posturing in the chorus. (The moody keyboards provide a great touch as well). It always made me feel a little bit amused - as if the protagonist, while declaring himself "ready for love", were viewing his lover man duties as something perfunctory and... well, something that doesn't really matter. Meaning he's ready for love and he wants you to stay all right... but he won't really be mad at you if you do not stay because he can just go on staring at the ceiling and wonderin' where his life is leadin' and all. Which, of course, makes the song even more misogynistic than it could be, but hey, misogyny is fun, and carefully hidden misogyny is funner. Let's give it to 'em bitches! All of 'em born to live inside Paul Rogers' pants, every one of 'em.

As for the title track, it kinda reminds me of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and I don't renounce that reminder - honest redneck rock with at least some care for melody and a great rock'n'roll guitar solo, what's up with that? Rogers even sounds similar to Ronnie Van Zant on that one, although he's got none of Ronnie's seducing nonchalance and about five percent of Ronnie's sense of humour and about minus five percent of Ronnie's Southern authenticity. Which, of course, only makes it even more impressive that 'Bad Company' manages to be a good song after all. Good for them - you know something's deeply wrong with the band if they have a self-titled album with a self-titled song and the latter one sucks. Finally, 'Movin' On', while probably the slightest of all the rockers, is also the most upbeat, and Mick Ralphs got a cool wah-wah pedal for that one.

The ballads are what seriously annoys me: 'Don't Let Me Down', for instance, is not a Beatles cover, but in that case, why does the chorus go almost exactly like the Beatles song? And why does 'The Way I Choose' sound essentially like 'Don't Let Me Down'? And why are both based on the cheapest ballad chord progression imaginable? To shove their genericity in our faces? Only 'Seagull' really crosses over to me, because the acoustic guitar is somewhat tasty (in a 'Working Class Hero' kind of way, only, of course, far less desperate) and there's a subtle folksy vibe throughout, and you know how it goes with folksy vibes - they always make the song seem less cheesy and less generic than it actually is, just because our conscience tends to equate "folksy" with "honest" and "tasteful" sometimes. Lord only knows why it is like that, but that's how the Lord planned it, and unless you wanna be in bad company, you'd better not deny it.

Now before I start preaching all over the place on a Bad Company album review of all things, I'd just like to voice this complaint: too few songs. Eight? That's, like, thirty-five minutes or something! Doesn't even give me the opportunity to write a half-decent review. But fact is, out of these eight, six actually have decent melodies, and you know, when you're not a supreme riffmeister and you still want to get along in a hard rock band, you really got to get out of your skin to achieve something like that. If there ever was such a thing as The Overwhelming Protuberance of Mediocrity, then Bad Company probably epitomizes it. There's not a single reason for anybody to memorize any of these songs - and despite that, most of them get memorized, and radio overplay is not to blame; radio overplay is the consequence of this, not the reason. They hit a nerve, and I won't deny.

Plus, let's admit it, maybe I was a bit hard on Paul Rogers and his acoustic apparatus out there. Bad Company sounds like a mildly serious album, and yet despite the lyrical problems and melodic restrictions, it hardly ever sounds parodic, and most probably, that's all due to that guy's vocals. Well, okay, they might not be as powerful and inimitable as the raving fans say, but they aren't overbearing. So many hard-rockin' dorks like Dave Coverdale will bellow their brains out trying to sound like lusty cavemen but sounding like lusty imbeciles instead; Rogers just doesn't do that. I respect that. I tip my hat, Mr Rogers! (And I don't even have a hat).



Year Of Release: 1975
Overall rating =

"Straight" indeed. One thing you can't accuse Paul Rogers of is untraditional sexual orientation.


Track listing: 1) Good Lovin' Gone Bad; 2) Feel Like Makin' Love; 3) Weep No More; 4) Shooting Star; 5) Deal With The Preacher; 6) Wild Fire Woman; 7) Anna; 8) Call On Me.

Ha! Another nice album from The One True Band That Writes Directly From The Heart! No, but really, these songs are good. At least half of this album is good, solidly good rock'n'roll, as opposed to the great rock'n'roll of the Stones, for instance, but dammit, there always had to be a niche for a band like this - no subtlety whatsoever, blunt hooks, straightforward message, acoustic and electric guitar that hit you on the head from the very beginning till the very end, raw imbecilic energy and yet, all this without any obvious intent to transform you into imbecilic brainless creatures, like KISS or anything. Solid rock'n'roll music to shake your ass to, nothing more, nothing less.

