Bad Company

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1973-82)

- Boz Burrell (RIP 2006) -- bass

- Simon Kirke -- drums, percussion, guitar, vocals 

- Mick Ralphs -- lead guitar

- Paul Rodgers -- vocals, keyboards, bass, guitar


  line up 2 (1986)

- Boz Burrell (RIP 2006) -- bass

- Brian Howe -- vocals (replaced Paul Rodgers) 

- Simon Kirke -- drums, percussion, guitar, vocals 

- Mick Ralphs -- lead guitar 


  line up 1 (1973-82)

- Boz Burrell -- bass (1973-)

- Dave Colwell -- rhythm guitar (2003)

- Brian Howe -- vocals (replaced Paul Rodgers) (1986-)

- Simon Kirke -- drums, percussion, guitar, vocals  (1973-)

- Mick Ralphs -- lead guitar (1973-)

- Paul Rodgers -- vocals, keyboards, bass, guitar (1973-82)

- Rick Wills -- bass (2003)





Cochise (Rick Willis)

- The Firm (Paul Rodgers)

- Free (Simon Kirke and Paul Rodgers)

- King Crimson (Boz Burrell)

- The Law (Paul Rodgers)

- Mott the Hoople (Mick Ralphs)

- Queen (Paul Rodgers)

- Ted Nugent Band (Brian Howe)

- Mick Ralphs (solo efforts)

- Paul Rodgers (solo efforts)





Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Holy Water

Company: ATCO

Catalog: A1-91371

Year: 1990

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 15

Price: $8.00


I'll readily admit that I was one of those folks who scoffed at the thought of a Paul Rodgers-less Bad Company.  How could any band replace a classic blues belter like Rodgers?  And the replacement was a guy who'd sung with Ted Nugent  ...  Well I was wrong.  Brian Howe certainly was no Paul Rodgers, but to his credit, he never made an attempt to sound like Rodgers which is worth at least one star in my book.


Produced by Terry Thomas (who also co-wrote most of the 13 tracks), 1990's "Holy Water" was actually the band's third post-Rodgers release and the first where Howe sounded comfortable in his surroundings.  Part of the credit was probably due to the fact that Howe co-wrote most of the material which was actually a little more commercial oriented than those earlier efforts.  That commerciality took the form of power ballads like 'Walk Through Fire', 'Fearless' and 'I Can't Live without You' which were 100% formula and could have easily been mistaken for any of the dozen of other early-1990s 'hair bands' then ruling the airwaves. Producer Thomas also made his presence felt in the highly commercial arrangements.  Just like he did when fronting the band Charlie (see separate entry), Thomas made sure that no matter how ponderous AOR material like the title track, 'Stranger Stranger' and 'Lay Your Love On Me' was kicked along by highly catchy group choruses.  Nice trick (imagine Def Leppard with a couple of decades on 'em) and it saved about half of the songs from being totally forgettable (kind of like Howe's voice).  Much of it may have been corporate schlock, but at least it was quality schlock and the band even enjoyed a top-20 hit with the single 'If You Needed Somebody' b/w '100 Miles' (ATCO catalog number 7-98872). 



The album went on to enjoy platinum sales with help from two more hit singles:


- 'Holy Water' b/w 'I Can't Live without You' (ATCO catalog number 7-98944)

- 'Walk Through Fire' b/w '' (ATCO catalog number ????)


Perhaps because it was so different, Simon Kirke's low-keyed largely acoustic ballad '100 Miles' was actually the LP's standout tune.  Not only did Kirke display a nice voice, but the absence of standard AOR moves was simply refreshing.  Yes, I would buy a Simon Kirke solo album !!!


