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Bad Company: The Band. The Music. The Story. 40th Anniversary Documentary (DVD)

Forty years. 40. Four-O? Can we really have known "Can't Get Enough", "Rock Steady", "Ready For Love", "Seagull", or indeed "Bad Company" itself for forty years? Well, I was only 1 year old when these songs were released, but you get what I mean... These songs, and many more from the six albums that singer Paul Rodgers, guitarist Mick Ralphs, drummer Simon Kirke and bassist Boz Burrell produced, have gone on to become stone-cold Rock classics. Now, some 32 years on from their final studio release together, Rough Diamonds, it is easy to forget both the impact this band made and just how good they were. Thankfully the rather lengthily titled Bad Company: The Band. The Music. The Story. 40th Anniversary Documentary DVD does a stellar job of reminding us, and revealing the detail behind how it all happened.

As is the recent trend, this just over 80 minute documentary directed by Jon Brewer, is no cheap, shoddy retread happy to compile second hand stories and gloss over the detail. Instead the three remaining members of Bad Co., Rodgers, Ralphs and Kirke (Burrell sadly passed away in 2006), are interviewed in a variety of situations (sometimes alone, sometimes together and the clips would appear to be from quite a few different interview sessions and years) to divulge how the band formed, how the chemistry working between them resulted in the iconic songs and eventually, how it all slowly disintegrated. A great deal of short vintage live and studio performance clips, as well as some classy "still" shots give a flavour of what a devastating live act this band were and how at ease (in the beginning) they looked. While the opening shot of the DVD, from back in the day of Bad Company performing their title track, segueing neatly into a more current clip of the band playing the same song is very clever indeed.

Around half of the DVD concentrates on the pre-Bad Co. days (Free, Mott The Hoople, etc.), through Rodgers and Ralphs teaming up and asking Kirke to join them before recruiting Burrell, up to the release of the self titled debut album. Highlighting along the way the huge role that Led Zeppelin's manager Peter Grant played in steering the band towards superstardom on both sides of the Atlantic. Many wonderful stories are revealed, that of Paul Rodgers recording his vocal for "Bad Company" outside, in a field, in the pitch black of night, with only the music in his headphones and the evening chill for company. Hence the ad-lib as the song fades..."cold wind blows...", being particularly memorable.

Famous talking heads from Ian Hunter and Brian May to producer/engineer Ron Nevison and members of the Company's road crew line up to lend their thoughts and insights to the Bad Co. story, while (as do many others) Boz's wife Cathy provides touching stories about a man she obviously loved. The band are also candid about the ups and downs of their recording career, confident enough to recognise that they recorded some stunningly good music and honest enough to admit to some less than stunning albums, such as Burnin' Sky, or Rough Diamonds.

The years in between the original line-up splitting and a less than successful comeback in 1999, before a far more celebrated reformation tour towards the end of the 00s are pretty much glossed over. Passing mention of Rodgers solo career, his time with Jimmy Page in The Firm, a stint with Queen and even him performing with the Four Tops get mention, while Ralph's 1998 solo effort Take This is fleetingly touched on. However for a long term fan of the band, the elephant in the room remains the now airbrushed out of existence and excellent non-Rodgers Bad Company years with Brian Howe and Robert Hart at the microphone, which are (as is the case on the Bad Company website and official history) almost completely ignored by all concerned even though its output matched the number of six albums Rodgers and Co. managed. The only mention being a passing comment from Rodgers stating that when the band was reformed to protect its 'copyright', "even Mick had taken the band out on the road, which I wasn't happy about...". But that is more an issue with the band's revisionary history (but then, I don't know why I'm complaining, after all I'm a Kiss and Asia fan as well and they both do likewise...) than this DVD.

Bad Company: The Band. The Music. The Story. 40th Anniversary Documentary is a tremendous account of one of the lesser celebrated, yet stunningly successful and musically impressive bands Classic Rock has ever seen. For your money, you also get your hands on a Classic Rock 'fanpack' with a full 132 page issue of the magazine dedicated to the history of the band, with exclusive interviews and full album retrospectives (and prints of the four original band members), meaning you'll have more than enough Bad Company to keep you occupied until the hinted at, at the DVDs conclusion, new album appears. We can only hope.... In the meantime, this documentary and pack is more than enough to keep any fan happy.

Added: April 2nd 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Bad Company Online
Hits: 2436
Language: english

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