Monday, April 4, 2011

In The Beginning: Bad Company - Bad Company

I've been working my way through some classic albums by classic bands; Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rainbow, AC/DC, mixing them in with some more contemporary artists. I eventually came to Bad Company, and quickly to their debut album. Listening to it just reminded me how great of an album it was, how much talent was with the band (at least the first incarnation) and just how long ago it was that they got together. Seemed like a perfect match for a 'In The Beginning.'

Bad Company, while not the first true supergroup, may have been the first one to make it big within popular media. I'm not including acts like Led Zeppelin or anything, because while technically they were a supergroup, it was more of an evolution from The Yardbirds. Bad Company was a 'true' supergroup, with a group of musicians coming from established and substantial bands (Free, King Crimson, and Mott The Hoople), with the intent of putting out some new music. That is the line I'm drawing, feel free to make your own claims to what it is to be a supergroup.

Anyway, Bad Company's self-titled debut was an instant classic and hit, being one of the most popular releases of the 70s, carried by its major singles "Can't Get Enough" and "Movin' On" and other radio main-stays, "Rock Steady," "Bad Company," and "Ready for Love." These were stadium rock songs, perhaps some of the most well-known of the era (I think Queen beats them out, but they were closer to the end of the decade). With several still popping up within movies, TV shows, and of course classic rock radio.

After re-listening to the album, I'm kind of surprised of how much of this album is dedicated to love songs. Over half of the tracks (probably more, but I wasn't keeping track while I was listening) are about love, either falling in and out of it, or dealing/living with it. It's not really a complaint, just strikes me as a little odd coming from an album whose title-track is about being a mid-western outlaw, doing as he pleases. This is a very distant dichotomy within the album, but an observation only. It doesn't take away from the album as a whole.

The big tracks were and are massive; "Can't Get Enough" and "Ready for Love" are heard in pretty much every 70s-era movie at one point or another, cementing its position within all of out minds - especially for those who didn't grow up (or remember) the 70s. My favorite track, and one I'm really surprised was never released as a single, is the title track ("Bad Company" if you don't understand). As I mentioned before, its a cowboy/western song of an outlaw/rebel living life as he sees fit. What's great (besides the lyrics) is the evolution of the song; with the verses containing an almost non-existent guitar and drum tune, relying on the vocals almost 100%, and then at the chorus the whole band jumps in for this powerful moment, while Paul Rodgers (the singer) blares out "That's why they call me, Bad Company." It's a crescendo leading to the climax, and it gets me going at each passage.
Besides these amazing tracks, and a couple of decent follow-ups, there isn't much more to say about the album. It's not chock-full of genius songs, but the ones it has really carry the entire project miles. This was Bad Company's claim to fame, and although they would release a couple more good albums, with a handful more of classic rock standards (mostly the follow-up album, Straight Shooter, and the songs "Feel Like Makin' Love" and "Shooting Star"), they would never re-create the genius and fame that came off of this debut. But, if you can choose which album was going to be your best, it being the first isn't a bad way to go.

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