That's what 'Good Loving Gone Bad' is, a perfect example of a steady rock song for all da honest-working beer-drinkin' lower classes. So let's drink to the salt of the earth and shake our hips to Paul Rogers' histerical raving as he bellows out this, well, typical sequel to 'All Right Now', I'd say; the alternation of the soft and hard parts of the song works really well, and the simplistic riffs and almost punkish solo (well, at least, the MC5 would dig it) still display Mick Ralphs at his hottest, whatever that is.

Likewise, 'Feel Like Makin' Love' has this similar, but different twist about turning a seemingly acoustic ballad into a gritty rocker; just when you think this is the second song on the album and it already stinks, Ralphs goes "chunka", switches to electric and employs that generic three-chord riff (well, by that particular point he didn't have any four-chord ones left altogether), and the song suddenly hooks you in. Well, possibly. It also has the most wonderful showcase of Mick's soloing for his entire stay in the band, with all these stylish distorted echoey phrases coming out of nowhere and disappearing in more flurry echoes. Hey there Dave Gilmour, eat your heart out, you haven't even recorded 'Run Like Hell' yet! See me spotting weird influences and rip-offs on every corner. A good sleuth shouldn't be above digging up garbage like B... oh well.

Of course, the third song on the album is 'Weep No More', and starting from the bathetic orchestral introduction and down to the very last note of its insipid jelly-like inoffensive barroom muzak flavour, it blows more chunks than the entire Army of Salvation. As a kind and tolerant gentleman, I insist on a dozen healthy Mick Licks ralphs, er, Mick Ralphs licks being extracted from it and transplanted into a better setting, but I can't do anything about it myself - the world is such a cruel place, because it prompted drummer Simon Kirke into writing not only this disaster, but also the even more wretched disaster of 'Anna', the limpy soft ballad for which he didn't even write any melody. It's based on that same 1-2-3-4 pattern as so many generic soul numbers, which means the only two things the band had to think of for the song were the lyrics and the guitar solo, but it has no guitar solo and I could have written better lyrics on a piece of toilet paper during the two or three minutes I need to do my thing, so there's no excuse, Mr 'I left Mott The Hoople because that band was way too intellectual for me'. 'Anna' also firmly institutionalizes the "simple" cliche for Bad Company, in such immortal lines as 'I found a simple woman for a simple man'. Uh-huh. The really important thing, I suppose, is to find the simplest woman for a simple man, one that could be a suitable subject for lines like 'she's there when I need her, she understands when I say go'. Sure thing, pal. So hard to find an understanding bitch these days. You tell them to fuck off and they - they JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND YOU!

Then again, I haven't exactly scaled the walls of Netscape so as to criticize Bad Company for being sexist, which occupation is somewhere along the lines of criticizing Ramesses the Second for using slave labour. Ne'er mind! The adequately good news is that the band ain't really going down, not yet at least. 'Deal With The Preacher' rocks just as hard as ever, and Ralphs exceeds at penning one subtle riff for the song (with one loud distorted and one quiet muffled part, no less!) plus a redhot solo, and even 'Wild Fire Woman', despite a particularly annoying yelp from Mr Rogers, can't spoil the picture because it bounces and rattles around so well. There's a real jittery swing in this tune that I can't resist, you know.

Finally, there's one of the band's best known tunes, 'Shooting Star', a really primitive and really obvious "anti-stardom" anthem about a guy - of course, named Johnny - who hears a rock'n'roll song - of course, it's the Beatles' 'Love Me Do' - becomes a star - of course, a multi-millionnaire one, with dope a-plenty and then dies - of course, of an overdose of various substances. A single change in any single one of these given elements would have irrepairably shattered its fine, well-balanced structure and plunged the world into post-modernist confusion. But you can always rely on Bad Company for full, steady support of the Basics. I should probably hate the song, but something actually makes me appreciate it. Most probably, that cocky assuredness and completely straight face with which they deliver these truths they hold to be evident. A song so normal, so rebelliously normal, even, that it takes but the tiniest of hooks to etch it into your consciousness.

