Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Crawler - 1978 - Snake Rattle and Roll

Snake Rattle and Roll 

01. Sail On – 3:59
02. Disc Heroes – 3:20
03. How Will You Break My Heart – 3:43
04. Muddy Water – 4:07
05. First Class Operator – 3:30
06. Where Is The Money – 4:24
07. Hold On – 1:43
08. Midnight Blues – 4:18
09. Liar – 3:40
10. One Way Street – 4:45

Terry Slesser / Vocals
Geoff Whitehorn / Guitar
Tony Braunagel / Drums, Vocals
John “Rabbit” Bundrick / Keyboards
Terry Wilson / Bass

The band released Snake Rattle and Roll in 1978, a slightly more commercial album targeting mainly the US market. The album received a lot of airplay, but limited sales. “How Will You Break My Heart” and “Where Is The Money?”; broken hearts and money, or lack of it, were themes in many of Crawler’s songs.

An exhaustive series of live performances found Crawler as support band for the likes of Robin Trower, Cheap Trick, and Foreigner and a 54 date tour across the USA as support band for Kansas. At the end of a USA tour in December 1978, keyboard player John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick left to work with “The Who” and the band folded soon after.

The melodic aspects hinted at on Crawler come into full bloom on this album to great effect as the band move further away from their blues-rock origins to create a much fuller, richer sound. The songs are distinctive and the harmony singing adds an extra dimension. 

Snake, Rattle & Roll is the best effort served-up from Crawler, which features more rock than previous efforts, yet retains the vital blues influence. Released in 1978, when rock 'n' roll was not in vogue, the album was recorded at the Caribou Ranch in Colorado, with Gary Lyons holding down the production. The songwriting is solid and the recording is tight throughout this collection of ten tracks.   

The disc contains 37-minutes of quality music, which is kick started by the first cut "Sail On". Other stellar tracks on offer here include "One Way Street", "Muddy Water" (which was originally recorded by Free for their last studio work Heartbreaker), and "Midnight Blues". 

A marvellous effort that got submerged in a music scene dominated by the squalid world of punk.

Crawler - 1977 - Crawler


01. Without You Baby
02. You Got Money
03. Sold On Down The Line
04. One Too Many Lovers
05. You Are My Saviour
06. Pastime Dreamer
07. Never Loved A Woman
08. You And Me
09. Stone Cold Sober

Terry Slesser / Vocals
Geoff Whitehorn / Guitar
Tony Braunagel / Drums, Vocals
John “Rabbit” Bundrick / Keyboards
Terry Wilson / Bass

Ted Bunting / Saxophone
Chris Wood / Flute
Tony Carr / Percussion
Stevie Lange / Vocals

Crawler was a band created from the ashes of “Back Street Crawler”, following the death of guitarist, Paul Kossoff. Atlantic Records suggested the band continue with another well-known guitarist, ex-Rolling Stone Mick Taylor or they’d be dropped. Despite being broke, they declined, instead recruiting Geoff Whitehorn, previously with the band “If”.

The band abbreviated their name to Crawler, and the eponymous first album, Crawler, was released in 1977 on Epic. Despite being well-written, superbly recorded, and receiving good reviews, it struggled in the year of disco, punk rock and new wave.

The band toured the UK with Boxer and Moon in a successful three-band package tour. Their distinctive live sound was dominated by Whitehorn’s guitar and Rabbit’s swirling keyboards.

Back Street Crawler - 1983 - Croydon June 15th 1975

Back Street Crawler 
Croydon June 15th 1975

01. The Band Plays On
02. Sidekick To The Stars
03. It's A Long Way Down To The Top
04. New York New York
05. Train Song
06. Survivor
07. Stealing My Way
08. All The Girls Are Crazy
09. Jason Blue
10. Rock 'N' Roll Junkie
11. Molten Gold

Recorded Live at Croydon June 15th 1975.

Bass – Terry Wilson
Drums – Tony Braunagel
Guitar – Paul Kossoff
Keyboards – Mike Montgomery
Vocals – Terry Wilson-Slesser

in 1983 the British Street Tunes label released "Croydon June 15th, 1975".   A double album concert set, the collection captured Back Street Crawler at the end of their debut UK tour playing material that would end up on the debut LP.  

Back Street Crawler - 1976 - Second Street

Back Street Crawler 
Second Street

01. Selfish Lover
02. Blue Soul
03. Stop Doing What You’re Doing
04. Raging River
05. Some Kind of Happy
06. Sweet, Sweet Beauty
07. Just for You
08. On Your Life
09. Leaves in the Wind

Terry Slesser – vocals
Paul Kossoff – guitar
Terry Wilson – bass
John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick – keyboards
Tony Braunagel – drums

Such is the way with life that when you think things are on the up and you are finally heading into some clear water a huge great tidal wave comes along and turns your world upside down all over again. Even to the point of destroying it completely. That, sadly, was the case for poor old, although old is hardly a appropriate term for one so young,  Paul Kossoff. His past tribulations and highs and lows have been well documented. From the personal pride and bewilderment he felt when his hero Jimi Hendrix took him to one side and asked him to show him how he got ‘that sound’ out of his guitar to the disgrace and embarrasment of having to have Simon Kirke placing his fingers on the fretboard to remind him how to play ‘All Right Now’ when in a drug crazed stupor before one of the final tragic Free gigs. So no need to go into any depth with that here. 

After Free Kossoff formed Back Street Crawler, a band he named after his solo album of a couple of years earlier and they put out a decent enough blues rock debut album and embarked on a headlining UK tour. The tour was cutshort though due to Kossoff suffering a heart attack and being declared clinically dead for almost 30 minutes. It was after this though that things began to pick up. A reasonably well recovered Kossoff had regained a little of his old enthusiasm and the arrival of old mate John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick to replace the less suitable Mike Montgomery on keyboards had also given him a lift. Headlining shows at the Starwood Club in Los Angeles, where old mates Bad Company came along to jam seemed to signify Kossoff was on the way back and optimism was at its highest point for some time. 

“Second Street” was recorded in various studios in America during Kossoff’s rehabilitation period and for this reason Snuffy Walden who had helped out on the final Free album again took some of the guitar parts when Kossoff was too ill to play. Despite this though it is clear from listening to the album that Kossoff was regaining his enthusiasm and things were definately on the up. The nine track album features four from the pen of bass player Terry Wilson, not to be confused with vocalist Terry Wilson-Slessor and four from keyboard man Rabbit, two of them co written with Dean Rutherford and just the one group composition. 

