Bad Company/Straight Shooter
British blues-rock band Bad Company is a supergroup, borne from ex-members of then popular bands who left their groups–Free (vocalist Paul Rodgers, drummer Simon Kirke), Mott The Hoople (guitarist Mick Ralphs), King Crimson (bassist Boz Burrell)–at the height of their individual successes. Bad Company was not as hard blues as Free, not as glam as Mott the Hoople, and not as progressive as King Crimson, but the combination worked, with international acclaim and success coming almost instantaneously. Forty years after they delivered the one-two punch of two fantastic albums, both records see a deluxe, expanded reissue, including bonus discs featuring outtakes, b-sides, alternate versions, and unreleased numbers.
Bad Company, released in the summer of 1974, is a powerhouse of a record, eight songs in less than thirty-five minutes. It is a succinct declaration of the band’s talents. The writing collaboration between Rodgers and Ralphs instantly produced timeless songs. “Can’t Get Enough” was a top ten song then, and since then, it has never budged from hard rock playlists. Neither have “Bad Company” and “Ready For Love” (a cover of a Mott The Hoople written by Ralphs), though both songs were never officially released as singles. “Movin’ On,” also a single, didn’t fare as well on the charts, but it’s a quality number as well. Equally superb are the album cuts, especially the closing “Seagull,” a fine, tender ballad and metaphor for life.
The extras found on Bad Company are interesting, though not particularly essential or groundbreaking. There’s a lot of repetition among them–understandable, as this was a rather new band–and so there’s little variation in sound and style, while multiple takes of “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love” and “Bad Company,” though the two versions of the title track are definitely rawer and a tad more intense than the finished version. Better are the included b-sides; “Little Miss Fortune” could have easily bested its flipside partner, while “Easy On My Soul,” is a cover of a Free album cut. The one unreleased track, “Superstar Woman,” was cut off the album for the sake of symmetry, although it’s not a bad number.
Following quickly in April 1975, Straight Shooter repeated the Bad Company formula, and once again the results were equally fantastic. Side one of the album is a near-perfect slice of rock and roll; the one-two punch of the blues-rock “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” and oddly Southern Rock ballad “Feel Like Makin’ Love” draws one in with an impressive display of the band’s range. “Weep No More,” written by drummer Simon Kirke, is merely okay, but it doesn’t take anything away from the songs that preceded it. It would be impossible to take anything away from the side’s closing number, “Shooting Star,” an elegy to dead rock stars and those who sacrifice everything for the fleeting glory of fame that would also be a signature radio staple, even though it wasn’t actually released as a single. Side two offers some excellent rockers, with the boogie-woogie jump of “Deal With The Preacher,” and “Wild Fire Woman,” while the ballad “Call On Me” is one of Rodgers’ finest moments.
Much like the Bad Company extras, most of the goodies found here are of the demo and alternate take variety. Most of the disc is dedicated to offering an alternate version of Straight Shooter, and aren’t radically different from the finished product.Two unreleased tracks, “See The Sunlight” and “All Night Long,” are equally as good as the numbers found on the album, but one can understand how they might be a bit too formulaic.
Bad Company’s first two records are two albums that masterfully document a band on the rise, both talent-wise and creativity-wise. They would go on to become one of the more successful rock bands of the decade, and though they have a long, storied, and often complicated back story, the fact remains: these two albums are top-notch platters of fine, fine frock and roll. These two reissues do the album justice, and while the bonus material is hit or miss, the main attractions have lost none of their fire.