BAD COMPANY: ROUGH DIAMONDS (1982)
1) Electricland; 2) Untie The Knot; 3) Nuthin' On The TV; 4) Painted Face; 5) Kickdown; 6) Ballad Of The Band; 7) Cross Country Boy; 8) Old Mexico; 9) Downhill Ryder; 10) Racetrack.
A completely misguided, fatal failure here. Apparently, the band was not «feeling well» in the early 1980s, due to personal problems, exhaustion, and, according to some sources, a certain disappointment in their image and the whole rock star thing, brought on by the deaths of labelmate John Bonham and soulmate (you wish) John Lennon. Thus, following up on their hearts' desires, they decided to make a more «personal», «darker» record than usual.
They forgot one important thing, though: dark and personal albums absolutely require musical genius in order to make their point. Just to select a few minor chords, sew them up in a traditionally honored way, and let Paul Rodgers take care of the rest won't do. But that is exactly how the band preferred to behave anyway, dumping most of their «conquests» on Desolation Angels — all the disco and New Wave influences — in favor of the good old brand, without any interesting riffs but with a lot of feeling. Paul Rodgers isn't feeling too good, and he wants you to tear your sorry little ass out of the embraces of Thriller and know it. Obey!
Okay, it isn't really that gloomy. Actually, the album does veer between the usual mid-tempo not-so-hard-rock in the pangs of depression, and a set of cheerier, more evidently danceable R'n'B numbers with heavy emphasis on saxophone support, provided by guest star and one-time Boz Burrell's colleague in King Crimson, Mel Collins. On any other album most of these numbers would just look stupid, but here, stuff like ʽBallad Of The Bandʼ is at least a temporary respite from hearing Rodgers complain about life's treachery on interchangeable dreck like ʽKickdownʼ and ʽElectriclandʼ. (Yes, the former is a sincere lament built upon horror brought on by the Lennon murder. No, it isn't a good song at all. The very fact of Lennon's death did not exactly set off an extra wave of genius inspiration in people).
For objectivity's sakes, I can list a few scraps of relative goodness. John Cook's piano intro to ʽCross Country Boyʼ (apparently three or four seconds out of one hundred and seventy). The dumb, but sticky five-note riff in ʽDownhill Ryderʼ (but why the ʽyʼ?). Mick Ralphs' excellent slide guitar part on ʽRaceʼ — a last-moment set of gorgeously strung chords, totally wasted in the context of an otherwise pedestrian song on an otherwise pedestrian album. Not much, eh?
All right: for total objectivity, I must say that the overall sound of Rough Diamonds is fairly decent for a 1982 album. The new style of mainstream-oriented production had not yet taken over fully, and electronic support is used quite sparingly: a few synth parts here and there, but no attempt to let the robots take over the real men. On the other hand, in 1982 this couldn't be qualified as a brave, integrity-boosting artistic move. It just meant the new standards hadn't yet been fully established. By 1986, the band would catch on. In short, nothing saves Rough Diamonds from a predictable thumbs down — not even the fact that ʽElectriclandʼ scored relatively well on the single charts. Everything that had to do with Lennon's death scored well on the charts, so it doesn't really count.
Check "Rough Diamonds" (MP3) on Amazon