Here`s an great article from the period inbetween the first and second album that Bad Company did. Personally, I think those two albums are the best that they did with Paul Rodgers. The excellent song “Shooting Star” mentioned in the article may even be one of the best songs a rock band ever made.
Have a nice read!
The air was tense in the little room. The Cub Reporter felt the sweat gather on his spine and trickle into his underpants. “Two quid,” he muttered nervously. “See ya!” riposted PAUL RODGERS. “Er-pair of threes” said the Cub Reporter. “Prile of Kings,” said Rodgers, “and that makes thirty-eight pounds forty-five pee you owe me. But I`ll settle for a good feature.” The Cub Reporter was numbered and knew it. But he had no choice. The moral of this sordid tale is…
Don`t play brag with Bad Company
Steve Clarke lost £38-45. Robert Ellis won £30 – and also got paid for the pix.
“I`m very reserved. I would like to be more friendly, but it takes a while. I drink with the boys, but mostly I`m a bit of a loner. I like to keep myself to myself – I like to look at things, and I like to see `em,” says Paul Rodgers, spread out on a chair in the lounge of a Newcastle hotel, the alcohol in his head accounting for this un-customary frankness to a certain extent.
As he says himself, he`s a bit of a dark horse, and it hasn`t been unknown for people to describe Rodgers` attitude as hostile. But boozed or not, Rodgers is a lot looser these days. He doesn`t have to worry about guitarists not being able to make tours so that he himself is lumbered with the job of playing guitar for an entire tour, and he has no problems with bass players leaving the band he`s playing in.
Just ask his old colleague from Free, Simon Kirke, and he`ll tell you that the group situation in Bad Company is a whole lot different from Free.
“There`s more freedom,” says Kirke. “There`s not so much pressure – or if there is we`re more equipped to handle it. Bad Company have become very big very quickly, and there`s a parallel to what happened with Free four years ago. But we couldn`t handle it then because we were just wet-behind-the-ears kids. I`m much happier now.” Back to Rodgers: “I`m not saying that we`re all angels, and that we love each other. We argue like…but the point is we respect each other.”
Bad Company are an uncompromising, totally unglamorous and slightly sleazy bunch. They`re not into dressing up -although on stage you`ll find a hint of sequins and satin – and off-stage you`ll find Kirke scruffed up in badged denims, Boz often hung-over and slightly seedy in a well-broken-in fur-coat and Mick Ralphs always charming but casual. And for the greater part of the six-hour coach journey to Newcastle on Friday night, Rodgers had a flecked woollen hat pulled over his thick black hair. He picked up the hat at a Birmingham Woolworth`s which is hardly the kind of shop one expects leading rock stars to tog themselves out at.
Still, Rodgers says he`s totally unconscious of his rock-star-as-erotic-image status.
“I like sex as much as anyone else. I like tight pants, but I don`t try and…,” he pauses, and re-affirms his statement. “I don`t think I project myself as a sex-symbol. I just project the songs I sing.”
Bad Company`s second British tour opened at Ipswich on Thursday evening with what the band call “an OK gig”. With just one day`s rehearsing behind them, it was the first time they`d played together since mid-September when their American tour finished in Boston. The Ipswich gig was essentially a warm-up concert, and the band regard the two nights at Newcastle City Hall – the venue where it all began some eight or so months ago – as the tour`s start proper.
Rather than travelling around in limos, as is the whim of most bands of their status, a coach has been hired – and stacked with generous supplies of Newcastle Brown, one bottle of Blue Nun, bread, butter, and various sandwich fillings. The coach is scheduled to leave their King`s Road office at seven on Friday evening. As the magic hour passes, only Kirke has materialised in the office which also contains their personal manager and one Maggie Bell.