Things get under way with ‘Selfish Lover’ a reasonably fast paced opener. The first thing that hits you is that the addition of Bundrick in place of Montgomery has given them more of a Free feel. Kossoff seems happier and his playing is very reminiscent of the last two Free albums, particularly Heartbreaker. Although he didn’t play on all of that album much of what he did play was some of his best work. The track features lots of flashing solo notes across riffs and vocals alike. ‘Blue Soul’ has a nice gentle acoustic guitar opening with some lovely piano underneath. Former Beckett man Terry Wilson-Slessor who is not unlike Paul Rodgers in delivery belts out a superb soulful vocal which compliments the melody perfectly. The guitar and keyboards are working well in unison as ever with Kossoff and Bundrick. What could have been little more than a simple blues soul track is turned into an atmospheric peice thanks to the powerful little sections alongside the gentleness of the main part of the song. Of course the classic weeping Kossoff guitar gives it its own majesty. ‘Stop Doing What You’re Doing’, the only group composition, is energetic and fast paced with a funky beat. Kossoff playing some great funky riffs underneath the main body of the song. Kossoff plays it like an instrumental never wasting an opportunity to flash a few notes tastefully across track. It is almost constant soloing, even behind the vocal which is rhythmically repetative but not to the point of monotony. The back end of the song takes a progression not unlike the Don Nix track ‘Going Down’. ‘Raging River’ is another track with an acoustic opening before it builds up to a better than average mid tempo folk blues track. The first half of the album ends with ‘Some Kind of Happy’ which is a truly wonderful blues soul song. With great backing vocals and a superb lead vocal delivery from Wilson-Slessor the song is packed full of emotion. As you can imagine it features more great classic Kossoff guitar. His Gibson weeping and wailing mournfully in a style not unlike that on ’Come Together In The Morning’. The song has a great climax and is easily my favourite on the album. It is just one of those songs that hits a spot and stays with you forever. 

The second half starts with ‘Sweet Beauty’ another one with a gentle opening before it builds up into a slightly faster track. A nice vehicle for Wilson-Slessor and Kossoff it is one of the shortest songs on the album and one of the least impressive. The bar is set high here though so it is still a fine track. ‘Just For You’ is a moodier bluesier song featuring a strong riff with atmospheric organ underneath. The drums of Tony Braunagel are very much to the fore here even more so than on the majority of the album. Braunagel is from the same mould as Simon Kirke, simple and effective without being overly flashy. Kossoff though flashes some great mini solo’s inbetween the verses and during the lyrics. One of Kossoff’s many qualities as a guitarist was that he was happy for the vocalist to sing over his soling. This gave his guitar a far more human crying sound and also didn’t do the vocalist any harm either as it added even more emotion to the vocal. It is tracks like this one that make you realise what a pity it was that Kossoff and Rabbit didn’t get to record with each other more as they blend perfectly and compliment each other superbly. Wilson-Slessor must have felt all his Christmases had come at once to have such great instrumentalists complimenting his vocals. ‘On Your Life’ is a good mid tempo track which is even more reminiscent of Heartbreaker era Free than the rest of the album. With a superb melody, some top notch Rabbit keyboards and another good vocal from Wilson-Slessor it is in the same vein as Bundrick’s best ever composition ‘Muddy Water’. The best compliment I can give Wilson-Slessor is that despite this whole album sounding very much like Free you never find yourself wondering if the songs would have been better sung by Paul Rodgers. Now that has to be close to the highest praise you can heap on any vocalist ….. it certainly is from me. Quite why Wilson-Slessor hasn’t had a more illustrious career is another one of those infuriating rock ‘n’ roll mysteries. ‘Leaves In The Wind’ is a faster jazzier type track with Kossoff and Rabbit playing some interesting jazz like runs under the vocal and Rabbit driving the song along with some great keyboard and piano work. Kossoff of course shines with a great slow lingering blues solo or two. It is a great laid back ending to what is an incredibly good album. 

Sadly as I mentioned earlier the floor was pulled away from under the tragic Kossoff before the completed album hit the streets and “Second Street”, which remains strangely obscure, wasn’t released until after he had passed away on internal US flight on 19th March 1976. The world had lost one of its greatest guitarists but he left us one last peice of magic which finally hit the streets the following month. Where would Kossoff have gone had he survived, how would he have developed. Sadly we will never know but track this album down and give it a spin. You certainly won’t be disappointed. I’m not ashamed to say there is a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat as I write these words and the last notes of ‘Leaves In The Wind’ fade away...

Back Street Crawler - 1975 - Band Plays On

Back Street Crawler 
Band Plays On 

01. Who Do Women
02. New York, New York
03. Stealing My Way
04. Survivor
05. It’s A Long Way Down To The Top
06. All The Girls Are Crazy
07. Jason Blue
08. Train Song
09. Rock & Roll Junkie
10. The Band Plays On

- Paul Kossoff / Guitar
- Mike Montgomery / Keyboards, Vocals
- Terry Wilson / bass
- Terry Wilson-Slesser / vocals
- Tony Braunagel / Drums, Vocals
- George Larnyoh / Wind
- George Lee / Flute, Soprano Sax, Tenor Sax
- Eddie Quansah / Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Horn
- Peter VanDer Puije / Baritone Sax

Just as Ritchie Blackmore replaced the guitar player of Elf with himself and became Blackmore’s Rainbow. Paul Kossoff replaces the guitar player from the band Bloontz, and renames the band Back Street Crawler, naming it after his solo album. Their debut album hit the shelves in 1975.

The song “Jason Blue” is a powerful potion, one that would fit perfectly on a classic hits station, arguably one of the best tracks here. It is one of six compositions by Mike Montgomery, the major force on this album. Montgomery co-writes two additional tunes and sings lead on “All the Girls Are Crazy” and “Survivor”, dueting with Terry Wilson-Slesser on “New York, New York”.

The more you play “Band Plays On”, the more it grows on you. Sounding so much like Bad Company was no doubt a drawback — the records showing up in the same section alphabetically at retail bins, their names so closely aligned, the unfortunate big difference for Back Street Crawler was no hit single emerging from this set. “It’s a Long Way Down to the Top” could be Bad Company performing “Ready for Love”, down to the riff and the mood.

Nevertheless, so many references to that band don’t take away from the fact that this is a solid ’70s blues-rock disc with hooks, top-notch production, and lots to offer. This material is terrific sleeper stuff for the ’70s hard rock genre, before Foreigner made that whole world much slicker. Back Street Crawler creates real hard rock art.

Bloontz - 1973 - Bloontz


01. The Joke's On You 3:15
02. Jason Blue 3:33
03. You Ain't Your Body 2:25
04. Arena 2:30
05. Long Way Down 3:53
06. Prodigal 3:30
07. Sunshine Masquerade 3:10
08. Ramon 3:30
09. Light Up The World 5:15

Bass, Guitar – Terry Wilson
Drums, Percussion – Tony Braunagel
Guitar – David L. Kealey
Keyboards – Michael John Montgomery
Lead Vocals – Andy Chapman
Backing Vocals – Linda Lawley, Margaret Dorn, Sharon Redd, Zenobia

Based in Houston, Texas and originally known as The Bloontz All Star Blues Band, the group featured the talents of drummer Tony Braunagel, singer Andy Chapman, lead guitarist David Kealey, keyboardist Mike Montgomery, and former Blackwell bassist Terry Wilson.  They relocated to New York in 1972 and shortened their name to Bloontz, scoring a contract with the Evolution label.  Produced by Ron Johnsen, 1973's cleverly-titled "Bloontz" wasn't half bad.  Mind you, none of the nine tracks was going to win an award for originality, but in the AOR genre the songs (with three of the five members contributing material), were quite varied and the performances were virtually all enjoyable.  As lead singer Chapman had a voice that was near perfect for album oriented rockers - tough, rugged, but quite commercial.  Imagine Paul Rodgers had he been born and raised in Texas.  The rest of the band were also quite good with guitarist Kealey deserving special notice for his tasteful solos. 

