Straight Shooter

Bad Company

Swan Song Records, 1975

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


1975 was probably the year that everything gelled for Paul Rodgers and the members of Bad Company. They had their debut album under their belts, and had garned some well-deserved attention for their efforts. Now, the question was how would they follow it up.

The answer came in the form of Straight Shooter, an album which featured better production and even better songwriting. And while they still occasionally dipped their feet into the waters of all-too-slow ballads, the album showed major improvements for the group.

These days, you can't go anywhere without hearing some classic rock station playing "Shooting Star" or "Feel Like Makin' Love" to death - a shame, since these songs are still incredible numbers. But I have to admit, after the 2,000th time hearing the same song, it does become a little grating on the nerves. That's why I occasionally like to dust off this record from the Pierce Memorial Archives and hear the songs in the environment they were made for - namely, the context of the whole album.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But Straight Shooter is much more than just the two hit songs. On one side, you have guitarist Mick Ralphs musically cutting the rug on "Good Lovin' Gone Bad," demonstrating why he could well have been one of the best unheralded guitarists of this time. On the other side, you have Rodgers leading the group through a gentle rocker like "Call On Me," a track which is able to overcome a rather weak intro to become a pretty enjoyable track.

Possibly the best track on this album you've never heard is "Wild Fire Woman," a song which allows the band to revel in their bluesy roots while giving them the musical freedom to explore new territories of the groove. If any of Bad Company's songs deserved the chance to become a hit single, this one is at or near the top of my list.

Yet Straight Shooter shows that Bad Company - in particular, drummer Simon Kirke - still had a penchant for the saccharine-sweet ballad that had neither spark nor spice. "Weep No More" and "Anna" threaten to derail Bad Company's momentum for a few minutes; fortunately, they follow these tracks up with solid numbers.

And yet, 25 years after its release, Straight Shooter hardly sounds dated, though its instrumentation is a bit minimal. (In a sense, that's good; at least they weren't padding the sessions with any musician they could find on a street corner like some bands tend to do these days.)

If there was ever any doubt about Bad Company's potential, Straight Shooter should have convinced people that the band's success was no crap shoot. This is still one of the band's most revered albums - and even with an occasional mis-step, one can easily understand why.

Rating: B+

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Swan Song Records, and is used for informational purposes only.