Then again, maybe it's simply that I love Mick Ralphs on here so much? See, the guy really degraded over the years (starting with the very next album, in fact), but at this point he was still capable of doing his schtick. Not everybody can merge acoustic, electric rhythm and electric solo over the course of one song as professionally and almost flawlessly as he can. Then, of course, there's the undeniable - although never really all that unique - charm of Paul's voice.

One thing that's always been bugging me is how, both on here and on the debut, there's so few songs, but all of them are so overlong. Listen attentively (okay, so I know I'm asking for something very undignified here, but you could always stoop even lower - there's late period Rod Stewart, too, for Chrissake!) and you'll see every one of these songs has a long coda, sometimes taking up a whole third of its duration. (In case you have trouble with the word 'coda', in a Bad Company song it's usually the part which is the loudest, has the least musical ideas, and oh, yes, Paul Rogers usually delivers his worst lines in it, too). The question is - was that intentional or just an attempt to cover up the lack of creativity? Because these parts are completely worthless as jams, and there's just something not right when you have to endure listening to 'don't you know that you are a shooting star, don't you know, don't you don't you know, don't you know that you are a shooting star?' for about as many bars as it took the Ramones to record a complete album. (Eventually, it becomes a real pain in the ass when you decide to make your own compilation of the baddest-company tunes.) One thing about this trick is really clever, though: by the time the song is over, you're bound to memorize the chorus, no matter whether it was well-written or not. Not that Bad Company invented this art or anything - but they surely raised it to a level most unprecedented.



Year Of Release: 1976

It's pretty hard work to keep up producing records according to the Bad Company formula if you actually are Bad Company and not, say, the Beatles. Three chord rockers with defiantly simple production and simplistic - bordering on pre-school - lyrics, taken with gravity and thrust upon us in a "sincere" manner, may be all right for one record, maybe two; on Run With The Pack, the formula has become more than stale, it's annoying.

The "dark" acoustic ballad 'Simple Man' is a typical example: three or four acoustic notes repeated over and over, with Paul Rogers repeating the same verse - the exact same verse - for three times in a row, something that might have suited the Ramones, but the Ramones never sang any of their songs with even a hundredth part of the gravity and "heartfelt resonance" that Paul tries to convey. Yes, okay, so he has a voice that's nicely suited for conveying heartfelt resonance, but man oh man, you just gotta hear those lyrics. "I am just a simple man, working with my hands, oh it ain't easy, I am just a simple man, working on the land, oh believe me". Okay, even if we come to acknowledge the idea that being a simple man really ain't all that easy (probably much easier to be a very difficult man), there's still the matter of believing Mr Rogers that he's really been working on his land when in reality, I suspect, he's been boozing around with his groupies. In another world, this will be called "character impersonation"; in this world, it's just a really stupid, really primitive, really repetitive song that takes itself as a powerful anthem when in reality no-one has even bothered writing more than a couple lines of lyrics for it.

And that's pretty typical of the album. An album that gives us the tragic decline of Mick Ralphs as a songwriter; granted, he'd never pretended to have possessed an inexhaustible riff supply like Mr Iommi or Mr Townshend, but still, isn't it kinda fishy that the album's most energetic number, 'Live For The Music', isn't even built on three chords; it displays the triumphant glory of one, thus carrying the reductionism of 'I Can't Explain' to totally absurd heights. And the one chord in question sounds particularly ridiculous when backed by Boz Burrell's disco bass.

But at least there's some grit to the song still, and grit is what saves the album from being an absolute failure; most of the rockers still deliver the goods, even if none of them are as memorable as, uh, 'Feel Like Makin' Love', for instance. 'Honey Child' has a mildly catchy chorus (although the instrumental melody is entirely drowned in distortion and stupid between-the-speakers flashes of guitar overdubbing); the title track again milks the idea of a faster/harder part alternating with a slower/milder part to decent effect, plus the keyboard work on the song merits a couple praises - but was the orchestration really necessary, I'm asking?; and while 'Sweet Lil' Sister' inescapably suffers from being named in a way similar to the far superior ass-kickin' Stones' anthem 'Dance Little Sister', it still manages to preserve the grit and the fire, with more of Burrell's weird disco-influenced basslines and a rhythm guitar that's just alright, you know, a rhythm guitar that crunches along with a fine dry tone but never overshadows the entire band. Only their cover of 'Young Blood' is entirely dispensable - rarely has a cover version been recorded that sounded more stiff, by-the-book and conventional. Get George Harrison's Bangla Desh concert instead, with a live version from Leon Russell that just blows the roof off the Capitol, and forget this tripe.