There is a huge connection between this next hard rock band “Bloontz” and “Kiss”. Apart from playing together in the early 70's, some members of “Bloontz” were credited on the ‘Lyn Christopher’ album with Gene Simmons.Bloontz was comprised of Tony Braunagel (drums), Andy Chapman (vocals), David Kealey (guitars), Michael Montgomery (keyboards), and Terry Wilson (bass, guitar) and had originally been brought from Houston, Texas to New York City by producer Ron Johnsen. The lead singer of the band was also a good friend of Robbie Leff who would write parts of the music to the Patti Dahlstrom song “Weddin’” which was recorded on the Lyn Christopher album with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley on backing vocals. Like KISS, it is likely that Bloontz’s involvement in the library benefit was a result of Ron Johnsen who lived next door to the benefit’s organizer. Three of the members of Bloontz, Michael Montgomery, Tony Braunagel, and Terry Wilson were session players on the Lyn Christopher. Since the three are credited as appearing courtesy of Evolution Records on the album’s rear credits it is likely that their album came out prior to Lyn’s or was at least being recorded during the same time period. 
Backing vocalists on the “Bloontz” album would include Margaret Dorn, Linda Lawley, Sharon Redd, and Zenobia. The first three of these vocalists would also sing backing vocals with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley on the Lyn Christopher album. Naturally, Ron Johnsen is the other connection having produced Wicked Lester’s album and managed KISS during part of their early career. Both the Bloontz and Lyn Christopher albums were recorded at Electric Lady Studios. Bloontz didn’t make it as an act and three of the members (Terry, Michael, and Tony) teamed up with ex-Free guitarist Paul Kossoff in Back Street Crawler who competed with the other ex-Free member’s band Bad Company. Back Street Crawler had also included John “Rabbit” Bundrick who had been in a band, Blackwell, with Terry Wilson, and who replaced Montgomery on keyboards following the release of the band’s first album. They had released a self-titled album in 1970. The band released two albums, “The Band Plays On” and “Second Street” prior to Kossoff’s death.

Paul Kossoff - 1973 - Back Street Crawler

Paul Kossoff 
Back Street Crawler

01. Tuesday Morning 17:39
02. I'm Ready 2:25
03. Time Away 5:48
04. Molton Gold 5:51
05. Back Street Crawler (Don't Need You No More) 4:10

Bass – Alan Spenner, Andy Fraser, Tetsu Yamauchi, Trevor Burton
Drums – Alan White, Simon Kirke
Electric Piano – Jean Rousell
Guitar – John Martyn
Keyboards – Rabbit
Lead Guitar – Paul Kossoff
Vocals – Jess Roden, Paul Rodgers

In the 1960s, England was up to its eyeballs in white-boy blues bands. This was the golden age of the guitar player, when people like Clapton, Beck, and Page became recognized names the world over. But for every Cream, Yardbirds, or Led Zeppelin, there were scores of other groups working the same circuit, trying their damndest to break through. Free was such a band.

Between Paul Rodgers’ wailing, Simon Kirke’s tremendous backbeat, and the steady bass lines of Andy Fraser, Free had more than enough talent. And they had another weapon: Paul Kossoff, a player who brought it all together and elevated their music into the stratosphere.

Kossoff didn’t have the dexterity of Clapton, the finesse of Beck, or the bombast of Page, but he had an innate knowledge of how to do more with less, an instinct to make each note matter musically and emotionally. Sadly, Kossoff died from a drug-related heart attack at 25 during a flight from L.A. to New York, robbing the world of a unique talent. His memory lives on through his music and through the longtime anti-substance abuse efforts of the Paul Kossoff Foundation.

Paul Kossoff was born on September 14, 1950, in Hampstead, a London suburb. He was gifted with the performance gene from birth. His father, David, was a well-regarded film and television actor who would go on to win Most Promising Newcomer to Film at the 1955 BAFTA award ceremony.

Kossoff took to music early, commencing classical guitar lessons at age 10. “My dad said that if Paul wanted to play guitar, which he did of course, he had to learn to do it properly,” recalled Paul’s brother Simon in an interview with Gibson. “He went to a teacher in Golders Green, in North London, who taught him to read music, but he was partially dyslexic and wasn’t actually reading the music—he was mirroring her and remembering everything. He definitely had an innate talent for guitar.”

As much as Kossoff loved the guitar, the classical lessons grated on him, and he gave them up after a few years. His guitar sabbatical was short lived, however. Kossoff caught a performance by Eric Clapton at a John Mayall gig in 1965, and after seeing what Clapton was doing with the blues, his passion for the guitar was reignited. He resumed lessons, this time with noted session musician Colin Falconer.

Clapton became a looming figure in the young guitarist’s mind, and Kossoff went out of his way to emulate Slowhand. Kossoff’s first electric guitar was a cheap gold knockoff model made by the Italian manufacturer Eko that simply wouldn’t do. Looking to upgrade, Kossoff took a job at the venerable London music shop Selmer’s, where he came face to face with some of the day’s leading players.

While manning the floor one day, he happened to meet a hot new prospect fresh off the plane from America: Jimi Hendrix. “He had an odd look about him and smelled strange,” Kossoff recalled in interview with Steven Rosen for Guitar Player in 1976. “He started playing some chord stuff like in ‘Little Wing,’ and the salesman looked at him and couldn’t believe it. Just seeing him really freaked me out. I just loved him to death. He was my hero.”

Kossoff was eventually able to purchase his first Gibson guitar. “I got myself a Gibson Les Paul Junior, which was the cheapest Gibson around at the time,” he said. “Then I had this obsession about getting a ‘real’ Les Paul after seeing Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton play them.” The real Les Paul he eventually acquired was a black 1954 Custom equipped with dual P-90 pickups, an instrument allegedly owned and played by Clapton himself. The guitar became his prized possession, and he spent hours bent over it, mastering the many blues licks and solos he’d come to love.

Kossoff started his own blues band called Black Cat Bones in 1966 and hit the London club scene. In the early years, the band had trouble breaking through to the mainstream, and the lineup changed often. Most importantly for Kossoff though, was the experience of playing the music he loved in front of people willing to hear it. Even more vital were the dates where Black Cat Bones supported another up-and-coming blues act called Fleetwood Mac. Kossoff spent many hours jamming with Fleetwood Mac founder/lead guitarist Peter Green and picking his brain, a significant experience in Kossoff’s development as a player.

In 1968 Kossoff and his band were in search of a new drummer when they came across Simon Kirke, who was in the audience at a Black Cat Bones gig after hearing through the grapevine that the group might be interested in his services. “I saw them and collared Paul Kossoff at the bar. I was overjoyed at being in a real live professional blues band,” Kirke told Jo Rishton for The Beat Goes On and On. “He was a bit of an artful dodger back then—he was funny, witty, full of life,” Kirke said of Kossoff in a separate interview with Get Ready To Rock.

With Kirke providing the backbeat, things started to move. In 1968 the group was given the plum assignment of backing acclaimed blues pianist Champion Jack Dupree for the record When You Feel the Feeling You Was Feeling, and subsequently joined him on a U.K. tour. After the tour Kossoff and Kirke decided to part with Black Cat Bones and form a new outfit all their own.