Ms Bell has a new album out in the new year called “Suicide Sal”, and on it is one of Simon Kirke`s songs, “Hold On”. Kirke says he`s not the most prolific of writers, and reckons he`s written some eight tunes in as many years, but “Hold On” took Ms Bell`s fancy. Miming the actions of a drummer, Kirke hears the Bell treatment of his song for the first time as he waits for the rest of the group to show.
“I can only write things that I feel,” says Kirke. “If I go through an emotional experience I`ll get something out of that which is why my output is very small. `Hold On` was written because I couldn`t see anything in the offing after Free. I was trying to boost myself, really.”
Ralphs and Rodgers are next to show, and Boz, hung-over after a hectic night of ligging, the last to appear.
The coach leaves at eight. Rodgers, Kirke and Ralphs play cards (and Stevie lost his wad, snigger, snigger. – Ed.) while Boz recuperates at the rear of the bus. By the time the group arrive in Newcastle, some six hours later, Boz is ready for more, and sits up drinking with the coach driver until past six in the hotel.
Other than preparing for the tour, the group have spent their recent time mixing the second Bad Company album, as yet untitled. Apart from mixing one cut, the album`s completed and should be released early in the New Year – and it`s likely a single will come out a couple of weeks beforehand.
“I think it`s different from the first album,” says Rodgers. “We`ve branched out wider. We use strings on it, which is a thing we`ve never done before. One of the things about this group is that they`re all willing to try things regardless of whether it`s the other person`s idea or not.
“Since the first album we`ve all had a chance to get to know each other. It`s a rooter album.”
Kirke says that the first album was deliberately simple right down to the cover artwork, and he sees the second album as more adventurous – while Ralphs says it`s more assertive.
Despite the group`s overwhelming success Rodgers is emphatic that Bad Company are still in their early stages, “We`re still finding chords we`ve never found before. I think we have a sound which is ours because We`re Us. I would like to think of Bad Company as a group, and not as various individuals that came from other groups. I think we have an identity, but I think we have yet to put it over.
“I don`t think we`re desperately original at all – we try to be ourselves, and we try to write about what we really think about, whether it be love, booze, the music business or Life Itself. I think there`s a lot we can say that will Interest A Lot Of Other People.
“To compare Bad Company with Free is difficult, because Free`s at an end, and we`re at a beginning. I don`t know exactly where it`s going to go, but I like where it`s going.”
And what about Free? Did Rodgers think there was some kind of jinx on the group? “That I`ll never know. There was a time when it was going so well. It seemed like it would go on forever, and it suddenly came crashing down around our ears.
“To tell you the truth, I`ll never really understand exactly what happened. But it did. I had a job accepting that, but eventually I did accept that. I said to myself, `If that`s not going to be together I`d still rather play. So here I go.` And I just went into something else, and now I`ve found satisfaction in doing what I`m doing now.
“I tell you. I admit I`ve changed a lot. I`ve changed a lot because I`ve just begun to see what it really takes to put something together, and I`ve learnt a lot. I`ve realised that I need to be part of a group where everyone in it is equal, and we`re all sparking each other off. I`m very happy with this group because everyone is very relaxed.”
On stage that night in Newcastle, Rodgers is a different person to the amiable poker-playing beer-drinker of the previous evening. He`s every bit an erotic figure, clad in tight black leather pants and white shirt that becomes un-buttoned the longer he is on stage; and his singing is as moving as ever even though it could have been a lot louder.
Opening with a new song “Deal With The Preacher”, the band are tight if rather predictable. Their raw aggression is particularly evident in the following “Rocksteady”, and Kirke, mouth agape and head cocked to one side, is on splendid form, his rudimentary drumming providing a perfect anchor for the group.
The band play three more new songs, of which Rodgers` “Shooting Star” is the most ambitious. “Feel Like Making Love” bears a lot of resemblance to the softer side of Free, and Ralphs` “Good Lovin` Gone Bad” is in the “Can`t Get Enough” tradition, with the guitarist supplying Keith Richard-type chunk chords.
