Niagara Gazette

July 15, 2013

Paul Rodgers back with the band at Artpark

Thom Jennings
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Bad Company will be in good company Tuesday night when they perform a completely sold-out performance at Artpark. The band was one of the major super-groups of the early 1970s, featuring former Free vocalist Paul Rodgers, former Free drummer Simon Kirke, former Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs and former King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell.

The current lineup features Rodgers, Kirke and Ralphs along with former Heart guitarist Howard Leese and bassist Todd Roning (original bassist Boz Burrell passed away in 2006).

The opening act for the show is The Billy Spanton Band. What makes Billy an unusual choice as an opener is that he once played in a Bad Company tribute band called Straight Shooter, handling the vocals and guitar. He also won a local “sing like Kenny Chesney” contest. This guy’s vocal chops must be good!

Bad Company formed in 1973 and released their eponymous debut a year later. That album is one of classic rock’s best albums and includes the songs “Bad Company”, Rock Steady”, “Ready for Love”, “Can’t Get Enough” and “Movin’ On.” It also includes a personal favorite, “Seagull.”

The band’s second album, “Straight Shooter” contained the rock radio hits “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” and “Shooting Star,” a song about the early deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison.

Their third album “Run With Pack” was the band’s first platinum selling album, even though it contained far fewer recognizable songs than their first two. Their fourth album, “Burnin’ Sky” failed to do as well as its predecessor.

Their fifth album, “Desolation Angels” is my personal favorite. It contains the songs “Rock and Roll Fantasy,” the first 45 rpm record I ever purchased with my own money. It didn’t take long for me to buy the album and I wore down the grooves to the point that the crackles were louder than the music.

Another great song on the album is “Gone, Gone, Gone” written by the late Boz Burrell. Paul Rodgers dedicated the song to Burrell’s memory on their “Hard Rock Live” album.

The last album with Rodgers was “Rough Diamonds,” which contained the moderate hit, “Electricland.” The recording sessions for the album were reported to be tumultuous, and the album itself is by far the weakest from the Paul Rogers lineup.

After Rodgers left, Bad Company had some success with Brian Howe on lead vocals. How originally performed in Ted Nugent’s band with current REO Speedwagon guitarist Dave Amato (who recently played at Artpark).

After four albums with Howe on lead vocals, Bad Company released their last full album of new material with Robert Hart on vocals. Hart also rerecorded many of Paul Rodgers’ tracks both live and in the studio,

This year Bad Company celebrates their 40th anniversary, and there is no better way the band could celebrate it other than having Paul Rodgers back where he belongs, at the helm of the band.

Over the years Rodgers has been with Free and even did a stint as the vocalist for Queen, but I honestly cannot wait to hear him sing the opening lines of “Bad Company,” on Tuesday. If you were lucky enough to get tickets to the show you can enjoy the moment with me.

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for the Gazette.