Vocalist Paul Rodgers and Kossoff ran in the same circles and had met many times, but hadn’t yet played together. When they finally did in 1968, it was a transformative experience. “The first official time I met him I was playing in a blues club called the Fickle Pickle in Finsbury Park,” Rodgers told Premier Guitar in a recent interview. “I had a blues band at the time called Brown Sugar. We used to do two 45-minute spots with a break in between. Koss came up for the second set and said, ‘I’d like to come for a jam.’ I said, ‘Have you got a guitar with you?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got my Les Paul in the car.’

So he brought his guitar in and we jammed—a really heart-stopping jam. We did ‘Stormy Monday Blues,’ B.B. King, and a couple of other things, and it was like time stood still. It was such an amazing thing that when we came off stage I said to him, ‘Man, we have to form a band.’ The seeds of Free were born right there.”

The members of Free were remarkably young when they formed the group. Kossoff was 17, Rodgers and Kirke were 18, and bassist Andy Fraser was a mere 15. Despite this, each member already had a taste for the road after serving in other bands.

What bound Free more than anything else—especially Kossoff and Rodgers—was their unconditional love of the blues. “We used to listen to Albert King and B.B. King—especially B.B. King’s Live at the Regal and Albert King’s Born Under a Bad Sign—and we’d say that the two of us made one of them,” Rodgers recalls with a laugh. “The way B.B. or Albert would play and then answer themselves, we kind of picked up on that and consciously tried to emulate that and incorporate it into the music we did.”

Still without a band name, the quartet booked their first show at a modest club in London, where one of the kings of the nascent British Blues scene offered to help them out. “Alexis Korner had a band called Free at Last,” Simon Kirke said in The Beat Goes On and On. “When he saw us at the Nag’s Head in Battersea after our first rehearsal he suggested that, but we kind of whittled it down to Free.”

With a little help from Korner, Free inked a deal with Island Records. Their first album, Ton of Sobs, was in the canwithin six months of the band’s formation. For the sessions, Kossoff brought out a duo of Les Pauls, including a now-fabled late-era sunburst model, which was later stripped and painted black, as well as a black three-pickup custom. Along with the likes of Clapton, Page, and Keith Richards, Kossoff did much to popularize the defunct ’burst line of Les Pauls.

Tons of Sobs was recorded on a modest budget of £800 and was in some respects a recorded version of the band’s live set. “In those days, and particularly for the first album, we didn’t do what became the normal and block out a studio for a month at a time,” Rodgers recalls. “When we went in, we’d drop in, do a couple of tracks, and we’d have some band from South Ealing or somewhere peeping in the door going, ‘Are you guys finished yet?’”

After completing their first album, Free went on the road to try and make a name for themselves. Dwarfed by a column of Marshall stacks—Super Lead heads and 4x12 cabinets with bass speakers installed—Kossoff managed to make up for his diminutive height through sheer volume.

In addition to lead guitar duties, Kossoff was given another important task. “None of the rest of the band members had a driving license,” explains Rodgers. “Paul had started young and he had one, so he got the gig of driving us. He would drive us two or three hundred miles, do a couple of shows, and drive back. I used to sit in the front with him just to keep him awake.”

Not long after Tons of Sobs was released, the band was back in the studio working on its second record, the self-titled Free. This time the group was produced by the president of the label, Chris Blackwell. Things were much tighter, with the main songwriting duo of Rodgers and Fraser imposing a stricter framework.

Like the band’s debut, Free didn’t do much on the charts. Almost immediately after they finished recording, the group resumed its breakneck touring schedule, supporting the supergroup Blind Faith on its only American tour. Kossoff and Clapton became quite close, discussing the finer points of their respective techniques and even trading a couple of guitars. Clapton exchanged a 1959 Gibson Les Paul for Kossoff’s mid-’50s Custom. It was on this tour that Clapton supposedly tried to cop Kossoff’s famed vibrato technique, a tale confirmed by Rodgers. “I wasn’t privy to the actual conversation, but they did talk vibrato, that’s for sure,” he says.

As the ’60s gave way to the ’70s, Free reached a tipping point. They’d recorded two albums, experienced modest success, and performed a truly staggering number of live shows. But the band began to wonder where they would ever actually make it.

Then in June of 1970, Fire and Water hit the shelves with the force of an atomic blast. The record became Free’s breakthrough, led by the single “All Right Now,” which reached No. 2 on the U.K. charts and No. 4 in America. Just two months later, Free played the biggest gig of their career in front of an estimated 600,000 people as part of England’s Isle of Wight Festival.

With greater success came new tensions. Feeling pressure to prove that their success wasn’t a fluke, the band rushed to record its next album, Highway. Compared to Fire and Water, Highway was a commercial disappointment, only reaching No. 41 on the U.K. charts and 190 in America. Meanwhile, Kossoff, depressed by the death of his hero Jimi Hendrix, began self-medicating with Quaaludes.

When Free decided to call it quits in 1971, Kossoff took it harder than anyone. “What I think we lacked was management,” posits Rodgers. “We lacked an older, wiser head to say, ‘Okay you guys, you’re under a lot of stress, you’ve done too many shows, you have this huge success all of a sudden, you need to take a break.’ We didn’t do that of course, and we just kind of exploded apart. We had been together for such a long time, living so close, seeking success, and when we finally reached it, there was so much pressure.”

After the breakup Kossoff collaborated with Free bandmate Kirke, along with Japanese bassist Tetsu Yamauchi and keyboardist John “Rabbit” Bundrick to release Kossoff/ Kirke/Tetsu/Rabbit. By this time Kossoff was in bad shape, as was apparent to all who knew him. “It was such a shame—he seemed to go down so fast,” recalls Rodgers. “I was mortified that the split-up of the band had affected him so deeply. He was almost gone to us at that point, because he was sort of off in this other world. It was such a shame because we all loved him so much, and we immediately dropped everything we were doing to try and put the band back together again so that we could put Koss back together.”

The band managed to record a few albums during its brief resurgence: 1971’s Free Live and the studio efforts Free at Last and Heartbreaker in ’72 and ’73, respectively. Their tours, however, were hampered by Kossoff’s unreliability. The band called it quits for good in 1973.

Rodgers says the group was never able to recover from the turmoil of the earlier dissolution. “Splitting up was big news. It was official, and it was headline news: ‘Free Splits Up.’ All of a sudden, the spell was broken between us, and when we got back together again it just wasn’t the same. It was hard to rekindle what we had prior to all that.”

Kossoff immediately began working on his first solo record, Back Street Crawler, which featured guest appearances by his former Free bandmates as well as Alan White of Yes. The record was widely acclaimed but didn’t live up to the popularity of Free’s music. Kossoff then formed a band named Back Street Crawler and released The Band Plays On in 1975.

As the years wore on, Kossoff’s drug dependency worsened. “The big problem with Koss was he couldn't say no, and there were always people ready to take advantage,” Back Street Crawler manager Mike Green explained in an interview with Get Ready To Rock. “We were recording the first Back Street Crawler album at Olympic Studios, and every night I had to search everywhere, including the toilets, to make sure nobody had left any little presents for him. But no matter how thoroughly you searched there were times when he would still manage to get out of it. He wasn't addicted to anything in particular—he would take anything he could get his hands on.”