Unfortunately, by now the boys have decided to counteract each of their rockers with a ballad, and only 'Fade Away' manages to somehow cut it this time, with a little bit more intricately shaped production (added phasing and echoey effects throughout), threatening minor chords from the piano and a moody bluesy solo from Mick. Not a lot to praise, but at least nothing to laugh at; in dire contrast, dreck like 'Love Me Somebody' (with entirely ungrammatical lyrics - is it really possible to say 'but only love me'?) is the same 1-2-3-4 stuff they kept insisting on putting on every one of their albums, and 'Do Right By Your Woman' seems to me an attempt to ape something Free-like around 1969, but a totally wasted one. Okay, so 'Silver Blue & Gold' has a catchy refrain. Does that mean I have to throw my hat in the air and start saving on a mini-Pantheon for these guys?

Not on my life. It's a good thing out of all these songs, only "Simple Man" sounds like it's insulting my sense of dignity for what it's worth - but I sure wish all those anti-hard-rock-biased people who dismiss Budgie and Thin Lizzy as "boring generic Seventies' hard" at least once bothered sitting through something like Run With The Pack, just to get a feeling for what real generic hard is. It also makes me pretty sad when I see a bunch of obviously talented people (well, at least Rogers and Ralphs) throwing away their talent and just going for the sestertius. But then again, maybe they just couldn't help it.



Year Of Release: 1976

Okay, this one isn't even all that pathetic. It's just boring to the extreme. There's no Conventionalism Embodied a la 'Young Blood'; there's no Universal Dumbness Personified a la 'Simple Man'. There's just a bunch of songs that define 'generic', and seems like the more songs they are, the less care the band members actually put into 'em - this time, there's twelve of 'em, and not a single one has anything worthwhile to offer.

First of all, the instrumental work on the album is anti-remarkable, in the sense that you don't really need to have a Mott The Hoople/King Crimson pedigree to play this bland pseudo-rock jello. Not a single riff stands out, not a single solo is produced in an interesting way, and even those poofy disco basslines seem to have vanished or at least solidly faded away into the background. Second, there's almost absolutely nothing they haven't done before (as if I really needed to say that), which makes the faint album gimmicks stand out as the highlights; but you know you're in trouble when the "highlights" of a record turn out to be an out of tune boozy acoustic rendition of 'Valerie Valerah' (here entitled 'Knapsack'), probably fit for something like the Sex Pistols' Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle but not much more, and a seven minute "funk jam" called 'Master Of Ceremony', where Paul Rogers tries playing James Brown or someone like that as he tells the world to live in peace together. Yaw, whatever, bro'r. All I know is your band can't play funk worth shit, or at least has a really kinky understanding of what's funky. (And no pun intended, really - I'm too pissed off to think of puns).

So, I mean, I'd probably take 'Everything I Need' as the best song, just because Paul Rogers' vocal impersonation of Buddy Holly blows so much it's almost turned into goofy genius for me; never mind that the song itself steals the melody from 'Louie Louie' and features lyrics like 'she got something I call soul' (is this the place that served as main inspiration for 'my tits and ass with soul baby', I wonder?). Of course, the song is pretty meek and wimpy, but here's the kick: Burnin' Sky can no longer really be called a 'hard rock' album - by this point, the Eagles rocked much harder than Bad Company. This is soft mid-tempo AOR with just a little bit of distortion put on occasionally to deceive the customer.

Yeah, so the title track sounds heavy, but so does 'Life In The Fast Lane'. By the mid-Seventies, the general population had already overcome its fear of anything even remotely hard; you really had to be the Carpenters not to use a couple crunchy riffs on your next hitmaking record. On here, Bad Company start actually satisfying the tastes of not just the lowest common denominator, but even lower than that. At least Bad Company and Straight Shooter had this gruff, dumb, and eventually rebellious atmosphere about them - perfect music for the average truck driver to vent his frustration to. Burnin' Sky is perfect music for the DJ to throw on when he wants to take a little nap, nothing more.

