Bad Company - Fame and Fortune
May 6, 2021
20
(Six years later)
I can't BELIEVE I held off for so long! This new Paul Rodgers-less Bad Company KICKS ASS! Listen to that tough-as-nails bar band-style riff in "Burning Up"! It's almost like Mick Ralphs JUST picked up the guitar for the first time and started WAILIN' on it! Back to basics indeed! Like the most primal heartbeat of molten lava twisted and melded with the finest in slick production technology - sweetened and topped with the emotional wail of Brian Howe, a performer with a style so unique, you'll NEVER be able to decide whether he sounds just like the guy in Foreigner or exactly like the guy in Survivor.

OH GOD, song 2 just came on and it's not the ONLY thing in the room that just came! LISTEN at that tinkly faggotass keyboard and seXXXophone dripping with urban lust and monkeyshines -- forget your Slaughter, Winger and Bullet Boys - this is power balladry. "This Love," man - the hit single. And GOD KNOWS it made every critics' list that year, especially Christgau, who called it "the most eloquent statement of bloodthirsty lust since 'Burning Up,' the song directly before it on the same album, a slice of artistic visionry that will never be topped - at least not until the balls-to-the-wall siren wail of the title track smashes the listener's face in moments after the fadeout."

Not to mention the lyrical matter! Leaving the cheap sophomoric sentiments of the old, long-forgotten Bad Company (what I now call Pre-Bad Company) in the dust, Fame And Fortune takes a giant leap forward with inspirational, unforgettable tomes like "Hold On To My Heart," "When We Made Love" and the cute little existentialist trick they played wherein the track "Fame And Fortune" is placed between "This Love" and "That GIrl." And Brian Howe is damn straight - in today's commercialized society where the brass ring is everybody's goal, it's the fame and fortune that TRULY attracts a man's attention from this love to that girl.

Quite simply, this is the most brilliantly understated rock opera since the creation of the genre. When we first meet the narrator, he is "Burning Up For Your Love," but by the end of the album, as he experiences the excitement of unleashed passion and the pain and regret of love/loss over and over again, he implores, "If I'm sleeping -- DON'T WAKE ME UP!" He wants nothing to do with hurtful women, or life itself, anymore. "Bad Company" indeed!

Musically, this album is the epitome of mid-80s hard rock -- in fact, I'd go so far as to call it mid-80s hard rock personified. You will find no more accurate example of mid-80s hard rock than the music on this LP. It is, quite simply, extraordinary in its sheer ordinariness, a trait that was quite obviously intentional on the part of the Bards Ralphs, Kirke, Howe and Burrell. It's not what they offer -- it's what they HOLD BACK from the listener that makes all the impact. As the listener slowly but surely realizes that the album is completely devoid of creative hooks, intelligent production, interesting vocals or lyrics that aren't absolutely submoronic, he feels even more completely the plight of the narrator as he experiences the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."

A minimalist masterpiece. I give it a 2.

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