Sunday, July 10, 2016

Bad Company - Straight Shooter (1975)

Bad Company established themselves in 1974 with their debut LP as the perfect supergroup - a band of established stars in British rock with undeniable chemistry and a deep commitment to their music.  And that was as good as it got.  Which, to be sure, was very good indeed.  
Straight Shooter, the group's second album, broke no new ground and offered few if any surprises.  But for BadCo fans simply hoping for an enjoyable record, that was more than enough. From the freewheeling blues of "Good Lovin' Gone Bad," the opening cut, to the pensive power ballad "Call On Me," Bad Company delivered a strong, competent piece of seventies classic rock that stands up as well as some of the more adventurous work of that decade.  Maybe more so, because although lead singer Paul Rodgers and his bandmates were giving the people what they wanted, Straight Shooter is an album from a band that wants this sound too.
Guitarist Mick Ralphs offers on Straight Shooter the flashy riffs and solos that are his trademark, all immaculately played with a bit of malice, and bassist Boz Burrell and drummer Simon Kirke provide a steady rhythm without fail.  While many of the songs here are straightforward AOR tunes for the air guitarist in all of us, though, BadCo still shows some diversity.  "Weep No More" is a rather spirited and heartfelt lament, driven by a piano-and-string arrangement, and "Anna" is a tender ballad that's not much sweeter than it should be.  The rockers, though, are still the big standouts; the gritty sound of "Wild Fire Woman" and Ralphs' crunchy riffs in "Deal With The Preacher" remind us why we love this band in the first place.
The centerpiece of the band, though, remains Rodgers, who demonstrates throughout why he had Robert Plant and Rod Stewart looking over their shoulders.  His blues chops remain impeccable, and his balladeering is first-rate; on  "Shooting Star," a song rewriting Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" but offering a more tragic ending, Rodgers handles both aspects of his singing at once.  "Feel Like Makin' Love," though, is the the biggest revelation on Straight Shooter; a heavy-rock refrain mated to verses with a folkish tinge, Rodgers delivers the refrain lyrics with all the power of a strong gust, all right,  but he takes a country-style bent on the verses, sounding more like Nashville than Nottingham. And he alternates between the two styles so effortlessly.  Rodgers could always be counted on justify Bad Company's popularity.  People didn't call him the Voice for nothing.

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