Still don't believe me? Here's a quick shotgun runthrough over the rest of this "material": 'Morning Sun', a generic mid-tempo acoustic ballad with not a single twist of the vocal melody and a whiff of atmospheric flute to make you shed your daily tear; 'Leaving You', a pale shadow of Rogers' earlier triumphs, a rocker whose only result is making me wonder why the gal did all those things to Rogers and the scum is still leaving her without even saying a direct 'thank you'; 'Like Water', a generic mid-tempo acoustic ballad with not a single twist of the vocal melody and a whiff of atmospheric country guitar to make you shed your daily tear; 'Heartbeat', a pale shadow of Rogers' earlier triumphs, a rocker whose only result is making me wonder what the hell makes it different from 'Honey Child'; and need I continue? I could repeat that formula at least twice, for the rest of the songs.

At least they tried this funky thing, and they refrained from excessive signs of demonstrating their stupidity, but they didn't compensate it with much. This might have something to do with the record being released the same year as its predecessor, and realizing this, the guys took a long long break before the next one; not that it did them any good, though.



Year Of Release: 1979

At least they didn't continue to really mellow out; I must confess I actually like this puppy a wee tiny bit more than its predecessor, although I've certainly seen cases where a three-year break did much more for a particular band than they did for Bad Company. Still, when the slickly processed riff of 'Gone Gone Gone' echoes through my speakers, I can't help but say to myself, hey, this is somewhat similar to the Mick Ralphs of old. Hey, this isn't an entirely charm-free song! Sure it's your basic generic hard-rocker, but it displays a tiny touch of creativity (and catchiness). Likewise, listen to 'Evil Wind' and its two electric guitar parts - you'll have to agree there was nothing of the kind on the previous album.

It's also fun to see how the disco movement has affected Bad Company in a positive manner: they aren't at all willing to embrace the genre in its entirety, but they do borrow the basslines, and so their last smash hit 'Rock'n'Roll Fantasy' certainly deserves a couple thumbs up in the "take the generic rocker, cross it with generic disco and enjoy the results" department, not to mention that the thud-thud of electronic drums in between the verses and those crazy, almost Cars-like synthesizer patterns, show the boys hadn't been entirely negative towards all the New Wave achievements as well. Likewise, while 'Rhythm Machine' doesn't actually deserve any positive remarks at all as to what concerns the melody, I kinda fall for its rock-disco groove - slick, yet rough and gritty at the same time, and the slide guitar overdubs aren't terrible. Not at all!

Unfortunately, this is where Bad Company's creative growth begins and ends; every other song is just basic Bad Company of the Burnin' Sky caliber. (Well, okay, so they just didn't want all the rednecks in their following condemning them for "selling out" to the trendy Wavey jerks. Sure! I understand! No grudges whatsoever! Rock'n'roll will never die, not with Paul Rogers there headlining the MOR Preservation Society!) No direct offenders like 'Simple Man' (unless the 'oh I love you cuz I want to!' chorus of 'Early In The Morning' counts), no highlights whatsoever either. The acoustic sound of ballads like 'Crazy Circles' and the already mentioned 'Early In The Morning' is kinda nice and thoroughly unpretentious, with no stupid string overdubs or, well, anything that would make the band appear sappy, but unfortunately, the melodies seem like they'd been extracted from contemporary Eagles records and well dried in the sun, losing about two thirds of the chord changes in the process. The fans of Paul Rogers won't really mind this, of course; the man is in top form, and tries his best to make his singing as subtle, sexy and "heartfelt" as possible - hey, I'd be at a complete loss trying to understand what it is apart from Paul's singing in a primitive, underarranged, underproduced, bland ballad like 'She Brings Me Love' that would ever serve as an urge to GET this record.

And not even the "better" rockers like the two I brought up at the beginning of the review can, of course, bring the enjoyability bar of the album high enough to compensate for the yawn-inducing barroom banality of 'Lonely For Your Love' or country-rock formulaicness of 'Oh Atlanta' (is it just me, or is Rogers' intonation in the 'on my way back to Georgia!' line seriously hicky? Hey, I'm not biting, if I'm alone on that one, I'll drop the charges. It just seems to me he's overdoing his schtick a bit trying to sound like an overdriven hillbilly).

