Thursday, March 12, 2009

'Till the day I die...

My wife called me at work last Thursday with the news that the radio station she was listening to were leaking the summer line up for Atlanta’s Chastain Park Amphitheater summer concert series. Chastain is what I refer to as our fare city’s cool little ‘sit down’ concert venue. For some shows, they even set up tables down front and allow all ticket holders to bring wine & cheese type goodies into the show. The music’s volume is usually cranked a little low due to the neighborhood setting the venue sits in, which can be a bit annoying since the uppercrusters buy tickets for the whole series, attend the concerts they care little about for the social aspect, and fucking blather on endlessly all the way through a show you’ve been counting down days to see. Despite this, the wife and I REALLY look forward to taking in a few concerts each year with our more musically inclined friends Bob and Betty the Builder. We’ve seen quite a few great shows at Chastain over the years, Elvis Costello, James Gang, Mark Knopfler, Allison Krauss with Union Station and Robert Plant respectively, to recall a few.

But Mrs. Alva seemed to have a bit of excitement in her voice as she exclaimed, “I think they said Bad Company will be playing this year, honey”. She got me attention with that for certain. We were primed and ready on Sunday morning when tickets went on sale and jumped on’em at 10:00 AM sharp as Live Nation’s internet ordering site lit up. We had to do some digging, but we’re 99.99% confident that the line up will be Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirke, and Paul Rodgers with the American Bass player who tours with Paul’s solo act (whose name escapes me at the moment) filling in for the deceased Boz Burell.

The critical path item here being Paul Rodgers of course. I have never quite figured out why many of my past and current music friends slag Bad Company so much. I vividly remember their epic and flawless self titled debut album flooding out over the airwaves on early FM radio stations in the mid 70’s and being floored by the cool sounds emanated from the little transistor radio speaker. Killer hooks, perfect soulful vocals, gorgeous, choruses, and that can be said for EVERY SONG ON THAT RECORD! Oddly enough, Bad Company was one of those LP’s that all my friends had, so I never actually owned a copy of my own until much later in life. During my crazy metal years, I didn’t listen to it much at all, but 10 years later I picked up a CD copy and listened to it again. It was like discovering the Holy Grail or something. I could now appreciate the phenomenal drumming of Simon Kirke, and McRalph’s tone rich and tasteful guitar playing, but what stands out even more is Paul’s singing. He is simply the Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhodes, etc of singers. Can’t buy into that? Tell me this then: Name one 60 year old singer or older who can sing pitch perfect, heartfelt, note for note, IN THE SAME KEY IT WAS ORIGINALLY RECORDED IN, every song from his/her first recording? As cliché as it sounds, the guy has actually improved with age. Speaking of age, it would appear that Paul Rodgers seems to be immune to the ravages of the inevitable. He doesn’t look a day over forty.

It’s hard to believe that there are deep cuts on the debut record since most of the tracks are FM radio heavy rotation staples: Can’t Get Enough, Movin’ On, Ready For Love, Rock Steady (one of the best vocal recording EVER), and the title track, but the gold is in the two ‘deep cuts’, ‘The Way That I Choose’, and the slow blues number ‘Don’t Let Me Down’. You can practically hear Simon Kirke coming off of his drum stool as he crashes around his kit in Don’t Let Me Down’s finale. Amazingly enough, the debut Bad Co record was recorded in 10 days using some spare downtime Zeppelin’s mobile recording unit found. Ten days to create a masterpiece. Isn’t it funny how things work out that way? Sure, The Firm may not pass muster to some, but denying greatness to Bad Company’s first album, Straight Shooter, and Runnin’ with the Pack borders on criminal behavior.


At 8:08 AM, March 18, 2009, Blogger Jackson said...

I hope Mr. Rogers makes the show. I laways liked and gave much respect to Bad Company though I don't worship the man like you do. Shit, imagine if Paul Rogers was a West Point Grad. He'd be your God.

I would say that my only criticism of Bad Company is that they're a bit safe. There's not much danger lurking beneath the surface. I like danger.

At 10:34 AM, March 20, 2009, Blogger Tony Alva said...

It's the singer thing... We can all rattle the names of rocks greatest guitar gun slingers off the top of our heads on demand and are all familiar with so many of their nuances from so many songs it’s scary, but singers become a harder task to catalog in the same way even though it can be argued that singers impact to a bands sound is equal to that of guitar players. What makes Paul Rogers a great singer is what you hear with the head phones on, the little soul filled run he’ll do during a segue into a guitar solo section, bridge, outro, etc…

I’m not sure I can muster a defense of the “play it safe” aspect of their music since I can get bored of love songs myself, but through those first three records and especially that first one, it really doesn’t matter since the sound, the performances, and the song writing are just so magnificent. Give ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ a headphone listen and see if it doesn’t add clout to my posit.

At 2:22 PM, March 20, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must be one of those old friends who didn't hang with the others too much. I guess I was a bit older ;-)
I even remember talking at length about how Paul is one of the best rock singers ever.
hint - my fav is Simple Man

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