45 Years Ago In 1974 Bad Company Released Bad Company.

When Free split-up in for the second and final time in 1973, vocalist Paul Rodger and drummer Simon Kirke joined the latest rock supergroup Bad Company. Completing Bad Company’s lineup, were Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs and bassist Boz Burrell. They would become part of the most successful supergroup of the seventies.

From their 1974 debut album Bad Company, right through to 1979s Desolation Angels, Bad Company were one of the biggest selling bands on both sides of the Atlantic. In Britain and America, Bad Company could do now wrong. Three of their five albums were certified gold in Britain. Across the Atlantic, Bad Company enjoyed four multi-platinum albums. They sold an estimated 13.5 million albums. This meant Bad Company were shoulders with the biggest, and most successful supergroups of the late-sixties and early seventies. The album that started this run of commercial success and critical acclaim, is Bad Company

Before long, Bad Company were signed to Led Zeppelin’s newly formed Swan Song label. Soon, they had acquired a manager, and this was Led Zeppelin’s manager, Peter Grant. He would guide Bad Company through the most successful period of their career. It began in November 1973.

That’s when Bad Company began recording their eponymous debut album. Recording began in November 1973, when Ronnie Lane’s mobile recording studio became available. This came about purely by chance.

Having released their fifth album in February 1973, Led Zeppelin were due to return to the studio in November 1973. So, they had hired Ronnie Lane’s mobile recording studio, which Led Zeppelin had sent to Headley Grange. However,  things didn’t go well. The recording session ground to a halt, and Bad Company who were about to record their eponymous debut album, used the studio time.

At Headley Grange, Bad Company would record the eight tracks that became their debut album Bad Company. Each of the eight tracks were written by members of the band. Drummer Mick Ralphs wrote Can’t Get Enough, Movin’ On and Ready for Love, which Mott The Hoople had already recorded. Mick and Paul Rodgers cowrote Don’t Let Me Down and Seagull. Vocalist Paul Rodgers contributed Rock Steady and The Way I Choose. He also cowrote Bad Company with drummer Simon Kirke. These eight tracks were recorded by Bad Company during November 1973.

Using Ronnie Lane’s mobile recording studio, Bad Company began recording and producing their debut album at Headley Grange. Vocalist Paul Rodger played rhythm guitar on Can’t Get Enough, piano on Bad Company and Don’t Let Me Down. He also played all instruments on Seagull. Bad Company’s rhythm section featured drummer Simon Kirke, bassist Boz Burrell and guitarist Mick Ralph. Augmenting Bad Company, were saxophonist Mel Collins, and backing vocalists Sue Glover and Sunny Leslie. They feature on Don’t Let Me Down. By the end of November 1973, Bad Company was completed. It would prove to be one of the most successful debut albums of the early seventies.

Before Bad Company was released, the critics had their say. They were won over by Bad Company’s spartan, stripped back brand of rock. There were no dissenting voices, just critically acclaimed reviews of Bad Company. Things were looking good for Bad Company.

Can’t Get Enough was chosen as the lead single from Bad Company. It reached number fifteen in Britain, number three in Canada and number five in the US Billboard 100. Then when Bad Company was released on June 26th 1974, it reached number three in Britain, number seven in Canada and number one in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in Bad Company being certified gold in Britain and five times platinum in America. The second single from Bad Company was Movin’ On, which reached number thirty in Canada and number seventeen in the US Billboard 100. Bad Company, the third and final single released from Bad Company failed to chart. However, Bad Company, which I’ll tell you about, was one of the biggest selling albums of 1974. It was also just the start of the rise and rise of Bad Company.

Opening Bad Company is the classic, lead single Can’t Get Enough. Drummer Simon Kirke counts Bad Company, before the rhythm section and bursts of scorching guitars sets the scene for Paul’s needy, hopeful vocal. Soon, a fist-pumping, future rock classic is unfolding. It’s apparent the four members of Bad Company are talented and experienced musicians. They never miss a beat, as they fuse rock and blues. Later, guitarist Mick Ralph delivers a guitar masterclass. This inspires Paul. He goes on to deliver a swaggering, powerhouse of a vocal on this classic rock anthem.

Rock Steady was penned by Paul Rodgers. Bursts of rocky licks are unleashed, before Bad Company’s rhythm section enter. They join Mick Ralph’s guitar, providing the backdrop for Paul’s vocal. His vocal veers between soulful and thoughtful, to powerful, and bluesy. Backing vocalists accompany him, adding further bursts of backing soulfulness. Soon, though, Bad Company are ready to kick loose. That’s the signal for Paul’s vocal to drop out. The rest of Bad Company jam, allowing the opportunity to showcase their considerable talents. They’re at their rocky best. As the rhythm section lay down a rocky groove, guitarist Mick Ralph unleashes searing, crystalline licks. When Paul returns, again, he’s a man inspired. He struts, whoops and hollers his way through the rest of Rock Steady, as Bad Company look set to join supergroup royalty.

