As radio-friendly hard rock went in 1974, Bad Company were about as generic as it gets. It’s not that they were particularly bad, it’s just that they never really went for broke or took any risks. The initial line up of Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke, Mick Ralphs and Boz Burrell never really advanced artistically from this self-titled debut album of bluesy rockers and ballads, and they certainly never bettered it. As such Bad Company remains the band’s high-point and the release on which the highest concentration of their best songs can be found.
Of course anyone who has listened to classic rock radio at any point in the last quarter of a century will be familiar with “Can’t Get Enough”, a simple yet devastatingly effective rocker penned by ex-Mott the Hoople guitar slinger Mick Ralphs. It’s basic, straightforward and does exactly what you expect it to with the minimum of fuss and as such remains the band’s best song, and an enduring staple of classic rock radio stations.
Elsewhere, “Ready For Love” is another Ralphs penned number which had already been recorded by his former band. Personally, although the Bad Company version is much slicker and Paul Rodgers the more conventional rock vocalist, I prefer the original, Ian Hunter sung, version. The title track of the album is the album’s other high point, with it’s piano-led verses and the power-chord drenched chorus. Even at the time it was hardly the cutting edge as regards rock music, but it was effective and as such is the eponymous album’s second-best track.
To be fair the rest of the album is pretty much filler, nothing to really catch the attention as either superb or particularly bad, just a bunch of songs designed to fill the radio-waves in the USA through the mid 70s. To me that is both the strength and weakness of Bad Company – they had a simple, yet utterly effective, game-plan to crack the US market. The trouble was, they achieved that almost instantaneously with their career-best song, so after that they had really no place to go, thus they spent the next eight years in a holding pattern, making less and less interesting facsimiles of this album until the original quartet disbanded after the release of 1982’s Rough Diamonds.
Bad Company is an album that stands as one of the definitive albums of 70s accessible hard rock. The band played to their strengths and took minimal risks, and that strategy paid off with enormous commercial success. Trouble was, after that, they really had nowhere else to go. For a supergroup that consisted of former members of Free, Mott the Hoople and King Crimson, they really should have had a lot more ambition than that.