Bad Company vs Free

January 12, 2019

 

Free 1968-1973

 

Free, led by vocalist Paul Rodgers, was formed in 1968 and referred to by Rolling Stone as “British Hard Rock Pioneers” [6] In an interview for SongwriterUniverse written by By Dale Kawashima, Rodgers discusses how the band came to be.

 

Well, I was in London and I had a little band called Brown Sugar. We were playing in a club and the promoter loved the blues, so he hired blues bands. We played there, and then (guitarist) Paul Kossoff turned up and asked if he could get up onstage and jam, and I said, “Absolutely.” I had heard of him and I knew he was a good guitar player. So he got onstage and we jammed, and we did “Every Day I Have The Blues” and “Stormy Monday.” In those days, blues was everywhere—you could jump on stage and everyone knew the blues songs like “Spoonful” or “Stormy Monday.” And there was such a magic in Kossoff’s playing that I really liked…we just clicked straight-away musically. So I said to him, “Well, we must form a band.” And Free was born out of that. [5]

 

Free released their debut album in 1969 [5] but their earlier studio albums didn’t gain as much backing and support until their release of Fire and Water, which featured hit song “All Right Now”.

 

It was funny…we were doing a show one night and I said, “We need a song that’s actually better than ‘The Hunter,’ if that’s even possible (laughs). And we need to make it something that the crowd could join in with, like say…All Right Now (he sings it loudly). And maybe that’s actually it! I picked up the guitar and worked out the chords for singing “All Right Now,” and then Andy (Fraser) took that away and came back with the opening guitar riff (Paul sings the riff). So we had the verse chords and a chorus.[5] 

 

That album propelled them into the spotlight and gained Free even more international attention. During the 1970’s, Free became one of the best-selling British Blues Rock Bands. [7] [8] [9] and went on to sell over 20 Million albums worldwide with hit “All Right Now” having over One Million spins on radio. [10] [11]

 

Bad Company Original Members 1973-1982

 

Bad Company, also led by Paul Rodgers, was formed after the breakup of Free in 1973. [5] Bad Company arose to new heights becoming one of the defining bands of Classic Rock.

 

After Free… I hooked up with (guitarist) Mick Ralphs...We were just sitting there with a couple of guitars, and Mick and I would noodle around. One day he played me “Can’t Get Enough,” and I said, “Wow, that’s a hit, man. Will Mott the Hoople be playing that?” And he said, “No, actually it’s not really the character of the band, so we won’t be doing it.” Then I said, “Well, give it to me, I’ll certainly sing that.” [5]

 

Then I played him [my song] “Rock Steady,” and we started to write songs together. That was the basis around which we built Bad Company. We just fell into creating songs together. [5]

 

In 1974 they released their debut self-titled album Bad Company making it the first album released on Led Zeppelin’s Swan Songs Record Label [2] [5].  It gained international success topping the U.S. album charts and scoring with the number one single "Can't Get Enough of Your Love." [3] The album later went on to be certified platinum 5 times by the RIAA [12]

 

"We were influenced by people like Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and, to a certain extent, the Beatles," explains Rodgers. "We were just trying to play what felt good and natural. I think that is what gave us our identity as a band."  

 

 “We would play soul and blues favorites at rehearsals instead of learning new songs.  My favorite guitarist, the man inspired me to play, was Steve Cropper.  I guess we wanted to be the MG’s with Otis Redding.  Basically, we played like a bar band but soon it was clear that the bars were getting very large indeed!” [2] 

 

Bad Company continued their success with their next five albums. Straight Shooter, their second album which featured hit “Feel Like Makin’ Love also went platinum, which included well-known hits like “Can’t Get Enough,” “Movin’ On,” “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and more. They released a total of six albums during their time together with their original line-up.

 

Rodgers is regarded as one of the best male vocalists of all time and is on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time [5] [13]

 

Anthony Gomes Commentary

 

This is an interesting match-up because half of both bands were made of the same band members (vocalist Paul Rodgers and Drummer Simon Kirke).

 

One of the amazing things about Free is that they were so young (ages 16-20) but they sounded so mature.  The record company wanted them to change their name from ‘Free’ to 'Heavy Metal Kids' but the band stood their ground.  They were also a virtuoso band. Incredible guitarist and bassist. They really used the Jeff Beck group's Truth album as a jumping off point.  They were raw, bluesy, youthful and gutsy.  One of my favorite bands.  Maybe my favorite of all time. Who knows where they could have gone had guitarist Paul Kossoff not lost his tragic battle with substance abuse.

 

Bad Company, another of my favorites, is a more polished song orientated hit machine.  In many ways I look it as an extension of Free.  Mick Ralphs brought some extra songwriting power to the table.  Together with Rodgers, they penned some rock classics.  The first two Bad Company albums are as good as it gets.  They were managed by the famous Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant and were signed to the band’s Swan Song label.  It seems like overnight they became superstars.

 

It’s tough to pick a favorite but, ultimately, I would pick Free.  So does Paul Rodgers.  In a recent interview with Sammy Hagar he was asked which group was his favorite and he said Free.  I only discovered how great they were a few years ago.  I knew 'Alright Now' but that was pretty much it.  I can't believe what I was missing.  I love the chemistry between the vocals and guitar.  Paul Kossoff was a guitar hero and a perfect match for Paul Rodgers golden voice.  That's something that I always felt was missing in Bad Company.  Robert Plant had Jimmy Page, Axl has Slash, Steven Tyler has Joe Perry and Rodgers had Kossoff.  I think Kossoff also pushed Rodgers as a vocalist.

 

In the UK Free is more popular than Bad Company and vice versa in the United States.  My goal for this match up was to get North American fans turned on to Free.  I was a Bad Company fan for years without knowing much about Free.  I was missing out on half the story.  So, if you are a BC fan do yourself a favor and listen to some Free today!   

 

Favorite Free Tracks:

 

Fire and Water

Heartbreaker

Ride A Pony

Wishing Well

Walk In My Shadows

 

Favorite Bad Company Tracks:

 

Bad Company

Shooting Star

Burning Sky

Good Love Gone Bad

Can’t Get Enough

 

 

The Winner of our Bad Company vs Free Match Up:

 

The Fans Voted and when the votes were tallied the WINNER is Bad Company by 4 Votes!

 

 

References:

  1. http://www.paulrodgers.com/

  2. http://www.badcompany.com/

  3. https://www.allmusic.com/artist/bad-company-mn0000075100/biography

  4. https://www.allmusic.com/artist/free-mn0000193216/biography

  5. https://www.songwriteruniverse.com/paul-rodgers-interview-2018.htm

  6. "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Rolling Stone.

  7. Nick Talevski (7 April 2010). Rock Obituaries – Knocking on Heaven's Door. Omnibus Press. pp. 348–. ISBN 978-0-85712-117-2.

  8. Pete Prown; Harvey P. Newquist (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 76–. ISBN 978-0-7935-4042-6.

  9. John Tobler (1991). Who's who in rock & roll. Crescent Books. p. 1988. ISBN 978-0-517-05687-5.

  10. "iTunes – Music – Paul Rodgers". Itunes.apple.com. Retrieved 18 April 2014.

  11. "Information on Paul Rodgers". Living Legends Music. 28 June 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011.

  12. "Bad Company RIAA certification". www.riaa.com. Archived from the originalon 2015-09-24.

  13. "The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time". Rolling Stone(1066): 73. 27 November 2008. 

 

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