Seriously now, then, Desolation Angels just marks the final stagnation. It also marks the end of the band as a huge commercial force; 'Rock'n'Roll Fantasy' somehow managed to excite both the former fans (RAWKS, man!) and the newer generation (ooh! electronic drums!), but there was no question of Bad Company reinventing themselves as New Generation rockers, anyway, and by 1979, the radio waves were all but ready to give way to dance music and synth-pop, so that the band would find itself relegated to "oldies" pretty soon. No wonder Paul Rogers left after the next album - I mean, who wants to stay in a shitty band if you can't even make a decent living? After all, buddy, he's just a simple man, working on the land, and you know it ain't easy.



Year Of Release: 1982

It's nine p.m. on my home computer, more or less exact... for some strange reason, the computer at my office is always twenty minutes too early, no matter how much I reset the timer. Every time it restarts, it sets the time twenty minutes back. I'm guessing this could have something to do with the fact that it's a Sun station magically reworked into a PC, which is very inconvenient because it keeps freezing whenever I use Internet Explorer way too much. It's pretty dumb when you have to restart your computer every few hours and you know you have to do this, it doesn't come to you as a surprise or shock or everything.

Not that I like Internet Explorer a lot. I'm a Netscape man myself, and actually I find Netscape 3.0 an ideal vehicle for editing reviews and other kinds of stuff - simple, without any stupid gimmicks, and you don't have to type in ".htm" every time you have to open a file. It's the kind of occasion when I keep wishing the friggin' progress would finally stop and leave everything as it is. I don't exactly share the Eastern denunciation of progress as a whole, because without progress we wouldn't have Netscape 3.0. On the other hand, without progress we wouldn't have as much cultural exchange as we do nowadays and I wouldn't have to suffer from being constantly subjected to New Mexican food while here in Santa Fe. I'm pretty sure New Mexican food is delicious, but not for my weak and overtly sensitive stomach. For some reason, I find subjecting myself to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal a less painful process than consuming my lunches.

Of course, speaking of heavy metal, I've always wondered how the heck can all these metalheads write their provocative lyrics and then, when pressed with their backs to the wall to denounce them, say 'hey, can't you people see they're ironic? We're not promoting these things!' Ironic my ass. They're certainly not trying to provoke these things, but why not just state the obvious truth, you know - that the lyrical/performance atmosphere is there to let people vent their frustrations and exorcise their demons in a way that doesn't hurt anybody? What, are they afraid to admit the truth? Not that I'm speaking for all of these people, because the actual attitudes can be different, but this is how it goes very often.

Strange, I think I got a headache coming. I've had very few of these in Santa Fe, where the climate is considered as one of the healthiest in the States, according to what some people have been telling me. Ironically, we're pretty close to Los Alamos here, but I guess since there are more hairy than bald people out here, that's no big problem. Whatever. Headaches are a real chore, and they tend to really muddle up your writing style, so it's nice I'm still holding up - you could say 'I'm still standing', to paraphrase Elton John whose video for 'This Train Won't Stop' I've already seen on VH1 about 5,6875 times and it's pretty cute how he managed to present himself in exactly the same image as he was projecting, say, twenty-five years ago, unless, of course, he filmed all these sequences twenty-five years ago (and the song too? that would explain why it is so reminiscent of his old style!) and held them up for release to create a sensation, but then when you see him at any of his average concerts nowadays, he's just as washed up as ever. The voice is still good.

But why the heck do VH1 have so few different programs of their own? You know who they keep demonstrating all the time? Cher. C-H-E-R. It's almost as if she owned the goddamn channel. I now know more about Cher than I ever cared to know about Pamela Anderson. Do you think that when I get around to reviewing Motley Crue, I'll keep inserting Pamela references throughout? Probably not, I'm not Mark Prindle and I'm not an expert for those kind of jokes. In fact, I don't joke around all that much, I'm a pretty grim guy. This is probably why I haven't yet reviewed Neil Hamburger. Or REO Speedwagon, for that matter.

