Bad Company ~ The ‘Original’ Anthology
Elektra Records
Mann Music Center, Philadelphia, PA

For the past twelve years, Bad Co (as they are so affectionately called) have struggled with one haunting question: What’s more important – the band or the songs? Their reunion tour for the summer of 1999 is out to answer that question. All four ‘original’ members of the band including Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirke, Boz Burrell, and Paul Rodgers have painted on smiles and buried the hatchet to fill arenas with the true Bad Company sound. Helping make the experience last past the group’s two-hour, sweat-soaked set is a $24.99 anthology jam-packed with 33 tried-and-true highlights, again from the original lineup. The box set has most of the hits that make it into the live set plus four new ones: ‘Tracking Down a Runaway,’ ‘Ain’t it Good,’ ‘Hammer of Love,’ and Faces inspired ‘Hey, Hey.’ A couple B-sides (‘Little Miss Fortune,’ ‘Easy on My Soul,’ ‘Whiskey Bottle,’ and ‘Smokin’ 45’), one unreleased tune (‘Superstar Woman’), and one unused mix (‘Do Right By Your Woman’) also make the double-disc set to the delight of fans craving the hard to find treasures.

The songs were intact, so the test was to see if the group could still pack ‘em in 18 years later. It was a ride to strap in for. After nearly two hours of mixing high-octane humidity and blood-sweat, Bad Co proved this version—the original version—was still potent. The group turned out a busload of gold and platinum wonders and pelted the audience with monster FM delights. Every song was a highlight—from ‘Honey Child’ to the piano climax of the band’s soundtrack ‘Bad Company.’ (At the Scranton show, ‘Silver Blue and Gold’ got a surprise introduction as part of the encore set.)

Bad Co did have two separate careers: the ‘original’ Bad Company with the above lineup and the souped up AOR version of the late 80s and early 90s. “The songs never went away,” said Mick Ralphs after the Philly show. “They just had someone else singing. We thought, maybe somewhat naïvely, that we could get away with just changing the singer.” Ralphs (g) and Simon Kirke (d) continued under the band marquee for twelve years dragging the songs around from one shed to the other with two makeshift vocalists (Brian Howe and Robert Hart). “They were good singers but it was a completely different band,” says Ralphs. “We should have changed the name.” The classic era of Bad Company as seen by the band and the fans is the Paul Rodgers-Boz Burrell years.

David Lee Roth opened the show, rolling out all the familiar tunes from ‘Hot For Teacher’ to ‘California Girls.’ His spandex still fits snug in all the right places but his bid for a comeback lacked any sincere attempt. Roth’s only hope is that someday Eddie will invite him over for dinner.