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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bad Company: Here Comes Trouble


1) How About That; 2) Stranger Than Fiction; 3) Here Comes Trouble; 4) This Could Be The One; 5) Both Feet In The Water; 6) Take This Town; 7) What About You; 8) Little Angel; 9) Hold On To My Heart; 9) Brokenhearted; 10) My Only One.

Misery comes in different flavors, some of which are more tolerable than others. For their last al­bum with Brian Howe at the helm, Bad Company preferred to choose «Romantic Dung», which might explain why the album failed to go platinum — quite a few people out there prefer to ex­tract their ro­manticism out of other substances — but also might explain why, in the end, it did at least go gold — quite a few people out there are easily satisfied with said flavor.

At least the previous two albums could qualify as glossy, pop-metallized hard-rock; Here Comes Trouble, for the most part, consists of singalong feel-good arena anthems and «let-me-die-for-you-on-the-spot-every-night» power ballads. No idea what happened here, or why they suddenly felt the need to mutate the formula in this particular way — maybe the ongoing «grunge revolu­tion» simply threw them off balance, and they decided to cut down on the «hair metal» elements in the music. But in the end, what we are left with is no longer just «uninspiring», for the most part, it is simply «unlistenable».

The musicality of the big single ʽHow About Thatʼ extends to three notes in the riff and one silly old power chord in the chorus, the rest of the spotlight almost completely occupied by Mr. Howe pouring his tired old heart out — and ending each chorus with a raspy, «sexy» "how about that?" which does not even come across as provocative. Just pompous and annoying in its operatic op­timism (which might have sounded more convincing in a different musical setting).

«Heavy» songs on the album are limited to the title track — catchy, but riffless — and ʽBoth Feet In The Waterʼ, a little stronger in the riff department, but less catchy. Nobody needs them any­way, because Mick Ralphs must have slapped together those arrangements over a sandwich break or something. And at this particular juncture, titles like ʽLittle Angelʼ, ʽHold On To My Heartʼ, and ʽMy Only Oneʼ should probably speak for themselves (the latter in particular is a synth-led adult contemporary ballad whose first verse runs: "I miss you / I just can't resist you / I need you like the sun needs the day / Oh please, won't you come back again" and is delivered with all the seri­ousness of feeling you'd expect from a John Donne poem).

True enough, some of the choruses are catchy — ʽHere Comes Troubleʼ and ʽTake This Townʼ were written as singalong audience baits, and they work that way. But the music they are equip­ped with is almost non-existent, and raises the old issues of «adequacy» and «entertainment vs. art» and what-not. Maybe if they had thought about reinventing themselves as a bona fide power pop band, with legit, non-trivial guitar melodies, tonal variety, unpredictable overdubs etc., these and other songs could have fared better. Instead, this is rote, banal, instantly forgettable corporate rock that does not even do justice to the best of the Brian Howe years, let alone Paul Rodgers. Avoid, avoid — probably their weakest offering since Fame And Fortune; thumbs down all the way and then some.
Check "Here Comes Trouble" (CD) on Amazon
Check "Here Comes Trouble" (MP3) on Amazon


  1. Indeed, then some.
    Believe it or not, you haven't bashed How about That enough. Compare the rhythm section (Wills/Kirke I suppose) of Bad Co with Glover/Paice on say Maybe I'm a Leo. This is another major reason why so many post 1980 rockbands suck: drums only play 4 notes a bar, bass 8.

  2. Simon Kirke always played a straight 4 on the floor, even in the Free days. It's the glossy 80's production, power ballads, and uber-lame singer that kill this puppy off.

    Who knew that a cock rock ballad was only truly ballsy with a singer like Rodgers at the helm, actually UNDERplaying it?

  3. Not on Mr. Big, Fire and Water and Be my Friend, essentially also ballads. I just checked them on YouTube - there are fine performances on BeatClub. I'm not saying Kirke drummed complicated patterns on these songs, but he was far more interesting and constructive than on How about That. Not to mention Andy Fraser.
    This is in addition to glossy production etcetera - I wrote "another major reason"; there are several of them.

  4. Well, I take your point. I think what I meant to say is that Kirke almost always plays through the chord changes, a la Ringo, and isn't really a flashy or "ornamental" sort of drummer (think Ginger Baker for maximum contrast).

    There's no doubt that "Bad Co." were playing strictly by numbers here, dictated by the formula of the age. It's also true that Bad Co. always were formulaic, but that (for some of us) the 70's formula trumps the 80's formula. Not much else to add.