Bad Company – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More Bad Company

More Bad Company – Bad Company

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame  and a recording that comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

The sound was JUMPING out of the speakers and filling the room. 

Sometimes a copy is just BIGGER than the others – it’s somehow physically wider and taller than other pressings, how we haven’t a clue — and that’s exactly what this copy had more of than any other: SIZE. If you’ve never heard a rock record like this — and knowing how rare they are it’s more than possible — you are in for a treat here.

If you’re a fan of this kind of stuff (as we definitely are) you aren’t going to want to let this one get away. Movin’ On and the title track are going to absolutely blow your mind. The best sounding tracks have MASTER TAPE QUALITY SOUND.

This one’s got exactly what you want from the album — amazing clarity, punchy bass, BIG drums, and lots of energy. The guitars sound exactly right: grungy and distorted with loads of tubey richness.

This side one was not competitive with our best side ones, but still has much to recommend it. We rated it A+ to A++. It’s big and bold with good energy, but flipping the record over to side two will show you more whomp as well as better extension on both ends.

The tambourine is key here: when all the harmonics are audible, you know the top end on the master tape made it to the record. So many copies lack that top, and you can really hear it on the tambourine.

The Average Copy

The typical copy hardly hints at the magic found on a Hot Stamper pressing. Drop the needle on most pressings and the sound is just boring — too clean, too dry and way too flat. Where is the energy? These songs sound great on Classic Rock radio but too many copies lack the grungy energy that we know is actually there.

 

Bad Company’s First Two Albums — Compare and Contrast

One thing we noticed after having just done the shootout for the second album is how different the sound of the two albums actually is. Both of them have super-spacious, unprocessed Live In The Studio sound, of that there can be no doubt.

But the first album seems to have a few too many tubes in the recording chain. Although it adds a lovely tubey-magical quality to the sound, and the lack of phony top end boost allows the record to be played at very loud volumes, this tubey sound has a downside. The transients on Straight Shooter have more snap to them. Compare the snare drum on both albums (assuming you have good copies of both). One is a bit fatter than ideal, and — spoiler alert! — it sure ain’t the one on Straight Shooter.

Once you train your ears to more easily recognize that too-tubey sound you may find yourself noticing it on more than just the snare. When playing copy after copy I felt as though I had hooked up my EAR 834P phono stage from years back; that tube sound was everywhere. Now it should be noted that many audiophile systems have lots of tubes in them, sometimes too many, which can create something very much like the sound we’re describing here, but on every record played on them. When playing the typical grainy, gritty, transistory-sounding pressing, all those tubes can and often do work wonders.

We’ve followed a different path, one that revolves around pressings that do not have the above-mentioned shortcomings. The rare right pressing — call it a Hot Stamper if you like — when properly cleaned and played can be reproduced accurately and enjoyed immensely.

A Big Speaker Record

Let’s face it, this is a BIG SPEAKER recording. It requires a pair of speakers that can move air with authority below 250 cycles and play at loud levels. If you don’t own speakers that can do that, this record will never really sound the way it should.

It demands to be played LOUD. It simply cannot come to life the way the producers, engineers and artists involved intended for it to if you play it at moderate levels.

 

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Can’t Get Enough
Rock Steady
Ready For Love
Don’t Let Me Down

Side Two

Bad Company
The Way I Choose
Movin’ On
Seagull

AMG Review

Bad Company’s 1974 self-titled release stands as one of the most important and accomplished debut hard rock albums from the ’70s … it was one of the most successful steps in the continuing evolution of rock & roll, riding on the coattails of achievement from artists like the Eagles and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. From the simple electric guitar lick on “Can’t Get Enough” to the haunting bassline in “Bad Company” and the fast beats of “Movin’ On,” Bad Company exemplified raw rock & roll at its best.

Erupting out of an experimental period created by the likes of Pink Floyd, Bad Company signified a return to more primal, stripped-down rock & roll. Even while labelmates Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy and IV featured highly acclaimed, colorful album artwork, Bad Company’s austere black and white record cover stood out in stark contrast. Six years later, AC/DC used the same idea on their smash Back in Black. Throughout the 35-minute album, Paul Rodgers’ mesmerizing and gritty vocals hardly vary in tonal quality, offering a perfect complement to Mick Ralphs’ blues-based guitar work. Several songs include three-chord verses offset by unembellished, distorted choruses, filled rich with Rodgers’ cries. Bad Company is an essential addition to the rock & roll library; clearly influential to ’70s and ’80s hard rock bands like Tom Petty, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Boston.