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Posts Tagged ‘Bad Company’

OK, so I’m not losing sleep over who gets into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but the latest batch of nominee’s reminded me of how haphazard this process can be.  This year voters get to pick from a wide variety of artists, which includes overlooked bands like The Zombies and MC5, singer/songwriters like Todd Rundgren and John Prine, genre pioneers like Kraftwork, and Rage Against the Machine, 80’s phenoms like The Cure and Devo, dancefloor divas like Chaka Khan, and Janet Jackson, or popular favorites like LLCoolJ, Stevie Nicks and Def Leppard.  It’s not that I have a big issue with any of these artists, it’s that there are so many other deserving candidates who seem to have been forgotten.  USA Today ran an article in recent days naming what they considered to be artists that were “snubbed” (e.g. Blink-182, Bone Thugs N-Harmony, Jane’s Addiction?), and while they did name a few I hadn’t thought of (e.g. Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, Snopp Dogg, Kate Bush),  they left off what I considered to be the more obvious choices.  The three groups that jump to my mind are the Doobie Brothers, Boston, and The Guess Who.  Each one of those bands produced at least a half dozen classic songs that are still being played on the radio 40+ years later.  Their credentials are far superior to many of the other artists who are already in the hall.

In many cases, members of popular bands are also enshrined for their individual careers (e.g. Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, John Lennon…).  Along those lines, I believe that a singer like Paul Rodgers should be admitted for his work in bands like Free, Bad Company, The Firm, and Queen.  Similarly, Sammy Hagar (Montrose, Van Halen, solo career), Ronnie James Dio (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio) and Steve Winwood (Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith) should qualify for their stellar careers.  With bands like Journey and Cheap Trick already recognized, it’s hard to understand the exclusion of bands like Foreigner and Styx.  Similarly, if Deep Purple was worthy, so is Bad Company, and if Bon Jovi belongs, so do The Scorpions.  I don’t mind newer acts like Radiohead being nominated, but I don’t want to see some of these classic acts forgotten.  If you need further proof for the artists I mentioned, listen to the following:

  • The Doobie Brothers: Long Train Running, Black Water, China Grove, Jesus Is Just Alright, Taking it to the Streets, Listen to the Music
  • Boston:  More Than a Feeling, Foreplay/Long Time, Piece of Mind, Don’t Look Back, Rock and Roll Band, Feelin’ Satisfied
  • The Guess Who:  American Woman, These Eyes, Undun, No Time, Share the Land, No Sugar Tonight
  • Paul Rodgers:  Alright Now (Free), Bad Company (BC), Ready for Love (BC), Shooting Star (BC), Feel Like Making Love (BC), Satisfaction Guaranteed (The Firm)
  • Steve Winwood:  Gimme Some Lovin’ (Spencer Davis Group), Can’t Find My Way Home (Blind Faith), Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (Traffic), John Barlycorn Must Die (Traffic), Arc of the Diver
  • Sammy Hagar: Bad Motor Scooter (Montrose), Heavy Metal (solo), I Can’t Drive 55 (solo), Dreams (Van Halen), Right Now (Van Halen)
  • Ronnie James Dio:  Man on the Silver Mountain (Rainbow), Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath), The Mob Rules (Black Sabbath), Holy Diver (Dio)
  • Foreigner:  Cold As Ice, Long Long Way from Home, Feels Like the First Time, Hot Blooded, Urgent, Juke Box Hero, I Want to Know What Love Is
  • Styx:  Lady, Suite Madame Blue, Come Sail Away, Fooling Yourself, Blue Collar Man, Renegade
  • Bad Company:  Bad Company, Ready for Love, Seagull, Shooting Star, Feel Like Making Love, Rock and Roll Fantasy
  • The Scorpions:  Holiday, The Zoo, No One Like You, Rock You Like a Hurricane, Still Loving You, Winds of Change,
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  1. Turn the Page (Bob Seger) – Metallica.  This remarkably straight up remake retains all the road weariness of the original, while replacing the iconic saxophone arrangement with a surprisingly effective guitar line.
  2. Sounds of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel) – Disturbed.  The mix of Paul Simon’s epic lyrics, a sweeping orchestral arrangement, and David Draiman’s powerful vocals makes for compelling musical theater.
  3. Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana) – Tori Amos  Somehow Amos’ striped down, piano arrangement manages to build its own strange sort of tension.
  4. Solitary Man (Neil Diamond) – The Sidewinders  A slightly grittier, more muscular version of a Neil Diamond classic.
  5. Hurt (Nine Inch Nails) – Johnny Cash  Cash’s take on this Trent Reznor lamentation is as emotionally raw as anything you’ll ever hear on the radio.
  6. Sweet Jane (The Velvet Underground) – The Cowboy Junkies  The Junkies seem to transport the urban cool of this Lou Reed tune to a roadhouse somewhere in the Midwest.
  7. Bad Company (Bad Company) – Five Finger Death Punch  The ultra-cool original gets a dose of steroids from this Vegas hard-rock outfit.
  8. Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder) – Red Hot Chili Peppers  Though not a radical departure from the original, the Peppers still manage to leave their distinctive fingerprints on it.
  9. Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix) – Sting  The jazzy recasting of this Hendrix classic makes it almost unrecognizable when compared to the original.
  10. Careless Whisper (Wham) – Seether.  Even those of us who loathed the frothy pop of Wham can appreciate Seether’s roughed up arrangement of this chart topper.

