Double Shot for a Monday
“Alright Now”, Free (1970)
“Bad Company”, Bad Company (1974)
I thought we needed 2 shots to get us going this morning - Paul Rodgers at two stages of his career: Early on with ‘Free’, and later in his career with ‘Bad Company’. His voice is still awesome.
Written by Paul Rodgers and bassist Andy Fraser, the word ‘quintessential’ comes to mind when I think of “Alright Now”. It was an anthem waving in an era of mainstream rock and roll - testosterone-rich hard-driving power chord magic. Paul Rodger’s voice was the envy of any teenage boy in the ‘70’s; versatile, powerful, and with a remarkable range. Released in 1970, “Alright Now” went to number 2 on the British Pop charts, and number 1 in many countries. By 2006 it had been played more than 3 million times on U.S. radio alone.
Paul would later work as lead singer for Queen, and work once again with one of the engineers (Roy Thomas Baker) that did “Alright Now”, that subsequently helped Queen with “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Killer Queen” and others.The song has been covered by The Runaways, Rod Stewart, and Christina Aguilera, and sampled by Loc- Tone in “Funky Cold Medina”.
Bad Company formed in 1973 was Free’s Paul Rodgers, and drummer Simon Kirke, Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs, and King Crimson bassist, Boz Burrell – a bit of a super group really. Signed to Swansong/Atlantic records, just like Led Zeppelin, they were also managed by Zep manager Peter Grant who managed them until 1982.
So they were in pretty good company when they released their debut album, “Bad Company” that was an international hit in 1974. When you talk about ‘Classic Rock”, this is about as classic as it gets.
The album opens with “Can’t Get Enough” with its bombastic drum opening and its lyrics, “Well I’ll take whatever I need, and baby I want you” sung in classic Paul Rodgers style. Other notable songs on the album are “Ready for Love”, “Movin’ On”, and of course their signature song “Bad Company”.
Their next album in 1975 spun off the number one hit, “Straight Shooter”, and the hits “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad”. Their 1979 album contained a song I really liked called “Rock and Roll Fantasy”. It was a more elaborate production with now synthesizers and strings. Bon Jovi owes a debt of gratitude to this band for sure, with its outlaw style.
By the end of the ‘70’s they started to recognize that their good, hard run was over. With the death of John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, their manager Peter Grant, who had helped them keep it together, packed it in. As frustrations ran high, Paul, who was apparently a black belt in martial arts, kicked the crap out of band mates Boz Burrell and Mick Ralphs in a one-sided altercation.
Although there were a few other versions of the band “Bad Company”, and a number of reunion tours, it was essentially over by 1982. Rodgers did some pretty successful solo work and later sang lead for Queen after the death of Freddy Mercury.