Lawrence Russell

Bad Company: Merchants of Cool

Bad Company in concert at the Paramount Theatre, Denver, Colorado... and the Grove of Anaheim, California. Recorded live in January 2002.

Vocals: Paul Rodgers
Drums: Simon Kirke
Guitar: David "Bucket" Colwell
Bass: Jaz Lochrie

Produced & Directed by Michael Drumm [Music Link Productions]

film edt: John Obenchain, Georgina Guidotti, Amy Weller
Cine: ?
Studio audio: Paul Rodgers
Audio edt: Mark Waldrop

DVD: Aix Media Group

140 minutes

humbuckers & tubes

Got a sore, yuppy ass from riding your new hog? Park it, man... grab a beer, watch the inimitable Paul Rodgers & Bad Company in their new live concert DVD burn through their greatest hits. Yeah, they reformed. No, Mick Ralphs ain't with them... but his personal friend and understudy Dave "Bucket" Colwell is and he definitely has the chops to step in... stack of 8 Marshall cabs, black Les Paul Deluxe, no pussying around.

Paul Rodgers, Bad CompanyToo old, you say? No way. These guys are in great shape, just like the smitten fans in the audience. It's a mature scene, sure... but these guys know how to rock. Is Paul Rodgers the best vocal rocker since Lennon? Just might be. You remember his husky, killer vocals: "I wus born/ a six-gun in my hand... I'm bad company/ bad company 'til the day I die...." You remember how he and Kirke the drummer started out in Free with Paul Kossof on guitar -- he who died on a flight from London to New York, son of the horror movie actor, very cool overblown sound. You remember Free's "All Right Now" -- is one of the classic rock numbers, radio plays it all the time, defines the era, 1969, second wave of the English Invasion.

These guys partied with Led Zep, same manager, Peter Grant. The Edgewater Hotel, Seattle -- you remember that infamous incident. Paul Rodgers tells us all about it, the extras 'bout the band on the DVD. Check it out. Great testimonies from some of their peers too -- Howard Leeson (Heart), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Tommy Shaw (Styx), Mick Jones (Foreigner)... Jesus, Jones looks weird, like an old tugboat skipper... or that heavy SF writer, J.G. Ballard. You just can't imagine him with a Les Paul hammerin' out "Hot Blooded", shit. Fact is all these guys look a little weird. If you live in the circus, then the circus lives in you.

the merchants of cool

"Burnin' Sky"... "Can't Get Enough (Of Your Love)"... "Good Lovin' Gone Bad"... these guys kick through the hits with relentless ease. Great Beatles coda to finish up "Rock And Roll Fantasy". The man is right when he says Rodgers is "like a preacher", great front-end man. The songs are ace. Not only the groove but also the dreams they set up. When Rodgers drops back to the piano, sings "Bad Company", man, it's Billy the Kid with a soul. One the greatest narrative-rock tunes of the era... maybe the images are about the Old West but he's talkin' about the way it is for us all. Piano is simple, sure, but the riff... have you ever heard a weak Rodgers riff? "Radioactive"? The thing he did with Jimmy Page when they went on the road together as The Firm? It's not so bad. Ain't "Shooting Star", sure... but it's not so bad.

Great clip with Rodgers talking about why he bailed from Bad Company, early eighties. Says it was burn-out, living life "too high"... way up off the ground, way up in hotels, way up in airplanes... was all unreal, was all "Shooting Star". But he says he and the boys always stepped back, never let the party scene get them, the music was always Number 1.

That guy Slash (Guns 'n' Roses) joins them onstage for a tune... so does Neal Schon (Journey)... never listen to either of them but o.k., a coupla hot rods.

Simon Kirke, Bad Company

It's a great set, guys. Ends with the up-tempo "Joe Fabulous", a straight-ahead rocker, a sign of things to come: "I'm Joe Fabulous/ and life is my school/ and this is my band/ we are the merchants of cool." They say they're gonna put out a new CD, have the material. If "Fabulous" is any indication, they certainly do. Meat an' potatoes Kirke says they're tight, "tightest we've ever been."

Nice editing job on the DVD cine, too... but who photographed this sweetheart? Didn't catch the name. Oh well... Michael Drumm runs a good production crew here. The montage never gets in the face of the music.

Backstage footage, photo gallery, band & celebrity interviews, biography, hidden bonus track... lots of stuff here to keep you happy. You wanna rock again, old timer? Then Bad Company is the company you're gonna keep.

© LR 5/02


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Culture Court copyright 2002 Lawrence Russell