Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Bad Company

  • Bad Co. [Swan Song, 1974] B-
  • Straight Shooter [Swan Song, 1975] B-
  • Run With the Pack [Swan Song, 1976] B-
  • Desolation Angels [Swan Song, 1979] C
  • 10 From 6 [Atlantic, 1985] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Bad Co. [Swan Song, 1974]
Since a strong singer (Paul Rodgers, who's letting the hair on his chest grow out) usually dominates a strong guitarist (Mike Ralphs, who's devoting himself to Paul Kossoff impressions anyway), this is less Mott the Hoople without pretensions (which are missed) than Free poppified (but not enough, hit single or no hit single). B-

Straight Shooter [Swan Song, 1975]
This rocks even more consistently than Bad Co., but to argue that it epitomizes hard rock as a style is not only to overlook its deliberate speed but to believe in one's (usually male) heart that Paul Rodgers is the ideal rock singer. You hear that a lot; what it seems to mean is that he doesn't shriek when he gets to the loud parts. Rodgers's power is no more interesting than Tom Jones's, and Jones is twice as subtle. If hard rock doesn't have more to offer, it's not worth arguing about. B-

Run With the Pack [Swan Song, 1976]
Almost imperceptibly, album by album, they soften their Free-derived formalism--not only does this one include ten (why, that's almost eleven!) different tunes, but the dynamics shift and the tempos accelerate slightly and Paul Rodgers actually sounds a little soulful. Which needless to say is a mixed blessing. It's not just that the lyrics are dumb, although there are smarter ways of being dumb than this, but that Rodgers emotes these egregious hip-and-funky clichés as if he's never run across such sentiments before in his life. Ordinarily, that's what a (soulful) singer should do. This time, though, it adds a false note that endangers the entire illusion. B-

Desolation Angels [Swan Song, 1979]
This is supposedly a return to form after Burning Sky, and it may be. I'll just say that if I'd never mistake them for Free anymore, I'd never mistake them for Foreigner either. I don't think. P.S. Are those syndrums on "Evil Wind"? Naughty, naughty. C

10 From 6 [Atlantic, 1985]
Recollected in a best-of's serviceably tuneful tranquility, their gut-crunch is smarter and more laid-back than anyone cares to notice, its deterioration less striking than its formal fortitude. Their tales of priapism and peripatesis avoid posture because they are posture, lean and mean as a clean machine. Would all "hard rock" were so austere. Pure as punk, in their way. B+

Further Notes:

Everything Rocks and Nothing Ever Dies [1990s]