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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bad Company: Stories Told & Untold


1) One On One; 2) Oh, Atlanta; 3) You're Never Alone; 4) I Still Believe In You; 5) Ready For Love; 6) Waiting On Love; 7) Can't Get Enough; 8) Is That All There Is To Love; 9) Love So Strong; 10) Silver, Blue & Gold; 11) Down­pour In Cairo; 12) Shooting Star; 13) Simple Man; 14) Weep No More.

There can only be two motives behind the production of this kind of album, and neither of the two is particularly cheerful. One is that you just don't have enough creative energy in you any more to pro­duce an entire LP of new material, and have to resort to re-recording old standards out of plain old desperation. Another one is that, deep down inside, you instinctively feel that your new material is not up to par — mildly speaking — and that it would be a good commercial move to somehow «legitimize» it by mixing it up with classic, sanctified material.

My personal feeling is that Stories Told & Untold must be a combination of the two, because these new songs really, really suck. They do try to continue the «rootsy revival» of Company Of Strangers, but with a deeper nod to adult contemporary this time: except for the opening number, ʽOne On Oneʼ, whose riff sounds gritty enough for about five seconds before you realize it has been shamelessly lifted from the Stones' ʽCan't You Hear Me Knockingʼ, everything else is in the deeply sentimental vein and hopelessly generic. ʽWaiting On Loveʼ and ʽDownpour In Cairoʼ, with slightly more down-to-earth arrangements, are listenable if,perchance, encountered on a modern country rock radio station. Everything else is disgusting plastic soul pathos.

Surely against a background like this the old classics must sound revitalized and refreshing — es­pecially considering that the band was so intensely pushing forward Robert Hart's «new Paul Rod­gers» image. And for the most part, he is doing a fine job on the old tunes: I personally find his tone a little bit more «grayish» than Rodgers', but that's a purely subjective feeling. The real problem, of course, is that the re-recordings slavishly follow the original versions, and when they do not, it actually gets worse — for instance, setting the entire first verse of ʽReady For Loveʼ to a minimalistic «unplugged» setting simply deprives it of one minute of enjoyment (the deeply melancholic rhythmic arrangement of the original was one of its major assets). ʽCan't Get Enoughʼ also gets a laid-back acoustic basis, but it's not as if the entire idea was to make an «un­plugged» version of Bad Company's biggest hits — it just sort of happened that way, with the old bite surreptitiously taken out of the arrangements. And these horn overdubs on ʽWeep No Moreʼ? No, can't say that I'm a fan.

No big surprise that much of the material here was recorded in Nashville and featured cameos from contemporary country-rock stars, since it is contemporary country-rock: professional, clean, formulaic, and deadly dull. It is true that replacing Howe with Hart made Bad Company sound more like Bad Company, but the price was that they sort of became the wax facsimile of what they used to be, and who really needs that? Thumbs down for this whole cheesy business — not even the regular fans were fooled, and Stories Told & Untold became even more of a commer­cial bomb than Company Of Strangers.

Check "Stories Told & Untold" (CD) on Amazon

1 comment:

  1. I went to Grooveshark and sampled this "One On One" number. I made it through the first 30 seconds. Sure enough, you get to hear some shameless mug doing an animatronic Disneyworld impersonation of Free-era Paul Rodgers, while the band plays "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" in the background. Bad Company? Dead Duck, more like it.