Rock’s Classics :: Bad Company – Bad Company

Rock’s Classics returns after a short hiatus with an embodiment of what it meant to make rock music in the 1970s

Bad Company

Bad Company © John Rockwood

Taking a trip back to arguably one of rock’s heyday years of 1974, Rock’s Classics takes a gander at the hard rock classic “Bad Company” by Bad Company. Often considered by many to be a band that could and perhaps should have delivered more, Bad Company seemed to tap into a mentality and way of life that perfectly epitomised the early 70s rock scene. With their screaming lyrics and heavily amped guitars, Bad Company stood at the very edge of making a bloody charge at immortality, “Bad Company” was one of their war cries.

Formed in 1973 as the result of the remaining members of Free, vocalist Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke. Mott the Hoople’s Mick Ralphs on guitar and Boz Burrell formerly of King Crimson, it seemed that this band of plucky young rockers who had cut their teeth in what are considered some of the best seminal rock bands of their age, could do no wrong. The initial result of their meeting and cutting of their first album, Bad Company was a record deal with the newly formed Swan Song, a lucrative if not chaotic side project of Led Zeppelin. This deal also secured the services of Zep’s manager, one Peter Grant, the towersome former wrestler who is considered to be the pioneer of the rock band’s management system we know of today.

Thus in 1974, the band released their eponymous debut album much to the critics and fans of the member’s previous band’s enjoyment and pleasure. literally ladened with what are considered classic rock staples and anthems, “Can’t Get Enough,” and “Movin’ On” could probably justify a Rock’s Classics article to themselves, it was the self styled album and band leading song “Bad Company” that would secure itself as being the definitive sound for the band itself and the perfect calling card for the artists and their work.

Written by Kirke and Rodgers, the main basis for the song’s inspiration is taken from the Jeff Bridges western movie released a few years previously. Designed as an anthem for any rebelling soul and individual thinker, the lyrics deal with the somewhat regretful and remorseful narrator who acknowledges his rebellious and free way of life, ultimately not repenting but admitting it what he or she ultimately wants. This, accompanied by Ralphs guitar work in which he lumbers through the whole song with a heavy fisted dread, perfectly countering the flamboyant and wistful vocals from Rodgers. The percussion section and echoing piano/keyboard, also from Ralphs, paint the perfect picture of an Old West wilderness, the place in which the narrator has either decided or accepted will be the place of his final fight, a life spent on the wrong side of the tracks ending in the same way.

The solo, one of Mick Ralph’s best and a tribute to a rock guitarist often left off of most popular and talented lists, comes thundering out of this musical wilderness like a stampeding stallion. Erupting much like the protagonists frustration and temperamental nature, the solo works its way up and down the fret board in a controlled chaos, the voices of a thousand generations of rogues and renegades uniting as one distorted, amplified Marshall voice.

In all, “Bad Company” is not a song that is overlooked, nor is it a song that is underappreciated or unheralded by critics and fans of the hard and classic rock movements. It is a song that is a perfect embodiment of a band, era and genre that was perfectly master crafted and delivered to the mass public, of which they ate it up. Although Bad Company would go on to produce a total of twelve studio albums, the line up changed on an almost yearly basis at one point during the 80s and 90s, the band’s spirit was never truly captured again than in this album and thus within it this track. A great pity as many rock bands before and after Bad Company would attempt to come close to encapsulating all that they stood for but in the end, none were as close as Bad Company were, all of the time.

Jonathan Whitelaw

The band are still going strong so check out their official website:

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