Back Street Crawler embarked on a headlining tour of the U.K. in 1975, but it was cancelled midway through when Kossoff developed a debilitating stomach ulcer. While getting treatment, Kossoff suffered a massive heart attack. It took the doctors 30 minutes to revive him.

Once out of the hospital, Kossoff went back on the road with his band, which subsequently recorded another album titled 2nd Street in 1976. In his weakened state, Kossoff was no longer able to perform to the level everyone expected, so most of guitar parts were played by session guitarist W.G. “Snuffy” Walden.

Shortly after the release of 2nd Street, Back Street Crawler undertook a U.S. tour, which was again hampered by Kossoff’s condition. A bright spot occurred when Kossoff bumped into his former Free bandmates Kirke and Rodgers, now members of the supergroup Bad Company. “He was in town playing with his group when we were in LA,” remembers Rogers. “We went to visit him and had a big jam. I didn’t realize that he was in such bad shape at that point, because he seemed together. They told me afterwards that he pulled himself together for that night. That was the last time I saw him.”

On March 19, 1976, Kossoff boarded a plane in L.A. bound for New York, but he reach his destination. Midflight, Kossoff experienced a cerebral and pulmonary edema and died at the age of 25. “I was on tour with Bad Company when I heard the news,” says Rodgers. “It was just devastating.” Kossoff was laid to rest at Golders Green Crematorium, his headstone marked with a simple epitaph: “All Right Now.”

Kossoff’s father David set up the Paul Kossoff Foundation to raise awareness about substance abuse. Rodgers purchased one of Kossoff’s ’59 Gibson Les Pauls and later auctioned the instrument, donating the proceeds to the Foundation.

Gibson honored Kossoff in 2012 with a limited run of replicas of his later Free-era/Back Street Crawler Les Paul, debuted at NAMM by blues/rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa. “I inadvertently introduced Arthur Ram [current owner of the Paul Kossoff guitar] and Pat Foley [Head of Gibson Artist Relations] at a gig in Newcastle in 2009,” Bonamassa says. “I was just happy to help get the name Paul Kossoff out there.”

Paul Kossoff wasn’t the flashiest guitar player on the planet, and in the years since his passing, his name has been dwarfed by those of some of his contemporaries. He may not have been the fastest shredder, but he’s certainly among those legendary players who become one with the instrument. “One of the great things about Koss was that he played every note like his life depended on it,” declared Rodgers. “He was so passionate about his playing.” That passion shone through on record as well as onstage. It’s what set Paul Kossoff apart, and is the reason he should never be forgotten.

Rabbit - 1974 - Dark Saloon

Dark Saloon

01. Don't You Leave Me Babe 3:22
02. Dig It Johnny Walker 3:29
03. Dark Saloon 2:40
04. 43 Revolution 4:15
05. Special Woman 3:18
06. Devil Run 3:42
07. Cheat On Me 3:29
08. Hall Of Love 3:44
09. I Believe In You 3:18
10. Magical Fountain 2:58

Bass – Terry Wilson (tracks: A1, A2, B2, B4, B5)
Drums – Tony Braunagle (tracks: A1, A2, B2, B4, B5)
Guitar – Dave Keeley (tracks: A1, A2, B2, B4, B5)
Vocals, Keyboards – Rabbit

Albums by sidemen typically aren't very good - after all that's why most of them are relegated to sidemen status.   There are occasional exceptions to the rule - one of them being this 1974 set by keyboardist John "Rabbit" Bundrick.

Using his nickname "Rabbit", 1974's "Dark Saloon" was self-produced and featured all original material.  No matter what you thought about the album, that certainly reflected some faith on the part of Chris Blackwell's Island Records. Allowing a new artist to self-produce and showcase original material was a rarity.  Hell, a lot of times established acts were not given those privileges.  The album found Bundrick working with at least three, or four different line-ups. The title track and 'Special Woman' were recorded with guitarist Janne Schaffer and other Swedish musicians he met while working on the soundtrack to the Johnny Nash starring film "Vill så gärna tro" (translated as Want So Much To Believe"). Tracks like 'Dig' and 'Cheat On Me' found him collaborating with what was to become the core of Back Street Crawler/Crawler.  Elsewhere a couple of tunes appeared to have come out of a collaboration with Stray Dog members Al Roberts and Snuffy Walden.  Reflecting the different collaborators, the album had an extremely varied sound including stabs at everything from conventional rock ('Don't You Leave Me Babe')  to horn- powered funk ('Devil Run'), and even reggae '('43 Revolution').   I won't try to make the argument this was a classic album, but I'll tell you that on a song-for-song basis it was better than some of the material issued by band Bundrick supported as a keyboard player. 

Rabbit - 1973 - Broken Arrows

Broken Arrows

01. Love, Life And Peace
02. Broken Arrows
03. I Don't Mind
04. Ergot
05. Blues My Guitar
06. Music Is The Answer
07. Salt Annie Ginger
08. London Town
09. You're There Somewhere
10. Boll Weevil Blues

Rabbit: piano, organ, electric piano, moog synthesizer, clarinet, Mellotron, harpsichord, vocals, producer, glockenspiel, drums, acoustic guitar, keyboard bass
Tetsu Yamauchi: bass
Snuffy: electric guitar
Reebop Kwaku Baah: congas
Randy: drums
George Larnyoh: horns, percussion
Eddie Quansah: horns, percussion
Peter Vanderpuije: horns, percussion
Chris Laurence: acoustic bass, cello
Jim Capaldi: drums
Pete Carr: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, Dobro
Simon Kirke: drums
Conrad Isidore: drums
Junior: electric guitar, wah-wah
Alan Gerri: bass, electric guitar

Recorded around the time of Free's demise this, Rabbit's first solo album, is a pleasant enough collection of country and bluegrass tinged singer/songwriter tracks which I'm surprised more people on here haven't tracked down. Especially given his affiliation with bands like "Free" and "The Who". 

The album is pure seventies band member solo output, from the very first note you can gauge exactly when it was recorded. Hopefully some of you will know what I mean by that and not just all think I've gone a bit doolally-tap. 

There are some pretty heavyweight (for the time) guests on the album, including former Free men Tetsu Yamauchi and Simon Kirke. Snuffy Walden, who deputised for Paul Kossoff in places on the Free album 'Heartbreaker' contributes some guitar work as does Junior and Pete Carr. As well as Kirke the drum stool was occupied by such as Jim Capaldi and Conrad Isadore. Reebop Kwaku Baah also turns out on a couple of tracks with his congas. Rabbit himself plays so many different instruments throughout the album to list them would be almost ridiculous. 

The opening track on side two 'Music Is The Answer' was actually played live by Free during their final tour although on every bootleg I have it has been retitled 'Intro '73'. There is therefore the strong possibilty that it was originally written to be a Free track. 'Blues My Guitar' also has a very Free like feel to it. 

As I have already said the album is pleasant enough but does sound very dated now. A lot of the songs have an unfinished feel about them as though they could have been developed into something more. The main problem as with most Rabbit releases are the vocals. His voice is definitely an acquired taste and his Texan drawl is a problem on some tracks. However, on others it is a bonus. This is of course never more evident than on 'Music Is The Answer' this Rabbit sung version being hugely inferior to the Paul Rodgers sung Free version. Having said that though it is still the best song on the album. More proof if any was needed that I haven't got a clue what I am on about for a great majority of the time !

