Bad Company: Bad Company: Live 1977 & 1979

Doug Collette By

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Formed from the fragments of Free and Mott the Hoople, Bad Company took a careerist approach to their efforts together from the very start. Much publicity surrounded the announcement of their alliance including the fact the quartet's debut album was the first release from Led Zeppelin's custom label Swan Song. Add to that a timeline beginning in the early to mid-Seventies, accentuated by continuing demand since the demise of the original lineup depicted on Bad Company Live 1977-1979it's altogether mystifying there was never an official live release from the group.

This double CD set fills that vacuum and then some as features two complete concerts recorded in Houston and London. "Burning Sky," from the American date May 23 illustrates how the high-tech work applied by Richard Digby-Smith in mixing and and Jon Astley in mastering maintains an edge to the sound on the multi-track recordings. And there's detail aplenty in this sonic mix—Boz Burrell's bass runs are readily apparent as are Simon Kirke's drum rolls—and that carries over to the packaging: play-by-play notes on each show appear in the enclosed twenty-page booklet juxtaposed with an abundance of action photos, assorted pertinent graphics and David Clayton's essay with a mini-history of Bad Company.

A bonafide value of archive titles such as Bad Company Live 1977 & 1979 is the absence of duplicate tracks from one disc to the other and even given the two-year difference in chronology captured here, it's extremely laudable there are no repeats. Granted, at the time of the earlier of the two shows, the group did have four albums' worth of material, so the setlist choices and exhumation of the tapes facilitated the ease in preparation of this release, a practical aspect further heightened as no overdubs have been added. On the contrary, numbers from the expanse of their repertoire appears, including a clutch of numbers on which lead vocalist Paul Rodgers plays guitar along with Mick Ralphs: their tuneful tandem playing on "Heartbeat" challenges the audience's expectations as strongly as the former's rich crooning on "Morning Sun."

Bad Company had already peaked commercially even at the time of the Texas show, while the British date, again presented without any after the fact embellishments (except the insertion of a rare cover of "Hey Joe" from a show elsewhere later that same year), was one of three appearances on what amounted to a comeback tour. The (mercifully abbreviated) drum solo is the sole repeat from the first show included here and, perhaps not surprisingly, these fifteen selections include Bad Company's most durable numbers: the eponymous self-reference, "Rock Steady," "Feel Like Makin' Love" and "Can't Get Enough" While there are no great revelations here—though the band is much heavier in concert than in their studio work and certainly funkier even apart from "Rhythm Machine"—the quartet evinces no discernible signs of ennui.

Quite the contrary in fact: Bad Company's swagger is unmistakable and, in hindsight, rightly so. While the foursome can hardly be called hard rock innovators, at the same time, they never relied on or stooped to the caricatures so prevalent in their chosen genre. All the more reason to savor Live 1977 & 1979 as an accurate artifact of its time and of the band itself.

Track Listing: CD 1: Burnin' Sky; Too Bad; Ready For Love; Heartbeat; Morning Sun; Man Needs Woman; Leaving You; Shooting Star; Simple Man; Movin' On; Like Water; Live For The Music; Drum Solo; Good Lovin' Gone Bad; Feel Like Makin' Love. CD 2: Bad Company; Gone, Gone, Gone; Shooting Star; Rhythm Machine; Oh, Atlanta; She Brings Me Love; Run With The Pack; Evil Wind; Drum Solo; Honey Child; Rock Steady; Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy; Hey Joe; Feel Like Makin' Love; Can't Get Enough.

Personnel: Paul Rodgers: vocals, guitar, keyboards; Mick Ralphs: guitar, vocals; Simon Kirke: drums; and Boz Burrell: bass.

Title: Bad Company: Live 1977 & 1979 | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Rhino Records


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