'The Official Authorised 40th Anniversary Documentary' DVD
Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke
"What you get is rough n' ready, but it's real" gushes one of the best rock lead vocalists in the world as we know it.
Paul Rodgers commands respect thanks to an impressive career spanning more than forty years starting out in the sixties with local bands, moving on to Free in 1968 and then Bad Company. His solo career is really impressive too plus naturally his stint with Queen which created a division in opinion.
There's no denying the quality in the early incarnation of Bad Company as the classic line-up of Rodgers, Mick Ralphs (moved from Mott The Hoople), Simon Kirke (drummer for Free) and bassist Boz Burrell (prog rockers extraordinaire King Crimson) combined to create such classic Rock staples as 'Can't Get Enough', 'Feel Like Makin' Love' and 'Good Lovin' Gone Bad' amongst many others.
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This DVD reminds you that the band wasn't merely a quartet of musicians, but there was in fact a fifth member who didn't even play an instrument in those earlier days.
Legendary manager Peter Grant invested his business accruement and savvy negotiation techniques completed by his physical presence to open doors and opportunities for Bad Company to ascend to aspired heights. As a team, they seemed unstoppable until the prominent figure of Grant retired from the social glare to grieve and cope with the incredibly sad passing of John 'Bonzo' Bonham, the drummer of Led Zeppelin.
For fans of Bad Company, this story is ancient and well-trodden, but for those who are still discovering the music of the band, these historical avenues maybe something quite novel. So, when I read on the cover of this DVD that it is the 40th anniversary of the band, and it promises "The Band, The Music, The Story" I expect to receive just that.
I'm not asking for much really. Don't misunderstand me, I cherish and adore these early albums like 'Straight Shooter', 'Burnin' Sky' and perhaps controversially 'Desolate Angels' when I'm in the right frame of mind, but the band name "Bad Company" didn't cease to exist after the original line-up began to fragment.
I was sitting there all comfortable awaiting a comprehensive story to unfold before my eyes with tasters of the music from their illustrious back catalogue. Waiting with baited breath how Paul Rodgers felt when he left and perhaps how scared he was of tackling a career without Free or Bad Company being part of his world anymore.
I gripped the air with my hands in eager anticipation of hearing what it was like when Brian Howe sang for the band on the 1986 album 'Fame and Fortune' or the back-story to Steve Price as he stepped in to handle bass duties due to Burrell sadly passing away of a heart attack; the interesting additions of finding out what the band felt when their single from the 1988 album 'Dangerous Age' called 'No Smoke Without A Fire' received significant airplay back in the day; how they felt about their chemistry together as a band; the song-writing team of Brian Howe and Terry Thomas; the introduction of Felix Krish on bass for the sorely underrated 'Holy Water' album; and the list goes on.
As much as some fans enjoyed Paul Di'Anno singing on the first two Iron Maiden albums, you don't see the legendary Metal maestros discuss that era alone. AC/DC have always acknowledged the existence of Bon Scott era and the Brian Johnson era of the band. Once again, I could list many other examples, but then I stop and wonder why Bad Company feel it's necessary to pretend that the early glory days, the high-profile and commercially successful version of the band is the only era we want to know about?
Due to the magnificent Rock music the original line-up are known for, being shared in tasters throughout this documentary, I felt extremely disappointed that they couldn't have been a little more detailed, comprehensive and a little more rough n' ready. It's Rock n' bloody Roll with style, so why not reflect it in what I feel is a missed opportunity?
The documentary feels unfinished as it respectfully pays homage to Boz Burrell, and explains the Bad Company story in the early days before galloping quickly over the last couple of studio albums this line-up recorded together.
It is cool to see Mick Ralphs discuss his place in Mott The Hoople and why he felt it was time to move on, and how both he and Rodgers acknowledge their compatibility within the parameters of Bad Company. We as the viewer get a taste of what it was like being in Free thanks to Kirke and Rodgers, plus the inclusion of the two Bad Company crew members Chris Whitehouse and Huw 'Sid' Pryce discussing what it was like working for Peter Grant; all adding up to what isn't a bad chapter of the band's past.
It was delightful to hear Paul Rodgers explain how he wrote 'Walk In The Shadow' from the debut album by Free, and I also enjoyed seeing Simon Kirke share the moment Pete Townsend from The Who knocked on their transit window and exclaim: "I love that fuckin' song of yours" in reference to 'All Right Now'. The irony being that these recollections were for Free and not Bad Company!
This DVD is for those who own a copy of 'Dad Rocks!' and aren't adventurous in their exploration of Rock music. It will be easily and readily accessible material complete with observing only the best known music from all the bands involved. You get 'All The Young Dudes' by Mott The Hoople, 'All Right Now' by Free and of course moments like 'Bad Company', 'Feel Like Makin' Love' and 'Burnin' Sky'.
On the other side of the coin being fair there are pleasant surprises like the inclusion of 'Simple Man' from the Bad Company album 'Run With The Pack', 'Thunderbuck Ram' written by Ralphs for Mott The Hoople.
During the Extras on this DVD we get to look at the field where Woodstock was held and witness the three remaining members of the original line-up experience this occasion; bizarre. We also get to sit in on a Q&A organised by Planet Rock. My personal favourite moment is the full unedited interview with all three members on a sofa, relaxed and talking about the band in those early days.
I suppose one of the main points that fans will be thrilled about from watching this DVD, regards the tease about the three members being involved in possible new Bad Company music at some point.
Drummer Simon Kirke is enthusiastic about this possibility, Ralphs was open to new music but Rodgers seemed intent on song-writing. His perspective wasn't as overly positive as the other two members as he implied quite rightly how his song-writing may take him anywhere.
Overall, this DVD left me feeling sadly disappointed and short-changed to be honest. Reiterating and refreshing on both accounts, this DVD doesn't dig deep enough in to what is possibly a very interesting story. My title for this DVD would have been 'Bad Company: To Cut A Long Story Short'.