Free offshoot album with a very similar feel. Obviously Rabbit is no match to Paul Rodgers' vocals (but then again, who is really?) but the guitar and piano work is definitely above average here. I like the use of horns on some tracks and the "Island label" flavor is a plus, especially considering this is from 1973. Overall, an excellent album that won't disappoint Free fans.

Tetsu Yamauchi - 1972 - Tetsu

Tetsu Yamauchi 

01. Wiki Wiki
02. Alexander Stone
03. First Time
04. Why
05. Dad & Mam
06. Who Would I Be In The World Babe
07. How To Cook
08. Baby Blue
09. Orange Dog
10. Sun Down

Vocals: Eleanor, Tetsu, Ken
Bass: Tetsu
Guitar: Tetsu, Pipi
Drums: U. Harada, H. Tsunoda
Percussion: Charlie, U. Harada, H. Tsunoda

Tetsu Yamauchi started his musical career in Japan, and became internationally recognized when he replaced Andy Fraser in Free. He recorded the solid Kossoff / Kirke / Tetsu / Rabbit side-project before doing Free’s final album, the aptly-named Heartbreaker.
When Ronnie Lane left the Faces in 1973, Free had just split for the last time. The first person considered as a replacement for Lane was Andy Fraser. When the boys approached Simon Kirke, Free’s drummer, about contacting Fraser with the offer, Simon recommended Tetsu, instead.
After the Faces ground to a halt, Yamauchi returned to Japan. He is, to this day, a fixture in the Japanese music scene, actively touring and recording.
Tetsu was born October 21, 1946, in Fukuoka, Japan. By the mid Sixties, Tetsu was in the Japanese folk-rock band, the Mikes. In late 1967 or early 1968, he joined a band that was touring Europe called Samurai. They moved to London for a time, recording the single “Good Morning Starshine” b/w “Temple of Gold” (UA UP2342), and a single released in Italy, “Shu Shu” b/w “Fresh Hot Breeze of Summer”. They released an album on the German label, Metronome, and possibly an album in 1969 (Phillips FX-8511). As an aside, it appears as though it’s the same Graham Smith that has worked with Teresa Brewer, Cat Stevens, Al Stewart, Magna Carta, and Alan Price, among others.
By 1970, Samurai returned to Japan. The band was led by it’s vocalist, Miki Curtis. Tetsu also got a lot of session work through Miki, who was a successful producer. This included work with jazz vocalist Helen Merrill’s son, Alan.
In 1972, Tetsu released the first of two solo albums. Information so far is sketchy (particularly on the second album).
“Good folk-rock, not a lot of organ, sometimes acoustic instruments only. The feeling of the music derives from the beat-era. Sounds like a mix of Donovan and Procol Harum. Sung in English.”
The good one blues rock album by the former leader of Japanese progressive group Samurai recorded in fall 1972. There was an experience previously with musicians from Free (album Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu and Rabbit was released in 1971) and it is so noticeable: the opening "Wiki Wiki" is similar to alittle bit funky Free, and "Why" - so typical Free track in their classic style. There is soul influence in some tracks but not too much. Among album's ten tracks - three instrumental, most successfull from them is "First Time" with the lead electic organ stylistically between Atomic Rooster and Booker T. & MG's. Yamauchi gathered pretty strong cast, that included two drummers - Yuji Harada, who played with Tetsu in Samurai, and an omnipresent Hiro Tsunoda. A part of musicians in 1973 took part in the project Friends, in particular, ex-vocalist and harper of The Beavers Ken Narita, The Spiders former keyboardist Katsuo Ohno and guitarist Pipi Sabata. It should be mentioned that vocal parts were given to the three singers, and except Yamauchi himself and Ken Narita, there is an American Eleonore Barooshian (member of female psychedelic trio The Cake, aka Chelsea Lee). It should be recognized that not the all compositions are the same successfull but totally this album is pretty nice...
Tetsu Yamauchi “Tetsu”  Released in October 1972, this is the 2nd pressing of 1976, ultra rare solo effort of Free bass player Yamauchi Tetsuo (later down the line he would join the Faces). Yamauchi went for the first time on an European tour as one of Miki’s Curtis and Samurai’s band members. Upon touching down in the UK, he hooked up with Free and became their bass player. He got quite a reputation as Free’s bass throbbing magician and upon his brief return to Japan in 1971 he dove into the recording studio in order to put down his solo effort. He flanked himself with female singer Eleanor, Hiro Tsunoda (of Jacks fame) and some other compatriots. The opening track that kick starts this record is an instant psyched-out rock classic, sounding more European than Oriental in nature. Probably his teaming up with Free and the faces might have some hand in that but those these ears it is exactly this Nipponized European feel that does the trick here, making this disc a solid gem. The whole of the disc breathes out a solid UK rockin’ feel, interlarded with psychedelic touches, instrumental breakdowns and even a funky solid as rock number also appear here. In short, this utterly Japanese band kicks major ass and would have been bigger than life if they had recorded this treasure of a disc in the UK with a proper European release. A lost masterpiece...

Kossoff Kirke Tetsu Rabbit - 1972 - Kossoff Kirke Tetsu Rabbit

Kossoff Kirke Tetsu Rabbit 
Kossoff Kirke Tetsu Rabbit

01. Blue Grass
02. Sammy's Alright
03. Anna
04. Just For The Box
05. Hold On
06. Fool's Life
07. Yellow House
08. Dying Fire
09. I'm On The Run
10. Colours

Bass – Tetsu Yamauchi
Drums, Vocals – Simon Kirke
Guitar – Paul Kossoff
Piano, Mellotron, Organ, Vocals – John Rabbit Bundrick

In spite of massive commercial acceptance, amidst personality conflicts Free splintered in the wake of the release of 1970's "Highway".  With front man Paul Rodgers forming the short-lived Peace and bassist Andy Fraser establishing the equally brief Toby, lead guitarist Paul Kossoff and drummer Simon Kirke decided to continue their musical collaboration, promptly recruiting Japanese bassist Tetsu Yamauchi and American sessions keyboard player Rabbit Bundrick.  

Signed by A&M (coincidently Free's label), the quartet debuted with the 1971's self-produced "Kossoff Kirke Tetsu Rabbit".  Propelled by Kossoff's lyrical guitar most folks probably wouldn't be surprised to learn that blues-rock numbers such as 'Blue Grass' and 'Fool's Life' bore more than a slight resemblance to something out of the Free catalog.  To be honest, with Bundrick responsible for most of the material the sound wasn't an exact match for Free (as an example Free never turned in something with the Gospel edge displayed by Bundrick's 'Sammy's Alright' - dedicated to his brother).  Elsewhere compared to Free's highly structured catalog, material like the instrumental 'Just for the Box' and country-ish 'I'm On the Run' found Kossoff and company sounding almost relieved to get the opportunity to stretch out and display their chops in a suitably low-keyed environment.  To my ears set highlights include 'Blues Grass' and the closer 'Colours'.  With the album doing little, a reunion of the original Free lineup quickly collapsed with Yamauchi and Bundrick quickly being ushered in for the Free MK 2 lineup. 