Rodgers is left alone onstage for the acoustic “Seagull” – a track from the “Bad Company” LP. He switches to electric piano for a good version of “Bad Company” and stays there for the old Free number “Easy On My Soul” which has the audience taking up the chorus.
Surprisingly enough, the audience stay seated until the set`s closing “Can`t Get Enough”, and it seems as though a Bad Company audience are into listening as well as bopping. The group encore with “Movin` On” and “The Stealer”.
As Rodgers says, the group are still new and, as yet, they haven`t forged a total identity the way Free did – and I`m still left thinking Free were the better band. But it is early days and, as Rodgers points out, there is no shortage of material.
“I don`t know how many songs I`ve written in the last year, but I can say that me and Mick have an amazing amount of ideas that we put together day by day. A lot of the new album has stemmed from ideas that we both had and put together. I`m just discovering a lot about Mick, and he`s discovering a lot about me. The songs just flow between us.
“I can write a song from imagination. I can imagine a situation, and for some reason it`s a very vivid situation that I write about. On the other hand I can get really mellow.
“`Shooting Star` is the first song that I`ve written that has a definite story” (of a boy who rockets to rock stardom and who eventually dies a rock star death with a bottle of whisky and box of pills by his bedside).
“It just came to me one night, so I started singing it. I sang the first half – and I thought to myself, `Well it`s very weird to include The Beatles in lyrics`. The first line is `Johnny was a schoolboy when he heard his first Beatles` song`. I thought about it, thinking everybody`s heard of The Beatles, and has been affected by The Beatles, so I left the line in and just continued with the song.”
Rodgers goes on to say how “Seagull” came about. “I was sitting on the beach at Portsmouth. I`d been up all night, and I happened to have a guitar on me. It was autumn and the whole place was deserted. `Seagull` sprang from that.”
How about a song like “Wishing Well”?
“At the time I wrote `Wishing Well` I was very concerned about the rest of the group in Free, like Paul Kossoff and Andy Fraser. That song was for them. I wanted them to stop sitting around thinking, and start to do something.”
The conversation turns to Rodgers` love of the Blues – after all, Free were initially a blues group, and a lot of that ancestry is still evident in Bad Company. “I`m very close to the Blues. I think that it expresses a lot for a lot of people `cause it`s so simple. I hate to get too complicated about anything, especially about music.
“The simpler it is the better. I try to put an idea into such a simple form that it`s so easy to understand. Otis Redding did that. He did that track `Change Is Gonna Come`. Man, I can listen to that anytime. If I feel down, he just says it all and makes me feel good. And that`s what I`d like us to do, to make tracks as good as that. I have an ambition, and that`s to turn people on like Otis Redding turned me on.
“I don`t really think I`m the best white singer there is, but I think I`m on the right track. I think Rod Stewart is great. He`s a very different personality to me. He`s very sunny, very bright and very personal with the audience.
“I love to communicate with people but I communicate in a different way. To be honest with you – when I started, I copied Rod Stewart. That track `Rock My Plimsoul` on `Truth` really knocked me out. It still does.”
Apart from Redding and Stewart, Rodgers currently listens a lot to Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Ann Peebles. Did he think it was necessary to suffer to sing the blues with conviction?
“I think it helps. Compared to people like Ray Charles, whatever I`ve suffered is negligible. I`ve been through fairly hard times. It`s not really a thing I like to harp on. I came down to London and I didn`t have any food or anywhere to live, and during that time I picked up on the Blues. It expressed a lot to me regardless of whether I suffered a lot or not. The emotions people go through are really very simple when they`re expressed in a song, but they`re very complicated when you`re alone with them.
“And that`s what I think music can do – express things to people, bring them out of themselves, and make them happy.”
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.
This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: The People of Pan, The Pretty Things, Wings, Bruce Johnston, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, Robert Fripp, Chaka Khan, David Essex, Brian Eno, Noah Howard, Mott The Hoople.
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