"Holy Water" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Holy Water   (Brian Howe - Terry Thomas) - 

2.) Walk Through Fire   (Brian Howe - Terry Thomas) - 

3.) Stranger Stranger   (Brian Howe - Simon Kirke - Terry Thomas) - 

4.) If You Needed Somebody   (Brian Howe - Terry Thomas) - 

5.) Fearless   (Brian Howe - Terry Thomas) - 

6.) Lay Your Love On Me   (Mick Ralphs) - 


(side 2)
1.) Boys Cry Tough   (Brian Howe - Terry Thomas) - 

2.) With You In a Heartbeat   (Brian Howe - Terry Thomas) - 

3.) I Don't Care   (Brian Howe - Terry Thomas) - 

4.) It's Never Too Late   (Terry Thomas - Mick Ralphs) - 

5.) Dead of the Night   (Terry Thomas - Mick Ralphs) - 

6.) I Can't Live without You   (Terry Thomas - Mick Ralphs) - 

7.) 100 Miles   (Simon Kirke) - 





Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Live 1977

Company: Swan Song/Rhino

Catalog: 81227 95232

Year: 2016

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/ VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened); double LP set

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 3172

Price: $40.00


Hum, I can only wonder how much of my high school and college career was spent listening to Bad Company albums ...  My grades probably would have been substantially better had some of that time been devoted to studies.


When released in 2016, "Live 1977" was marketed as the first-ever official live album featuring the original band line-up.   2006 had seen the first Bad Company album - "Live In Albuquerque", but that project died a quick death after it became tangled in various legal issues.  Anyhow, live Bad Company is exactly what you got on this fifteen track, double album set.  Recorded at a May 23, 1977 performance at The Summit in Houston, Texas, this was prime Bad Company.  Touring in support of their new "Burnin' Sky" album it shouldn't have come as a surprise the set list included a heavy dose of then-new "Burnin' Sky" material.  By my count, six of the performances were from the new album (the title track, 'Too Bad', 'Heartbeat', 'Morning Sun', 'Like Water', and 'Man Needs a Woman').  The rest of the set featured a mixture of deep cuts and their hits. 


For an album that wasn't treated to any post-production fixes (assuming you believed the credits liner notes), the results were quite impressive.  Exemplified by tracks like 'Leaving You', 'Too Bad', and 'Heartbeat' Rodgers and company came across as a band that was totally profession; confident with their talents.  Yeah, 'Ready for Love' and a couple of  songs came off as slightly rawer than the studio versions, but with the exception of 'Morning Sun' the stripped down performances were uniformly killer.  In fact, my only complaints were minor.  Opening side three, Kirke's drum solo was a needless waste of space that would have been better allocated to another hit, or an obscure performance.  And as much as I love the hits; perhaps because I've heard them so often, part of me wished there'd been a wider selection of obscurities.


"Live 1977" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Burnin' Sky   (Paul Rodgers) - 4:49   rating: **** stars

'Burnin' Sky' opened the set with exactly what you would have expected - a muscular, no-frills rendition of one of their classic performances.  To my ears, the performance didn't stray all that far from the studio version; which was a good thing.  Awesome opening.

2.) Too Bad   (Mick Ralphs) - 5:17   rating: **** stars

Because I thought it was one of the overlooked gems, I can remember this one being off the 'Burnin' Sky' album.  Nothing particular special in the overall Bad Company cannon, but Mick Ralphs' dazzling solo stood out on this one.  

3.) Ready for Love   (Mick Ralphs) - 8:03   rating: **** stars

Geez, instant flashback to my high school days ...  Admittedly the track lacked some of the polish on the studio version, but I have to tell you Rodgers sounded even better on the live version.   

4.) Heartbeat   (Paul Rodgers) - 4:29   rating: **** star

Rodgers' 'Heartbeat' found the band loosened the reigns a bit with one of their funkier tracks.   Awesome Ralphs solo.


(side 2)
1.) Morning Sun
   (Paul Rodgers) - 4:24  rating: *** stars

The intro made you chuckle; otherwise the ballad 'Morning Sun' was one of the few performance that did;t translate well into the live environment.  The performance wasn't bad, but Rodgers didn;t sound nearly as comfortable on this one as the harder rocking tunes.