This is a surprisingly good album. Normally a group formed after the disbanding of a great band, the rest of members produce a not so good album... sort of revival or tribute, this is not the case. The musicians of Free without Paul Rodgers doing music: hard rock as expected. 
But this is not the same as Free because John "Rabbit" Bundrick plays here more keyboards than in Free. In fact in all songs there is a presence of supporting keyboards, making a less hard rocking album but equally enjoyable. 
I don't know who was the player who take the singer role among Kirke or Rabitt, but is a decent job done, but in some moments is missed the great singing of Rodgers. 
This is mainly an album of Paul Kossof, who thanks to overdubbing do a great performance, in some tracks plays up to three guitars, excellently backuped by the rest of the band. 
I have listen to them many times and I've started to believe that this guys spends lots of hours doing rehearsal before recording this underrated album.

Bad Company - 2016 - Live 1977 & 1979

Bad Company 
Live 1977 & 1979

Live At The Summit, Houston, Texas, U.S.A - May 23, 1977
101. Burnin' Sky 4:50
102. Too Bad 5:19
103. Ready For Love 8:03
104. Heartbeat 4:39
105. Morning Sun 4:24
106. Man Needs Woman 4:17
107. Leaving You 4:27
108. Shooting Star 7:00
109. Simple Man 6:09
110. Movin' On 3:27
111. Like Water 5:34
112. Drum Solo 1:33
113. Live For The Music 6:34
114. Good Lovin' Gone Bad 5:27
115. Feel Like Makin' Love 6:43

Live At The Empire Pool, Wembley, London, England - March 9, 1979
201. Bad Company 7:54
202. Gone, Gone, Gone 4:58
203. Shooting Star 6:39
204. Rhythm Machine 5:01
205. Oh, Atlanta 5:01
206. She Brings Me Love 5:22
207. Run With The Pack 6:00
208. Evil Wind 4:31
209. Drum Solo 2:37
210. Honey Child 4:34
211. Rock Steady 3:47
212. Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy 3:26
213. Hey Joe 4:28
214. Feel Like Makin' Love 6:29
215. Can't Get Enough 6:01

Vocals – Paul Rodgers
Bass – Boz Burrell
Drums – Simon Kirke
Guitar – Mick Ralphs

Hum, I can only wonder how much of my high school and college career was spent listening to Bad Company albums ...  My grades probably would have been substantially better had some of that time been devoted to studies.

When released in 2016, "Live 1977" was marketed as the first-ever official live album featuring the original band line-up.   2006 had seen the first Bad Company album - "Live In Albuquerque", but that project died a quick death after it became tangled in various legal issues.  Anyhow, live Bad Company is exactly what you got on this fifteen track, double album set.  Recorded at a May 23, 1977 performance at The Summit in Houston, Texas, this was prime Bad Company.  Touring in support of their new "Burnin' Sky" album it shouldn't have come as a surprise the set list included a heavy dose of then-new "Burnin' Sky" material.  By my count, six of the performances were from the new album (the title track, 'Too Bad', 'Heartbeat', 'Morning Sun', 'Like Water', and 'Man Needs a Woman').  The rest of the set featured a mixture of deep cuts and their hits. 

For an album that wasn't treated to any post-production fixes (assuming you believed the credits liner notes), the results were quite impressive.  Exemplified by tracks like 'Leaving You', 'Too Bad', and 'Heartbeat' Rodgers and company came across as a band that was totally profession; confident with their talents.  Yeah, 'Ready for Love' and a couple of  songs came off as slightly rawer than the studio versions, but with the exception of 'Morning Sun' the stripped down performances were uniformly killer.  In fact, my only complaints were minor.  Opening side three, Kirke's drum solo was a needless waste of space that would have been better allocated to another hit, or an obscure performance.  And as much as I love the hits; perhaps because I've heard them so often, part of me wished there'd been a wider selection of obscurities.

The CD version of the collection included an additional 14 tracks recorded at a March 9, 1979 performance at London's Wembley Stadium and a cover of 'Hey Joe' drawn from a June, 1979 Landover, Maryland Capitol Center concert.

Page five of the booklet that accompanies Bad Company’s long overdue Live 1977 & 1979 double compact disc set showcases a color concert photograph of the popular English blues rock group that defines the seventies. Taken from the side of the stage, the photo showcases Bad Co treading the boards below a bright spotlight, while wide-eye fans lean on the edge of the stage, taking in the tight group’s performance during their prime. The cool shot captures the interplay between the classic Bad Company line-up of all-world vocalist Paul Rodgers, guitarist Mick Ralphs, bassist Boz Burrell and drummer Simon Kirke, and their star-struck admirers. Further proof that a picture is worth a thousand words, and the seventies fucking ruled.

Signed to Swan Song Records, with heavy-handed manager Peter Grant in their corner, Bad Company released their self-titled debut LP in 1974, and subsequently blazed a trail throughout the seventies, releasing an album each year, sans ’78. When not in the studio, the group was a touring machine. Like so many acts from the stoned-age seventies, the demanding record-tour-record cycle took a heavy toll on the collective members of Bad Company. 

It has always amazed me that during the super seventies, when the live album was a staple of virtually every group on the scene, Bad Company never dropped down an official concert recording. 1978 was there for taking, as the group took their time following-up on the March of ’77 release of Burnin’ Sky. With Desolation Angels, the group’s fifth studio LP, following two years later, Bad Company could have easily filled the ’78 void with the release of an in-demand live recording. 

2016 finally witnessed the official release of Bad Company’s May 23rd, 1977, performance at The Summit in Houston, Texas. After years in the can, the tapes from the Houston show during the sold-out Burnin’ Through America Tour of ’77 were mixed in 2016 by Richard Digby Smith and mastered by Jon Astley, and are showcased on disc one of the Live 1977 & 1979 collection. Billed as 100% live with no overdubs, the previously unreleased recording kicks in with Bad Company leaning on the inspired title track from their 1977 album. “Too Bad” chases the intro track, with “Ready for Love” squeezed in before a string of four songs from Burnin’ Sky monopolize the front end of the set. “Shooting Star” dominates mid-set, while the touring anthem “Movin’ On”, plus the closing trio of “Live for the Music”, the upbeat “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” and the swagger-in-spades “Feel Like Makin’ Love” stand out from the fourteen song set. 

Disc two presents Bad Co during one of their rare late ‘70s UK dates. Touring on the strength of the Desolation Angels LP, Live 1979 is pulled from the group’s date at the Wembley Arena, in London, on March 9th, 1979. The outlaw inspired “Bad Company” fronts the set, which is chased by the Burrell penned “Gone, Gone, Gone”. As expected, the ’79 set showcases a wealth of tracks from Desolation Angels in addition to the lively “Gone, Gone, Gone”. Following “Shooting Star”, Bad Co roll out the swingin’ “Rhythm Machine”, the moody “Oh, Atlanta” and “She Brings Me Love” from the ’79 LP, as well as adding “Evil Wind” and the popular “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” later in the performance. The defiant “Run With the Pack”, the striding “Rock Steady”, the ever-present “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and show closer “Can’t Get Enough” anchor the set. Lifted from a summer of ’79 gig at the Capitol Center in Washington, DC, Bad Co’s cover of “Hey Joe” is spliced between “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” and “Feel Like Makin’ Love” as a show of heavy duty Jimi Hendrix respect from Ralphs and company.