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After spending the first thirty years of my life being glued to the radio, collecting record albums, and reading Rolling Stone magazine, I took about a twelve year hiatus from that whole scene. In recent years, as I’ve revisited some of that old music, I’ve been surprised by how different some of it sounds to me now.  A few of the bands I used to love don’t sound that good anymore, and others seem even better than I remember them.  Here are a few examples:

 

Under-rated:

 

  • Steely Dan – I always enjoyed this bands completely unique approach to their craft. The complex jazz influenced arrangements, the exquisite musicianship, the cryptic lyrics and the sparkling production made them standout against the rock/pop music landscape. These attributes also give their best work a timeless quality that has allowed it to become classic.
  • Chicago – In its heyday, this band was one of the brightest and most innovative groups in rock music. Through their first ten albums they produced a library of compelling music, much of which remains vibrant today. Though the exploitation of the band’s name in later years diminished their stature in the rock community, a listen to their earlier work is a great reminder of what a special group this was.
  • Bad Company – Formed from the ashes of the bands, “Free”, “Mott the Hoople” and “King Crimson”, Bad Company was something of a super-group and it showed immediately on their classic (self-titled) debut album. Though their run (with the original lineup) was relatively brief, it produced five solid albums filled with a lot of great music.
  • The Guess Who – This legendary Canadian band has taken on many forms over the years, but it was the combination of Burton Cummings remarkable vocals and guitarist Randy Bachman’s copious musical skills that created their most memorable music. Between 1969 and 1970 they released classics like, “These Eyes”, “Laughing”, “Undun”, “No Time”, “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature”, “Share the Land”, and “American Woman”. Those songs alone give them a Hall of Fame worthy resume.

 

 

 

Over-rated:

 

  • Kiss – No one is likely to dispute their credentials as world class entertainers, and I would list a Kiss concert (with makeup) as a must-see event for any avid rock music fan. But as I revisited the old studio recordings it’s been hard to miss the mediocre songwriting, singing and, in many cases, playing. Other than Kiss Alive I & II, I’d be hard pressed to get through a whole album anymore.
  • Eric Clapton (Solo) – There’s no doubt that Clapton is a guitar virtuoso, and that he has played on numerous classic recordings. But as I’ve listened with fresh ears it’s difficult not to notice the huge disparity between the work he did in bands such as the Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Domino’s, and his solo recordings. His limitations as a songwriter and vocalist become far more apparent when he was not surrounded by great musicians/vocalists like Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Duane Allman, Steve Winwood… His best solo recordings have generally been songs written by others (e.g. JJ Cale).
  • Jimi Hendrix – I know that I’ll likely be lynched for including his hallowed name on this list, and it is in no way meant to disparage his amazing talent. In truth, it is more a lament over the circumstances that surrounded his brief recording career. Though every fan cherishes anything they can get their hands on, most of the Hendrix catalog is made up of poorly recorded, poorly produced snippets of songs and ideas. All of them point to the limitless potential that Hendrix possessed, but sadly, few of them represent the realization of that potential.

 

Lives Up to the Hype:

 

  • The Beatles – These guys are the gold standard by which just about everyone else is judged and after years of not hearing them, their music still sounds fresh and innovative. With all due respect to their notable individual accomplishments, none of them consistently approached this artistic level as a solo artist.
  • The Doors – Like everyone else, I was a big Jim Morrison fan, and was often mesmerized by his persona. But in revisiting the Doors catalog I was struck by the incredible talent and contributions of the rest of the band (keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger).   They were by no means simply Morrison’s backing band.
  • Led Zeppelin – English bands that loved to play the blues were a dime a dozen back in the 1960’s, but none of them quite reached the heights that Zeppelin did. Their eclectic mix of blues, folk and hard rock could be at times tender, haunting, or even bludgeoning. Going back and listening to this music only enhanced my respect for this one of a kind band.

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