BAD COMPANY: FAME AND FORTUNE (1986)
1) Burning Up; 2) This Love; 3) Fame And Fortune; 4) That Girl; 5) Tell It Like It Is; 6) Long Walk; 7) Hold On My Heart; 8) Valerie; 9) When We Made Love; 10) If I'm Sleeping.
Had this band enjoyed a little less fame, and had I had a little more fortune, I would not be obliged to review this at all. But it so happened that, after the initial dissolution of Bad Company after Rough Diamonds, as Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke were about to team up with ex-Nugent vocalist Brian Howe for just a little fun and a little cash, some thugs at Atlantic convinced them that the cash would be flowing far steadier if triggered by the good old moniker. Besides, how could 1986, arguably the worst year for commercially oriented music in the XXth century, begin and end without a Bad Company album?
Not that Fame And Fortune sounds anything like old time Bad Company. Instead, it sounds like new time Foreigner — no surprise, since it was produced by Foreigner's producer Keith Olsen. Thus, folksy and bluesy stylizations are mostly out, replaced by bombastic arena-rock. Heavy, but glossy-safe guitar riffs, crappy cheap keyboards all over the place (played by Gregg Dechert, whose only claim to fame so far was playing for Uriah Heep in 1980-81), electronic echo on the drums, and a generic pop vocalist with Siegfried-size ambitions. Whoo!
It goes without saying that there isn't a single song on here that even barely approaches «good». The only possible question is «in a better time and place, could any of these songs be better?» I am not sure. The riffs are fairly rotten, and the vocal melodies are mostly dependent on how much pathos the new singer guy is capable of generating. Considering that 99% of the time he flat out refuses to sing like a normal human being, I am not sure that replacing him with a Ray Davies could have saved the situation.
Particularly low points involve the power ballad ʽWhen We Made Loveʼ (on which Howe's little «rasp» seems even more annoying than usual); the awful teen pop send-up ʽThat Girlʼ (unless the chorus reall goes fat girl!, which is how I hear it every time, in which case it's self-ironic... nah, not really); and the humiliating ʽHold On My Heartʼ, a suspicious attempt to write something in the style of Born In The USA — except that it takes more than simply mimicking Bruce's breathy intonations to succeed.
The only track here that deserves half a grain of attention is ʽTell It Like It Isʼ, a rougher-edged rocker, generally unspoiled by keyboards and somewhat strengthened by a well-meaning sax backing. This one could be thought of as slightly watered-down, less focused and intense AC/DC, and in the context of all the chest-beating, synth-pumping dreck on here it almost feels like real rock'n'roll. Of course, there is still no reason to keep its memories in your head one hour after the fact. Useless, spiritually and intellectually offensive dreck. Even honest, hard-working truck drivers — the band's most faithful audience — acknowledged that at the time, judging by the charts. Total thumbs down.