In fact the whole “Company of Strangers” episode came as something of a surprise to me. Way back in the mid nineties I was spending a lot of time in France and music unbelievably went on the back burner for a short while. Anyway I was back in England and visiting a muso friend in Leicester when someone came in to the studio and said Bad Company are playing Rock City in Nottingham (only a short drive away) tonight. Anyway it didn’t take long for us to decide to go and take a look despite the fact that we were all of the opinion that Bad Company without Rodgers was more than a little lame. Most of us being able to recall the disappointment of the tour with Deep Purple in 1987. Howe made few friends …. enough said. On the plus side though Nottingham is always a very welcoming town and the chance to see Mick and Simon in a small venue was too good a chance to miss. We arrived just in time and within minutes of us getting a drink and taking up our positions the band were on. After about two minutes my mate turned to me and said “Who’s that singing ….. its certainly not Howe …. he’s too good.”
The main difference for me between this and the Howe fronted albums is that musically it sounds like Bad Company again and not the Foreigner tribute band that Brian Howe and Terry Thomas had turned them into. Just listen to the similarities between the Bad Company album Holy Water and the Foreigner one Unusual Heat and you’ll see what I mean.
I’m not going to go into a track by track analysis but the opening title track penned by Hart and drummer Kirke is classic Bad Company. Had it been recorded by the Rodgers fronted line up it would have been on the radio as frequently as ‘Feel Like Making Love’ or the track ‘Bad Company’. In fact in many ways its is ‘Bad Company’ part two. Some great guitar work from Ralphs and second guitarist Dave Colwell helping to build the song into a classic. There is even a slower paced bridge a la ‘Deal With The Preacher’ to highlight Hart’s outstanding vocal ability. Honestly, as a track it is as good as anything put out by the classic line up. Similarly ‘Abandoned and Alone’ is very much in the same vein as ‘Ready For Love’ from their superb debut album.
The other eleven tracks are a nice mixture of fast paced rockers and more gentle balladic type tracks. That is the whole success of the album for me as it just has the good feel of a Bad Company album about it with constant pace and mood changes.
To conclude then, as as bigger fan of Paul Rodgers and Bad Company as anyone all I can say is don’t let “oh if Rodgers is not on it it’ll be rubbish’ prejudices prevent you from enjoying what is a mighty fine rock album …… and if it helps remember that it was on the record companies insistence that they kept the name Bad Company anyway.