Rhino [Release date 29.04.16]
It does seem strange that this is the first official live Bad Company album in 40 years, featuring the classic original line-up. Angel Air Records released the Albuquerque gig from 1976 in 2006 but it was hastily withdrawn due to legal issues and remains a collector’s item. Now, over two discs, the band is featured in Houston, Texas (1977) and at Wembley Empire Pool in 1979. Both recordings are previously unreleased and derived from multi-track.
I remember seeing the band at Earls Court in 1977 and can attest their live prowess; they were one of the first truly radio-friendly bands who were flagwavers for “stadium rock” in the early-seventies. They also had considerable success in the States where Disc 1 of this package was recorded. And of course they had “supergroup” credentials with Paul Rodgers fronting his first band since Free, joined by Mick Ralphs (Mott The Hoople), Simon Kirke (Free) and Boz Burrell (King Crimson).
In 1977 they were promoting the new album ‘Burnin’ Sky’and this performance features a generous six songs plus of course the more familiar ‘Ready For Love’ and ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’.
Two years on and with another new album to promote – ‘Desolation Angels’ – the band played Wembley, one of three dates on the tour at this venue. Thankfully, there is little duplication with the earlier set but the addition of six tracks from the new album and a handful from the first two including ‘Can’t Get Enough’.
For reasons of continuity there is the inclusion of ‘Hey Joe’ recorded in the USA in June 1979. Free biographer David Clayton’s liner note narrative is comprehensive, if a bit rambling and over-reverential, but he doesn’t explain why this cover version has been shoehorned into the Wembley set. Presumably it was in the original setlist but there was an issue with the recording. Whatever, it will provide additional interest to fans.
If this excellent package also begs the question why the tapes have remained hidden for nearly 40 years, it does provide essential listening and a unique live document of one of the truly great seventies bands. ****
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
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