For whatever deepness they wanted to portray, “Live For The Music” states the purpose pretty well, explaining the recipe that just might “rock and roll” one’s blues away, complete with a prominent Boz Burrell bass line that underscores (or at least suggests) his importance to the equation. Still, while The Music was key to what made them what they were, “Simple Man” takes a familiar theme and marries it to a nice drop-D motif, so Paul Rodgers can declare that “freedom is the only thing that means a damn to me.” Well, it was the ‘70s. Such freedom would allow him to sidle up next to “Honey Child”, who had driven him wild since she was only 17. She must not have bought it, since the simple piano exercise of “Love Me Somebody” sets us up for the pounding title track. There have been some rockers so far, but that piano is tough to beat. Its relentless pace must have been tough on the band, as it moves into an extended coda that does not fail to stir.
In case you didn’t get enough piano, “Silver Blue & Gold” is another departure, a midtempo pop song that makes good use of harmony vocals. Lest you think they’re getting too full of themselves, it’s followed by a nice romp though “Young Blood”. This one might have been familiar to any young kids who’d seen (or heard) the Concert for Bangla Desh, but the distinctly British response vocals are hysterical. “Do Right By Your Woman” is a lovely sentiment over a campfire strum, but the real emotion is clear in “Sweet Lil’ Sister”, which cranks it up a couple of notches. Finally, “Fade Away” marries a mournful piano to a suitable string arrangement, providing a somber finale to the record.
Run With The Pack gets the recipe right, as long as you skip track one. There’s enough variety to keep it from being as much of a carbon copy as Straight Shooter was to the debut, making it more of an album you’d want to play again. And the band must have known it was worth something, since they had to pay all that money to have Bugs Bunny in the gatefold. (The eventual expanded edition presented most of the album in early mixes, showing how much the string arrangements added to the songs that had them. The acoustic B-side version of “Do Right By Your Woman” is nice to have in context, though the otherwise unreleased “Let There Be Love” and the jam on “(I Know) I’m Losing You” aren’t any great shakes.)
Bad Company Run With The Pack (1976)—3½
2017 Deluxe Edition: same as 1976, plus 14 extra tracks