Travel Writing by Cory Hanson

Writing Music: Bad Company

This is part of an ongoing series discovering and reviewing heavy metal bands in the order in which they appear in The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal by Daniel Bukszpan. Check out the rest of the series and stay tuned for new reviews each week. Until I finish this book, stay heavy, my friends.

For me, the music of Bad Company has always represented the best — and worst — of the sounds I associate with classic rock radio I listened to under duress (usually while held captive in a parent’s car, strapped in tight to my seat on the way to Kmart to pick up some new shoes and a coloring book). Today, classic rock radio is now mostly the 80s and 90s-era music that I listened to when controlled the radio dial — that is, the dial on my prized Casio dual-deck boom box with optional FM stereo and high-speed dubbing in my bedroom.

For Bukszpan in the Encyclopedia, Bad Company’s catalogue is not “awful musical tripe,” but workmanlike 70s hard rock, with a serviceable repertoire of toe-tapping boomers, the odd ballad, and a few “yuppie sports bar karaoke anthem[s]” like “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” which happens to cause involuntary skip-button spasms in my right arm whenever I hear that first acoustic chord.

The band

This week, we go random. I’m scrolling down the band’s b-sides and picking a few by title alone. This will save me from injuries as my arms snap to the power cord when their played-to-death radio jams like “Bad Company” and “Ready for Love” spin into evil existence.

Ok, here’s one. “The Way I Choose” comes from the band’s 1974 self-titled album, and the guitar echo effects most certainly scream, “1974, mofos!” As I listen to it, I keep waiting for it to break out into straight-up Yes-style prog in a sort of musical joke that prog bands liked to play on us in their heyday. Sadly, it never happens.

The English and the blues: a match made in Essex. (Or Sussex. Or Suffolk. I can never remember. Somewhere bad in England.) I have a difficult enough time swallowing southern white guys playing the blues (looking at you, Bob Seger…), but the Brits are too much. Sorry about this pick; Lady Luck wants us all to suffer today.

[If Bad Company bads your company, why not consider supporting this project by taking a look at the band’s catalogue on Amazon here.]

What do 70s bands do in the 90s? If Bad Company is any indication, they do their level best to keep creating the same music, but with slightly harder distortion on their guitars (and a slightly cleaner vocal mix). Who was the target audience for 1995’s Company of Strangers? Was it supposed to be me and the rest of the MTV generation? Was it supposed to be the aging Boomers who had thrown their underwear at the boys of Bad Company in the days when the founding member of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and the Who were still alive? the debate rages on. (Not really.)

The bottom line

If your blond mullet is quickly becoming a platinum skullet, you might be a red— er, a Bad Company fan. My opinions might be tainted by the forced ingestion of countless hours of annoying classic rock radio — “You’re tuned to the hardest rock block on the sock trock, the wildest, weirdest, wettest, wackiest winos on your radio dial-os…” — but I’ll give Bad Company a spot on my “vanilla rock for skullet-owners and aging FM radio DJs” list.

Articles in this series use affiliate shopping links and ads. If you enjoy my reviews and writing, consider visiting these vendors through these links to support this website at no extra cost to you. For more about the monetization of this site, see my full disclosure. Metal cover image via Flickr by Photos by Mavis.

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