Musical supergroups rarely live up to the sum of their parts. So often, they turn in messy, unfocussed records that ultimately sound like a bunch of musicians jostling embarrassingly for the spotlight. This is not true of Bad Company, however, a deliciously overblown supergroup that managed to turn in not one but twelve landmark studio albums. The endlessly entertaining quality of their music still excites today: after all, there’s a reason that almost forty years after it was dropped, their debut record Bad Company is getting a re-issue.
As entertainingly overwrought albums go, Bad Company is a gem. It’s got it all: brilliant cowbell lines (on the ecstatic Rock Steady); delirious guitar work (on the genre staple Can’t Get Enough); and lighter waving, melodramatic ballads (on the brilliant Don’t Let Me Down.)
But, Bad Company fans will already know all this. The album is a certified classic, and will undoubtedly hold its special place in a great number of hearts. So, why should any Bad Company devotee fork out the money for this re-issue then? The songs have been re-mastered, but that’s nothing new either: the tracks were already worked over for a 1994 re-master. Admittedly, these new versions have been re-mastered using the original tapes for the first time, and they sound good, sure, but not good enough to have fans forking out extra cash. After all, most will already undoubtedly have high quality versions of these songs.
The success of the re-issue then hangs on the thirteen bonus tracks. Some are little more than curios – although fans will appreciate having the first take of Can’t Get Enough and demo versions of Little Miss Fortune and The Way I Choose it’s hard to imagine them forking out the extra cash based on these tracks alone. There is an interesting, upbeat extended version of Easy On My Soul, a track made famous by Paul Rogers’ band Free, and an extended version of Superstar Woman is a nice addition too.
But the re-issue does contain just a little too much filler. A 23 second track of “studio chat/dialogue” feels like an unnecessary addition, shoehorned in simply to boost up the running time and get fans’ wallets itching.
The rating below is based on the re-issue then, rather than the actual album. If I was reviewing the work itself, it’d get an easy four, but as a tribute to a great album, the re-issue falls rather flat on its face. Buyer beware: if you already have a copy of this album, you don’t need this one too.