On the positive side, when you joke too much, you occasionally just don't know where to stop - this is why so many people actually do take Mark Prindle for a joke when he's anything but one. I guess some day somebody will want to review Prindle's reviews, subjecting them to deep psychological/psycholinguistic analysis, and then the world will finally learn to separate the grain from the chaff. On the other hand, one has to be pretty open-minded about that, and it's goddamn hard to be open-minded. Not when you're sitting here typing in a Bad Company review on a laptop computer with a headache coming up. Well, at least I've managed to come up with some half-decent ideas, so you can't say the effort was totally wasted.

Oh, by the way, that's some mighty fine Chuck Berry licks Mick Ralphs plays out there on 'Ballad Of The Band'. Too bad Chuck Berry himself did them better, and every single other song on this album is the exact musical equivalent of an odoriferous congeries of radioactive porcupine defecation. I could expand on that possibly, but not now. Like I said, I have a headache coming up.



Year Of Release: 1986

Well, at the very least Bad Company did not betray their fans. Paul Rodgers is out of the band, new lead singer Brian Howe (who generally sounds like he's Lou Gramm's younger, less experienced brother) is in, and the band wisely assumes that all the "trendy" electronic crap on top of the charts in 1986 will go out of the window in, like, ten years time. So? They bravely carry on, putting forward yet another piece of generic, totally predictable, totally recycled, and totally moronic Seventies-style arena-rock. And come up with one of the worst records of 1986! Maybe they should have taken some electronica lessons after all.

You know, the very idea that there are people out there who probably think that this album is "beautiful" and - God forbid - actually shed tears at Brian Howe chanting 'this love will last us forever, this love is gonna stay true!' makes me turn upside down. Yet somebody must have bought this record back when it was released, and somebody probably must be buying it still. Aren't you terrified, too?

Now you know what? Some of the songs on here aren't too bad. Or, rather, they could be somewhat decent. It would certainly take some effort to transform Fame And Fortune from crap fodder to an above-average record, though, but on some metaphysical level, it would be possible. The following requirements would be necessary to achieve the level of decency:

(a) change the guitar tone on about half of the songs, so that the instrument, instead of sounding like every similar pathetically tuned pseudo-metal Trevor Rabin-like noise generator, would sound like a truly edgy, awe-inspiring monster of a six-string;

(b) kick the lead singer in the balls, and if that wouldn't produce the desired effect, just fire him on the spot and hire Ronnie James Dio instead, or, better yet, get the rest of the band members to sing lead vocals themselves;

(c) entirely rewrite the lyrics and change all the song titles (so that 'That Girl' would become 'Fat Girl', for instance, and feature a subtly satirical attack on overweight people, thus channelling the anger of the PMRC and getting the band some extra press); better still, rewrite them in Japanese and feature Damo Suzuki as guest lead vocalist on at least a few, so that we wouldn't have that problem at all;

(d) do a little investigation on the history of synthesizer development and actually discover that playing cheesy Seventies' synthesizers in the middle of the Eighties is just as bad as playing cheesy Eighties' synthesizers, but is also anachronistic and ridiculous in addition to all the pain;

(e) release the album with a sticker saying 'ARCHIVE RELEASE' and call a big press-conference to try to convince everybody that this is, in fact, a collection of recently improved demos and outtakes from the very first Bad Company recording session - so that people would still be calling this stuff shit, but at least they'd have a reasonable excuse for it actually existing;

(f) committing collective seppuku on the last day of the supporting tour so that the album's deep emotionality would be forever associated with the tragic and oh so untimely demise of the band's crucial members, thus jotting up the record's overall value;

(g) adding "Will Be Yours When You Buy Ten Copies Of This Record" below the album title, because we all know Bad Company fans can fall for anything.

Were all, or at least half, of these requirements fulfilled, I would have given the album two and a half stars, because you know what? there's really some melodic potential on some of the songs. 'Valerie', 'Burning Up', and especially the album closer, 'If I'm Sleeping', simply waste their hooks into thin air, all due to that sordid idiot's vocal delivery - geez, it's like he's singing Quadrophenia-level material or something. But, of course, even these moderately tolerable songs immediately get forgotten when we have to deal with wretched power ballads like 'When We Made Love'. For Hollywood's sake, these guys can't even decently deliver a power ballad! They don't have enough power! Somebody inject some fuel!