2.) Man Needs Woman   (Paul Rodgers) - 4:16  rating: **** star

Nice, bouncy version of the tune that showcased Rodgers' instantly recognizable voice.  In fact my only complaint was the abrupt ending.  It almost sounded like they ran out of tape.

3.) Leaving You   (Paul Rodgers) - 4:28    rating: **** star

Rodgers did an interview with Rolling Stone where he talked about the album and mentioned 'Leaving You':  "There's a couple things on there, like 'Leaving You' which I didn't even know we'd actually played live, ever.  And it's got a great feel, better than the record."   And I'd agree with his comments.  Certainly not the band's best know song, but this was easily the standout performance on the album.

4.) Shooting Star   (Paul Rodgers) - 6:58  rating: **** star

"A story that speaks for it's song ..."  Awesome live rendition that didn't lose anything next to the studio original.


(side 3)

1.) Simple Man   (Mick Ralphs) - 6:09   rating: **** stars

Ralphs' acoustic 12 string immediately sucked you into this one.  Slowed and stripped down, the live version was definitive.  

2.) Movin' On   (Mick Ralphs) - 3:27    rating: **** stars

Hearing Ralphs describing 'Movin' On' as an old favorite was funny, but the band nailed the track, right down to the chorus.  

3.) Like Water -  (Paul Rodgers - Machiko - Shimizu) - 5:34   rating: **** stars

One of their prettier numbers and a good showcase for demonstrating Rodgers could scale back the power when required.


(side 4)

1.) drum solo  (Simon Kirke) - 1:33  rating: ** stars

Apparently there was some kind of contractual stipulation in every '70s concert that the drummer be given an opportunity to showcase their talents in an extended solo spot.   Luckily this one was relatively short.

2.) Live for the Music   (Mick Ralphs) - 6:31  rating: *** stars

Rodgers and company stretch this classic out.  Not really necessary.

3.) Good Lovin' Gone Bad   (Mick Ralphs) - 5:28   rating: **** stars

Another hit that didn't seem to lose anything in the studio-to-concert transition.  The last song in their set, the minute or so of audience applause to bring them back for an encore wasn't well spent.

4.) Feel Like Makin' Love   (Mick Ralphs - Paul Rodgers) - 6:40  rating: **** stars

Another classic and a nice way to close out the album ...  The harmonies were a bit ragged, but I have to admit I love the performance.  Geez, this one reminds me of cross country practice.


The CD version of the collection included an additional 14 tracks recorded at a March 9, 1979 performance at London's Wembley Stadium and a cover of 'Hey Joe' drawn from a June, 1979 Landover, Maryland Capitol Center concert:


1.) Bad Company   (Simon Kirke - Paul Rodgers) - 7:53

2.) Gone, Gone, Gone  (Boz Burrell) - 4:57

3.) Shooting Star    (Paul Rodgers) - 6:38

4.) Rhythm Machine   (Boz Burrell - Simon Kirke) - 5:01

5.) Oh Atlanta  (Mick Ralphs) - 5:01

6.) She Brings me Love   (Paul Rodgers) -5:22

7.) Run with the Pack   (Paul Rodgers) - 5:55

8.) Evil Winfd   (Paul Rodgers) - 4:35

9.) drum solo   (Simon Kirke) - 2:36

10.) Honey Child   (Boz Bureell - Simon Kirke - Mick Ralphs - Paul Rodgers) - 4:33

11.) Rock Steady   (Paul Rodgers) -3:27

12.) Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy   (Paul Rodgers) - 3:26

13.) Hey Joe   Billy Roberts) - 4:27

14.) Feel Like Makin' Love   (Mick Ralphs - Paul Rodgers) - 6:27

15.) Can't Get Enough   (Paul Rodgers) - 6:01


Bad Company also reunited for a reunion tour in support of the album, though Ralphs dropped out before the tour started.  He was replaced by The Black Crowes Chris Robinson.