When we talk about triumphant rock debuts, the conversation should start with a few artists, including The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Boston, Van Halen, even Guns N’ Roses. Another band that most certainly deserves to be mentioned along with the big names is Bad Company. Their glorious 1974 debut achieved much more than critical and commercial success; the self-titled album of the supergroup brought good old-fashioned rock&roll back into the music scene. Filled with catchy straightforward classics, “Bad Company” is the perfect example of album oriented blues rock, showcasing the band’s biggest selling point – their moody but quite soulful signature sound.
In 1973 vocalist Paul Rodgers (Free), guitarist Mick Ralphs (Mott The Hoople), bassist Boz Burrelll (King Crimson) and drummer Simon Kirke (Free) teamed up to form one of the most gifted (at least in my opinion) British hard rock supergroups – Bad Company. One year later, their debut album became the first ever album to come out of Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label. The record was an instant success, showcasing excellent musicianship and a brilliant formula, which they followed through the rest of the ‘70s.
The debut album topped the US Billboard chart, spent 25 weeks on the UK Albums Chart and spawned three timeless hit singles. Fans, critics – everyone was giving it their stamp of approval. The music scene in the early 70s was drowning in flamboyancy and experimentalism – nothing wrong with that of course. Among the dazzling theatrics and extravagant musical innovations, “Bad Company” was the much needed “back to the roots” record. Unpretentious, quite simple even, the debut album creates the perfect bluesy, soulful, working class rock&roll atmosphere.
Bad Company’s secret weapon was the strong songwriting collaboration between vocalist Paul Rodgers and blues-based guitarist Mick Ralphs, both shining as bright as the Sun on the self-titled effort. Loaded with classic rock staples like “Can’t Get Enough”, “Rock Steady” and “Ready for Love”, the record was destined for success. Interestingly, even the more dynamic songs on “Bad Company” are fueled with a sense of danger, under an umbrella of gloom. That’s definitely the ultimate charm of the band and ultimately the record itself – moody but instantly captivating. I have always found an immense attachment to “Ready for Love” (original by Mott the Hoople). Paul Rodgers’ vocals absolutely did it for me – with his sensual, quite erotic even performance, he simply immortalized it. The title track is another high point from the record – I have never witnessed such a brilliant synergy between piano and rock&roll. Not to mention the intriguing theme of the song – a band of fugitives and “rebel souls” that carry nothing but trouble with them! Sounds like a good soundtrack, doesn’t it?
If you want to get into Bad Company, this is the record you should start with. Play it as loud as possible if you want to experience the ageless magic of pure hard solid rock&roll. This album (along with a couple of more, of course) defined the mid-70s and for that it truly deserves to be appreciated. “Bad Company” is a historically relevant debut and nothing can take that away from it. Hope you guys got reminded of this classic and will go play it now!