Monday, September 9, 2013

Bad Company 2: Straight Shooter

Smart guys with smarter management, Bad Company’s second album is mostly a reiteration of the first, lacking only, believe it or not, variety. Straight Shooter doesn’t screw around with experimentation, going right to the wallets of the kids lucky enough to drive to school with 8-track players in their dashboards.
Because it’s the law, the rocker starts off the first side. “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” has all the ingredients of “Can’t Get Enough”, from the catchy riff, strict verse-chorus-repeat format and hanging ending. Unfortunately, side one also features two of the most tediously inane songs ever, probably playing on some Clear Channel station before lunch. If somebody can figure out a decent mashup of this particular “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and the Roberta Flack song, the planet may yet be saved. Simon Kirke gets credit for “Weep No More”, which sounds shorter than it is, using strings to add drama. It’s a nice surprise the first time, since up next is the cautionary tale of Johnny, the one and only “Shooting Star”. We’d like to think these rock veterans knew just how fleeting and fickle fame could be, but that’s suggesting they were thinking about it. If the song has a saving grace, it’s the last couple of minutes where Paul Rodgers veers from the lyrics to wail along with the solo. (As dumb as the song is, it didn’t stop Joe Jackson from writing his own story of Johnny, followed a year later by Jon Bon Jovi using the same title.)
“Deal With The Preacher” is a welcome return to locomotive rock, filtering the style of “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” to come up with another ready-made hit, but that’s about it for the true toe-tappers. “Wild Fire Woman” is fine while it’s one, but is just too generic to stick. “Anna” is another slow one from Simon Kirke, and nobody told him that the opening rips off Joe Cocker’s version of “With A Little Help From My Friends”. Somehow “Call On Me” deserved six minutes of time to close out the side.
We shouldn’t be too touch on the album, as it was recorded only months after the first one. Straight Shooter delivers bona fide stupid rock, and sometimes that’s just what one needs. And there are people out there who still get a thrill from hearing “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and “Shooting Star”. But the band was capable of more than that, or so it would seem.
Forty years later, the album was remastered, which brought out some nuances otherwise lost on the radio. The Deluxe Edition provided alternate mixes and/or takes of every song on the album—“Call On Me” and the slower “Weep No More” are surprisingly good—plus such outtakes as yet another stab at “Easy On My Soul” and two otherwise unreleased songs. “See The Sunlight” is heavy on organ, Leslie guitar and slide, while “All Night Long” is a little too generic, with a riff used better in “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad”. For completeness’ sake, the B-side “Whiskey Bottle” closes the package.

Bad Company Straight Shooter (1975)—3
2015 Deluxe Edition: same as 1975, plus 15 extra tracks

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