"Bad Company In Concert: Merchants of Cool" (CD and DVD) (Sanctuary; 2002)

Reviewed by Shelly Harris

Bad Company and its (quite seriously) "fabulous" vocalist/frontman/guitarist/songwriter, Paul Rodgers, bring new, intensified meaning to the word "timeless." This Bad Company live release, recorded earlier this year, and accompanied by a live DVD (with interviews and "extras" including guest appearances by Slash, Neil Schon, and several others) demonstrates with stunning clarity the primal and powerful appeal of a true rock'n'roll band that is really still at its best, and should also be a major herald to the youth culture worshippers and other Doubting Thomases that -- yes! -- artists on the level with Rodgers (one of THE best rock vocalists ever to croon a tune) and Simon Kirke, et al. actually DO become more breathtakingly effective with age. However, it is a very good thing that  this DVD paints a picture that has to be seen and heard to be believed.

Indeed, on the 14 cut CD, which includes many of Bad Company's most renowned hits, along with the band's rapidly rising new single (the tongue-in-cheek, contemporary, and entrancingly eastern-influenced "Joe Fabulous"), Rodgers, who commands the stage and mic with nonchalant  expertise, is at his bluesy, improvisational best. Indeed, "passion" might as well be The Man's middle name. Yes, here he demonstrates for all to hear (and see) just why he has continued to be one of the most respected vocalists in the business throughout his 35+ year career and why -- even amongst legendary "supergroups"-- Bad Company remains in a class of its own. (Witness the 2001  Volunteers for America event, where even amongst contemporaries like Journey, Styx, REO, etc., the bad boys from Britain stole the show.) 

While Bad Company really are a band that must be witnessed live to fully comprehend the depth of their talents, this CD (and especially the DVD), is still a must for a new generation of rock'n'roll lovers searching for something real, as well as an aural connection between the past and present. On the other hand, it is also a poignant reminder (for those who were around since the band's knockout debut nearly 30 years ago) just how exhilarating and soul-satisfying Bad Company's authentic brand of blues-based power rock can be. 

Forget "Merchants" -- these guys are truly the Masters of Cool. 

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2002 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Jun 2018 20:14:10 -0400.