Artist: Bad Company
Album: Bad Company & Straight Shooter
Label: Rhino/Swan Song
Release Date: 04/07/2015
As super groups go, Bad Company was pretty formidable. Made up of members of Free, Mott the Hoople and King Crimson, the band represented the prime components of British rock in the early ‘70s, while managing to form an effective hybrid in the process. In truth, Bad Company served simply as a newer incarnation of Free’s blustery, bluesy rock, albeit with more commercial leanings. With two of its four members having served in Free’s prime line-up–specifically, singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke–it was inevitable that the edgier aspects of their sound would emulate the same template.
That said, Bad Company achieved a fame and notoriety that eluded the each of the earlier ensembles. They boasted a string of hits and became a major concert draw, thanks in part to their allegiance with Swan Song Records, the label that manager Peter Grant formed for his primary charges, Led Zeppelin. Consequently, the group’s first two albums set the standard for all that followed, boasting FM staples like “Can’t Get Enough,” “Ready for Love,” “Rock Steady” and their de facto theme song “Bad Company” (from their eponymous debut), and “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad,” “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and “Shooting Star” (which appeared on the follow-up, Straight Shooter). While other efforts would achieve similar success in the years that followed, these two albums are the efforts that created the template and set their high bar.
The re-release of these two classic collections seemed somehow inevitable, due to the retreatment that’s been accorded the Zeppelin catalogue. Each bears a wealth of demos and rarities, although the alternate versions of the songs included on the original albums often vary little from the well-known incarnations. Nevertheless, the subtle differences found in alternate takes of “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad,” “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” “Can’t Get Enough” and a handful of others should give completists and enthusiasts reason enough to substitute these expanded versions for their well-worn vinyl. Likewise, the various B sides and occasional unreleased song consolidates the band’s early output in a pair of convenient packages. With 40 years of retrospect, it’s a Bad Company that we’d still want to keep.
– Lee Zimmerman