Originally, Mick Ralphs wrote Ready For Love for Mott The Hoople, his former band. They recorded it. This didn’t stop Mick’s new band reworking the track. Some saw this as a brave move, as there would be the inevitable comparisons. Bad Company stay true to the original. It’s a case of dropping the tempo, and turning Ready For Love into a thoughtful ballad. Paul delivers a pensive, pleading vocal and plays piano. Cooing harmonies sweep above the arrangement. Meanwhile, the rest of Bad Company seem to play within themselves. They take care not to overpower Paul’s vocal or piano. The piano plays in important part in the song. Especially during the breakdown, where piano carries the melody. Then when Paul’s vocal returns, Bad Company threaten to kick loose. However, they never do, allowing the listener to hear another side to Bad Company during this beautiful ballad.

Slowly, and dramatically, Don’t Let Me Down unfolds. Guitar riffs, drums rolls and subtle bursts of piano accompany Paul’s probing, questioning vocal. He pleads “Don’t Let Me Down,” laying bare his soul for all to hear. Meanwhile, cooing, sweeping, gospel tinged harmonies join searing guitars, piano and sultry saxophone. Then when the saxophone drops out, guitarist Mick Ralph unleashes one of his best solos. This inspires the rest of Bad Company on this fusion of rock, soul and gospel harmonies.

Hesitantly and gently, Bad Company begins to unfold. Paul’s vocal is tender, as he remembers his younger days. Meanwhile, a piano plays and the rhythm section play within themselves. That’s until Paul delivers the lyric: “that’s what they call me Bad Company.” That proves the signal for Bad Company to cut loose. This they do briefly, before returning to the understated sound. From there, they veer between the understated and rocky sound. In doing so, Bad Company enjoy the opportunity to showcase their versatility

The Way I Choose has an understated, thoughtful sound. As the rhythm section play slowly and subtly, a chiming, crystalline guitar accompanies Paul’s vocal. It’sfull of emotion. One minute he sings: “I don’t need nobody,” the next, “I only love you baby.” No wonder. His partner isn’t sure. Paul pleads; “answer my question, don’t say goodbye,” on this soul-baring paean.

After the balladry of The Way I Choose, Bad Company turn to good time rock on Movin’ On. From the opening bars, it’s apparent why it was chosen as a single. Hooks haven’t been rationed, on this rocky anthem. Bad Company combine the rhythm section and blistering guitars. They provide the backdrop for Paul’s strutting vocal. As he sings about life as a rock star on the road, harmonies are added. They’re the perfect foil for Paul’s vocal. Then when his vocal drops out, guitarist Mick Ralph delivers a blistering, searing solo. It’s one of his best. It drives Paul and the rest of Bad Company to greater heights on this rocky anthem.

Seagull closes Bad Company and disc one of the Deluxe Edition. It’s another understated song. Mostly, it’s just Paul’s vocal and his guitar. As he strums his acoustic guitar, Paul wistfully delivers the lyrics. He’s very different from the swaggering, strutting rocker on Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love and Movin’ On. That’s no bad thing. It shows that Bad Company weren’t one trick ponies, never would be. Instead, they were and most successful bands of the seventies.

Right through until 1979s Desolation Angels, Bad Company’s fifth album, they were one of the biggest selling bands on both sides of the Atlantic. In Britain and America, Bad Company, it seemed, could do now wrong. Three of their five albums were certified gold in Britain. Across the Atlantic, Bad Company enjoyed four multi-platinum albums. In America alone, Bad Company sold an estimated 13.5 million albums. The album that started the rise and rise of Bad Company, was their 1974 eponymous album, Bad Company.

With its mixture of rocky tracks and ballads, Bad Company caught the imagination of the record buying public. Across Europe, North America, Australasia and Britain, Bad Company were the latest supergroup to become part of rock royalty. They were at the top for five years, right through until 1979. After that, the hits dried up for six years.

By then, Paul Rodgers had left Bad Company. He left in 1982, and played a huge part in Bad Company’s success. The former Free vocalist struck gold with his second band, Bad Company. However, Bad Company weren’t a one man band.

Far from it. Each of the four members of Bad Company player their part in the band’s success. That was the case on their debut album Bad Company, which was recently released as a Deluxe Edition by Rhino. The rhythm section of bassist Boz Burrell and drummer Simon Kirke provided Bad Company’s rocky heartbeat. Guitarist Mick Ralphs unleashed a series of blistering, scorching and crystalline solos. Adding the final piece to the jigsaw, was Paul Rodger’s vocal. It veered between needy and hopeful, to a strutting, swaggering powerhouse. Together, the four members of Bad Company became an unstoppable musical juggernaut.

From 1974, right through to 1979, Bad Company were rubbing shoulders with the great and good of rock music. They were one of the most successful British rock bands, and also, one of the most successful rock supergroups. While some supergroups released just a couple of albums, Bad Company enjoyed an unenviable longevity. Their recording career lasted twenty-two years and twelve albums. However, Bad Company’s most successful album was their 1974 eponymous debut, Bad Company which forty-one years later, is regarded as a classic album.

45 Years Ago In 1974 Bad Company Released Bad Company.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: