HM’s Look at Bad Company

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There is a euphemistic sports cliché mostly employed by hack boxing commentators or tiresome retired tennis players doing colour commentary when an older competitor is being bested by someone younger; it says, “age serves youth.”They usually add something about legs, stamina, and the beating the body takes over time. Basically, it's a bastardization of the universal observation Herman Hesse so eloquently made in one of his poems, “Like every blossom fades and every youth gives way to old age....” For the most part it's a lie; until you hit the extremes of the curve, power and money are associated with age and maturity. In team sports, maturity, and your team mates tell you when to quit. Individual sports, just like rock and roll, are a little bit different and some people are just stubborn.

Some Generations

When Alan Ginsberg stated “the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,”he wasn't joking or trying to be clever; he was expressing the frustrated fury of youth. And it rises afresh with every the post WWI ruins of the lost generation, T.S. Eliot gently spoke of measuring “out [his] life with coffee spoons.” For guys like me, in the early 70's we used black-bottomed spoons. Age didn't serve youth—but, for the prudent, you best stay the hell out of the way.

In 1974 when Bad Company released its eponymous LP in simple, bold white lettering on a jet background. If the meaning wasn't clear then the lyrics in the title song were definitive:

“A company,

Always on the run.

A destiny,

Towards the rising sun.

I was born six-gun in my hand,

Behind a gun, I'll make my final stand.

That's why they call me...

Bad Company. I can't deny,

Bad Company, until the day I die. until the day I die. until the day I die...


Rebel souls. Deserters we've been called,

Chose a gun and threw away the sun.

Now these towns, they all know our name.

Six gun sound is our claim to fame.

I can hear them say...

Bad Company, and I won't deny.

Bad. Bad Company, until the day I die.”


More than a statement, it was a motto to live by. However, there was a ruse running beneath all this macho braggadocio. Bad Company was a Super-Group. The of those horrible 60s’ inventions which probably seemed like a good idea at the time but invariably became bloated with greed, and inflated with gaseous egos doomed to a Hindenburg prognostication...the much ballyhooed quick rise culminating in a massive flame-out, think Blind Faith, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and(god help us) ASIA, and The Power Station. How do you spell Bombast? Face it, the last time a Zeppelin sailed successfully it was led by Plant & Page.


At least Bad Company came by it honestly. Paul Rogers and Simon Kirke came out of the blusiest of British blues-rock bands, Free. Paul Kossoff, Free guitarist, was in free-fall from all the holes he had put in his body with a heroin spike. It would kill him within a couple of years of Free dissolving. B.C. guitarist, Mick Ralphs came out of Mott The Hoople, who were at the zenith of their careers, but Ralphs couldn't take making up his eyes and showering in glitter anymore...he wanted to fucking rock! Boz Burrell had replaced Greg Lake as the bassist in King Crimson; but most gigs with Robert Fripp were short ones so he was in need of a job.

If you like rock & roll the first Bad Company is an essential album...just under 35 minutes of pure ecstasy. Paul Rogers is the rawest, most pure rock singer in the world. A few vocalists may match him at their peak but no one will match him for consistency and longevity. For grit and perseverance he is peerless. And 40 years later, he still sounds great. On this first LP the band is nothing short of astounding from Ralphs' stinging blues licks to the thunderous rhythm section; this is the record. If you are a serious aficionado you already have it in your collection. If you are thinking about where to start, pick this up before anyone finds out you don't have a copy.



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