Thus, with two consecutive archimoronic albums in a row, Bad Company successfully qualify for the status of "Most Dumbass Album Stretch To Ever Exist", narrowly beating out such worthy concurrents as KISS and Rod Stewart. Blessed are you the innocent music lover who's never had the pitiful fate of having to listen to records like these.



Year Of Release: 1988

You see now, the difference between a horrible rock and roll album and a mediocre rock and roll album isn't really that big. It's kinda like the difference between stale bread in your cupboard that you just have to eat up because you're either too lazy to throw it away or to go and buy some more, on one hand, and that other stale bread in your cupboard that you probably would like to eat but already cannot on a pure physiological basis.

So after the smash flop of Fame And Fortune, Bad Company reconvened and put out this thing and it looks like for a little while they've learned their lesson. For one thing, the crunchy guitars are back, and on some tracks they actually have more crunch than this band ever had! That lead vocal guy still sounds like he's an inferior copy of Lou Gramm, unfortunately, but musically, they seem to be taking their lessons from the contemporary hair-pop-metal scene instead. Oh sure, 'tis definitely not the best scene to be taking lessons from, but if I have to choose between Foreigner and Motley Crue, I'll probably end up with the latter anyway. At least they're not pretending to be doing "high art", and their music kicks more ass than Foreigner's. Flimsy criteria for sure, but works for me.

Anyway, Dangerous Age is annoyingly derivative, and none of the riffs are great, but at least there are riffs. So this is just a normal, not-overdoing-it cock-rock record from the late Eighties. The sole ballad, stuck in the midst of Side 2, is about as great as every other Bad Company ballad - or Poison ballad, or Bon Jovi ballad - of the period, but the funny thing is that it's really the sole ballad. Well, in some ways 'The Way That It Goes' and 'No Smoke Without A Fire' approach it in overblown sentimentality, but they're more like slow rock songs that suck in reality.

Which leaves us with eight gritty rockers, and believe me, they are gritty. Mick Ralphs is at it again, carefully selecting his guitar tones so that this album could never be not classified as "hard rock", and trying to remember what it is about a riff that can make it stand out and stick in your head, occasionally. Too bad they still can't get it that the song choruses just do not need to be slicker than a whore's fingernail in order to be enjoyable. No, they will stick in a few bloated power chords and even more bloated choral singing, probably to make you feel that little thing called "spiritual uplift" or something. Once and for all - you just do not get spiritual uplift from a cock-rocker. It is not possible. And if you do get spiritual uplift from a cock-rocker, I suppose you just don't get laid too often, and that's not really spiritual uplift anyway. Rather it's... uh... well you get my meaning, I guess.

So a thing like 'One Night' opens up all Zeppelinish and strutty and gritty and whoahoah, and then you get that 'one night ain't no love affair!' kind of thing. Yeah, right. The guy just has to get some, it ain't a love affair, you understand. If it were a love affair, the matter wouldn't be so romantic and elevated. 'One night with you anywhere, heaven knows what we can do' - uh, I'm not heaven, and even I know what you can (and will!) do. The choice isn't as unlimited as it looks to you, Mr Howe. Then again, I've just stepped onto the narrow path of criticizing cock-rock lyrics, which is a pretty cheap way of taking shots at this kind of music. But on the other hand, what am I supposed to do? Write a PhD on the innovative musical qualities of 'Shake It Up' or 'Rock Of America'? (Which, by the way, features yet another magnificent chorus - 'I wanna ROCK! The ROCK OF AMERICA!' - leaving the listener a bit befuddled as to what exactly the lead singer is desiring, a musical genre or a piece of granite).

The best songs on the album are probably the title track, which is really just a piece of Fifties'-style boogie technically updated for the heavy metal age; the slightly AC/DC-esque 'Love Attack', which would definitely have been better with a Brian Johnson delivery; and the last number, 'Excited', which even features some of that "echoey" Gilmour/The Edge-like guitar in the intro (ooh! experimentation!). The choruses all kinda suck still, so the best thing for you is to edit all of them out, splice the three songs together, and get yourself a complex polyphonic prog-cock-rocker called 'Excited By The Love Attack On A Dangerous Age'. Queensryche and Dream Theater, eat yer hearts out!

But truthfully, I am a bit surprised that this album turned out as well as it did. See - all it takes is a bit of grit.


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