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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bad Company: Dangerous Age


BAD COMPANY: DANGEROUS AGE (1988)

1) One Night; 2) Shake It Up; 3) No Smoke Without A Fire; 4) Bad Man; 5) Dangerous Age; 6) Dirty Boy; 7) Rock Of America; 8) Something About You; 9) The Way That It Goes; 10) Love Attack.

There must be one thing and one thing only that has determined the sound shift from Fame And Fortune to Dangerous Age, and it must have been the success of Aerosmith's Permanent Vaca­tion in the interim. Suddenly, it was mathematically proven that aging, no-longer-hip rockers could be cool with the primary record-buying crowd once again, as long as they filled out a sub­scription to cheesy pop-metal with an almost clownish approach to sex matters. And the most awesome thing about it: you don't even have to rely on synthesizers any more, because synthesi­zers do not prolong your male dignity to the same extent as Mr. Rawk Guitar.

So the first thing you get to see when you pick the album up is the title, and it has the word Dan­gerous on it. Dangerous? Bad Company? Even Paul Rodgers could only seem «dangerous» to a very, very bored housewife with pretty low-set standards of «danger», and Fame And Fortune was no more dangerous than Chris de Burgh. Then you put it on, and whoops, a blues-pop-metal riff explodes straight in your face. Then come the lyrics: "One night ain't no love affair, but I won't ask no more from you / One night with you anywhere, heaven knows what we can do". See? It's a song about a one-night stand. And Brian Howe really only asks to plug her once, like the good old-fashioned gentle­man he is, because he is a God-given gift to all the ladies. As long as they do their hair in 1988 fashion, enjoy Dirty Dancing, and have not already been chosen by Steve Tyler whose publicity advantages over Brian Howe are undeniable.

You have already understood, I gather, that, in between 1986 and 1988, Bad Company made the «smart» choice to shift from one sort of awfulness (bland, languid synth-rock) to another: metal-guitar-dominated cock-rock. «Smart» only in that this really helped them, on the heels of Aero­smith, to sell more copies: quality-wise, this shit is only marginally better than that shit, since the change gave the band more chances to work out some concentrated, precise riffage — most of which is still fairly rotten.

There is more to this than the riffs, though. If your goal is to present yourself to the rest of the world as some sort of orgasmic terror-inspiring sex god of hellfire, you have to know how to do it with humor and irony — qualities that were no enemies to Steve Tyler or Gene Simmons, but se­em fairly incompatible with Brian Howe and Mick Ralphs. Instead of truly sounding «dangerous», or at least «hilarious», the title track just sounds stupid. Chorus lines like "young girl has found her stage, watch out, she's a dangerous age" are delivered as if the singer is really warning you to watch out. Of course, the style was not invented in 1988; but it looks ever so dumber when it is dressed up in musical clichés of 1988 — its glossed-out metal sound, Big Terror Drums, and sa­tanic echo effects on the dude's voice.

Things can only get worse in a song that has the word «rock» in the title, and there it is: ʽRock Of Americaʼ, a certified «truck driver anthem» the likes of which this band had never stooped to be­fore. It's a good stimulus for punching your fist through the wall to the merry sounds of "I wanna ROCK!", but it isn't a frustration-venter, and what's the use of having to pay the repairman if you didn't even properly vent your frustation? If you really want to rock the rock of America, go climb Mount Rushmore or something.

Just like Permanent Vacation, this miserable imitation features just one schmaltzy ballad (ʽSomething About Youʼ, a song that even Diane Warren could never have written — I think she ge­nerally uses a couple more chords in her monstrosities), buried in a sea of Sex, No Drugs, and a Facsimile of Rock'n'Roll — a sea whose individual waves roll over and fade away so quickly, it hardly makes sense to mention them at all. Recommendable only for those who are curious about cross-breeding «classic» Bad Company with «classic» hair metal. Those who have better plans for their time can simply follow my thumbs down.

5 comments:

  1. " If your goal is to present yourself to the rest of the world as some sort of orgasmic terror-inspiring sex god of hellfire,"
    Is the other way round any better? Like

    "do it good as you
    lickin' on that lickin' stick
    the way you do
    you got the lips to make a strong man weak
    and a heathen pray"

    from a band you quite like, from an album you once called Quintessential. And one of your favourite songs goes like this:

    "all you women come along with me
    and I'll show how good a bad boy can be"

    The difference with Bad Co? Beats me.

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    Replies
    1. Well, for starters, AC/DC's lyrics are always funnier and wittier (actually, "I'll show you how good a bad boy can be" is quite a smart find). But that's not the main issue - in either case, the lyrics do not stand on their own, they have to be taken in the context of the voice and the music. I actually wrote that - you addressed the first part of my point without paying attention to the rest of it.

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    2. Then you have some further explanation to do - why are Bon Scott and co funny and are How and Ralphs not? It's me of course, but even as a horny teenager the humour of Go Down and Bad Boy Boogie was lost on me. As far as the context of music goes - I wrote about that in my comment on the album Let there be Rock.
      Not to mention that the very assumption that the quality of music can justify gross lyrics is very dubious. So I strongly suspect that bias pro AC/DC and contra Bad Co plays an important role here. That's OK with me - experiencing art is always subjective - but you should rather admit it.

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    3. I don't think funny is really the important word, I would rather use Intelligence. Bon Scott has always sounded like an intelligent person to me, Brian Howe sounds like a total dumbass. Of course a sene of humour plays a large role there, Bon Scott realises the inherent silliness in his musical persona, again, Brian Howe apparently does not.
      And, who could watch the video for "Let There Be Rock" and dare to deny that that Bon Scott guy is one charismatic fellow?

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  2. Hughes in KentuckyJune 25, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    Wow, George, I am really surprised and pleased that you reviewed this record. This is one of my all time guilty pleasure albums. This was one of the big three albums for me and my buddies back during our 1988 college days (OU812 and Appetite for Destruction being the other ones). Sure, it is goofball cock rock, but it sounded great in my friend Jeremiah's 1966 Mustang. I don't play it much these days, but I feel I have to keep a copy in my voluminous CD archives.

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