Some groups start off in a blaze of glory, realise they can never live up to their initial achievements, and nip it in the bud before they become stale. Others soldier on or split and reform, living on past glories and lured by business reasons. Such was the case with Bad Company, a four-piece band which formed in 1973 after the collapse of Free left vocalist Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke high and dry. Recruiting the similarly anchorless Mick Ralphs (ex-Mott The Hoople, guitar) and Boz Burrell (ex-King Crimson, bass), they arrived at just the right time. Their only real contemporary hard rock rivals, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, were temporarily out of the frame with tax exile or personnel problems, and when their first single 'Can't Get Enough' was released early the next year to ecstatic reviews, soon followed by their debut album 'Bad Co', it seemed they had it made. Both were instant hits in the UK and even more so stateside, where the album reached No. 1. Flashback to yours truly's student days. At our college discos when the dance floor was getting empty, the DJ only had to spin 'Can't Get Enough'. Cue that opening slap on the drums and first guitar chord, and the floor was packed again in no time. Rodgers was one of everybody's favourite male vocalists of the era. Even a certain Mr Blair, vocalist with the, er, legendary Ugly Rumours, said years later that, if he had a voice like Paul, he would probably never have gone into politics. (Any chance of cloning the Rodgers larynx, anyone, or is it too late?) If the first album was good, the second was even better. 'Straight Shooter' was packed with goodies, from another hard-rocking single 'Good Lovin' Gone Band', and the smoochy 'Feel Like Makin' Love', to the soulful 'Wild Fire Woman' and the sombre 'Shooting Star'. The latter told the story of a rock star who couldn't
handle success and eventually succumbed to an overdose, ironic in view of the fate of Paul Kossoff, who had played guitar alongside Rodgers in Free and died soon afterwards after a history of drug abuse. A third album 'Run With The Pack' was more of the same, though this time around not quite up to the same standard, and it failed to yield a hit single in Britain. Had Bad Company quit at that point, their reputation would have remained intact. Successive long-players 'Burning Sky' and 'Desolation Angels' continued to sell, albeit in diminishing quantities, though they were just repeating themselves – and not very well. After a sixth, the disappointing 'Rough Diamonds' in 1982, they called it a day. Bad Company Mk II reopened shop in 1986 without Rodgers, who had moved to pastures new (the shortlived The Law with Jimmy Page, and then a solo career), to be replaced by new vocalist Brian Howe. Yet their synthesiser-dominated sound, while it might have sounded more contemporary, failed to excite much attention. The group has churned out more albums since then, with further changes in line-up and reliance on session musicians, to zilch interest in the UK and modest sales stateside. Shame, really. Bad Company were magnificent on record for the first two or three years, and they should have left it at that. Give your old vinyls another spin if you've got them that way, invest in one or two CDs (preferably one or other of the first two) if you haven't. Alternatively one of the compilations, 'Original Bad Company Anthology' (£12.99, double) or '10 from 6' (£8.99), has the essential stuff.