Album review: BAD COMPANY – Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy – The Very Best Of

BAD COMPANY - Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy - The Very Best Of

Rhino [Release date 02.10.15]

Do we really need another Bad Company anthology?  They were a great band that paved the way for so-called arena rock in the 1980s but haven’t we got all we need on our iPods and memory sticks?

This single CD comes with two “previously unreleased” sweeteners in the shape of ‘Easy On My Soul’ and ‘See The Sunlight’.  Free biographer David Clayton’s liner notes are strangely quiet on the context of these alternate versions/outtakes although a version of the latter track appeared on this year’s ‘Straight Shooter’ reissue.

Hardcore fans will no doubt have the 2 -CD “anthology” set that came out in 1999 which featured new material from the then newly reformed band, the last to feature Boz Burrell who died in 2006.  Since that time the band reformed again 2008-10 (and in 2014) and were captured on the ‘Live At Wembley’ release in 2010.

Over thirty years earlier, in 1977, I remember seeing them perform at Earls Court, my one and only concession to a semi-festival gig when in my early twenties, with Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance and Be Bop Deluxe.  Sadly, an official live album from the 1974-1977 heyday is lacking and Angel Air’s release of a 1976 New Mexico gig was withdrawn becoming an instant collector’s item.

A compilation of this sort is always going to polarise the confirmed whilst hopefully ushering in the curious.  Naturally, all the major “hits” are included (some as single edit versions) along with key album tracks.

The band’s first three albums are consistent and should probably rest in any collection, especially the 2015 expanded reissues of ‘Bad Company’ and ‘Straight Shooter’.  1977′s ‘Burnin’ Sky’ and ‘Desolation Angels’ (1979) less so, although the latter yielded the excellent ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy’ and ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’.  1982′s ‘Rough Diamonds’ is represented by the hit single ‘Electricland’ and was the band’s weakest selling album and coincided with the demise of their label Swan Song.

And whilst this 19-track set focuses on the “classic” band line-up with Paul Rodgers on vocals, the curious should also consider the band’s later (post-1982) history which produced several polished AOR efforts although Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke the only continuity.

A great reminder of a great band but probably – for the uninitiated – best regarded as a casual purchase at a motorway service area.  ***1/2

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.


David Randall plays a selection of new and classic rock in his weekly show first broadcast 14 June 2020 including reference to the Feature series “2020 Vision”.


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