Better late, than never, the long, long, long wait for classic era Bad Company official concert recordings has been well worth the wait. 

The long awaited "official" Bad Company live album gets released decades after their heyday as an arena band in the US. Not really surprising as they've gone from being an arena band to a classic rock radio staple.
Great sound, great track list and solid performances. The only negative is that neither show is complete. They trimmed songs from both sets to fit them onto one disc each and to minimize duplicating songs on both discs. There is some duplication, but it's kept to a minimum. Nice packaging too, lots of pictures and info about band.

Bad Company - 2006 - Live in Albuquerque 1976

Bad Company 
Live in Albuquerque 1976

101. Live For The Music
102. Good Lovin Gone Bad
103. Deal With The Preacher
104. Ready For Love
105. Wild Fire Woman
106. Young Blood
107. Sweet Little Sister
108. Simple Man
109. Shooting Star
110. Seagull

201. Run With The Pack
202. Feel Like Making Love
203. Rock Steady
204. oney Child
205. Can't Get Enough
206. Bad Company

Paul Rodgers – vocals, piano, guitar, harmonica
Mick Ralphs – lead guitar, background vocals
Boz Burrell – bass
Simon Kirke – drums

Hats off to Mick Ralphs for sharing a great Bad Co show with us. This has been LONG overdue!!! Sadly, the story i received is Paul did not not give his permission to release this set, and it was pulled from circulation and deleted from the Angel Air catalog. Anyway, enough of the legalities. This 2 disc set is a great showcase for the 'original' Bad Co. All the classics to date (March 76), are here: Good Lovin' Gone Bad, Can't Get Enough, Shooting Star, Run With the Pack, Feel Like Makin' Love, Rock Steady, Bad Company, and 9 more great tracks! This set is getting VERY hard to find now, and is a little pricey, but if you are a hardcore Bad Co fan, it is a MUST have! Excellent book with extensive liner notes, and a nice handful of great pic's courtesy of Mick himself. Thank's Mick for sharing this with us!

Disc one opens with Live for Music which is a great opener and not on Merchants of Cool. Next, Good Lovin Gone Bad and Deal with the Preacher followed by two of my favorites Ready for Love and Wild Fire Woman. The next three songs Young Blood, Sweet Little Sister, and Simple Man also cannot be found on Merchants and disc one wraps up with Shooting Star and Seagull.

Disc two opens with Run with the Pack followed by Feel Like Making Love and then the Kirke solo and Rock Steady. The second disc closed with Honey Child and slightly extended Can't Get Enough and Bad Company as the encore.

In summary, this is an excellent snapshot of Bad Company at the top of their popularity and a disc I will treasure especially as it appears this will be a rare disc and hard to find. If you're a Bad Company fan and can get your hands on this then I recommend you do so.

Bad Company - 1982 - Rough Diamonds

Bad Company 
Rough Diamonds

01 Electric Land 5:25
02 Untie The Knot 4:07
03 Nuthin' On The TV 3:46
04 Painted Face 3:24
05 Kickdown 3:35
06 Ballad Of The Band 2:10
07 Cross Country Boy 3:00
08 Old Mexico 3:49
09 Downhill Ryder 4:09
10 Racetrack 4:44

Recorded and mixed at Ridge Farm Studios.

Bass – Boz Burrell
Drums – Simon Kirke
Guitar – Mick Ralphs
Horns – Mel Collins
Vocals, Lead Guitar – Paul Rodgers

Despite the success of 'Desolation Angels' the individual members of Bad Company were becoming a little disillusioned and jaded with the rock n roll lifestyle so the decision was taken not to record an immediate follow up on completion of the 'Desolation Angels' tour. Rodgers in particular had not reacted well to the death of John Lennon and creative juices were not exactly flowing. Add to this the death of labelmate and friend John Bonham and the unenthusiasm of a largely absent Peter Grant and you have a pretty unsettled ship that is not exactly conducive to making good music. To make matters worse individual relationships within the band were disintegrating most notably between Rodgers and Burrell. 

Despite all this Bad Company reconvened at Ridge Farm in Dorking during late 1981 individually armed with demos and song ideas. This probably explains the reason why every track on the album bar one is an individual composition and the album as a whole has a very bitty and 'contractual obligation' feel about it. Its pretty clear that this is a bunch of musicians who really do not want to be there and although there are some decent moments, proving that class will always outdo form in all areas of life, it is still a huge drop from 'Desolation Angels'. In fact if this had turned out to be out takes or rejected tracks from the previous albums sessions it wouldn't have surprised me in the slightest. 

Opening track 'Electricland' is clearly the class act on here and was included live for the first time ever on the recent reunion tour. It is classic Bad Company with a great vocal and and a superb driving rhythm. 'Untie The Knot', the only co-write on the album (Rodgers/Kirke), is a quirky little track and is often regarded as one of the better tracks on the album but I have never really taken to it and it always sounds a little forced to me. 'Nuthin On The TV' is one of three songs on the album, the other two being 'Cross Country Boy and 'Ballad of the Band', that are basically little more than poor B-sides. to call them filler is generous in the extreme. They wouldn't have come within in a country mile, cross or otherwise, of getting onto any of the previous Bad Company albums and are to be brutally frank, embarrassingly poor. 

It is also worth noting here that the enthusiasm from Mick Ralphs must have been particularly lacking as Paul Rodgers actually provides the lead guitar for three of the tracks, the aformentioned 'Cross Country Boy', 'Downhill Ryder' and 'Painted Face'. That, to me at least, speaks volumes about the commitment levels here. It is not surprising that in places and particularly on those three tracks 'Rough Diamonds' is closer in sound to Paul Rodgers subsequent solo album 'Cut Loose' than any of the previous Bad Company albums. 

'Painted Face' itself is not a bad song, it just doesn't sound like Bad Company. Similar could be said of 'Downhill Ryder' which has a nice funky feel to it and along with 'Electricland' they are my personal favourites. Of the other tracks 'Old Mexico' and 'Kickdown' are typical Mick Ralphs country tinged western flavoured stories but lack the conviction of his better compositions and 'Racetrack' has a catchy infectious melody but little else to recommend it. 

Unsurprisingly they decided not to tour to promote the album and subsequently 'Rough Diamonds' became the original line ups worst selling album. Curiously enough it still fared better than all of the future Bad Company albums on which Paul Rodgers didn't feature and still managed to hit the Top 30 on the album chart. Although no official announcement was made the release of the Paul Rodgers solo album 'Cut Loose' in 1983 signalled the end of the original Bad Company. Rodgers then went on to form The Firm with Jimmy Page after which Kirke, Ralphs and Burrell took the unlikely decision to reform without him. A glaring omission to say the least. Unsurprisingly the Rodgers free Bad Company never came close to emulating the success of the original line up. Although to be fair to them they did put out some fairly decent albums even if they sounded more like Foreigner than Bad Company. It was only during the Robert Hart years that they started to sound like Bad Company again but that is for a different a review.