Bad Company: Straight Shooter - Album Of The Week Club review

Recorded just three months after their debut, Bad Company's Straight Shooter was more of the same. Or was it?

Bad Company - Straight Shooter
(Image: © Island Records)

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Bad Company - Straight Shooter

Bad Company: Straight Shooter

(Image credit: Island Records)

Good Lovin' Gone Bad
Feel Like Makin' Love
Weep No More
Shooting Star
Deal with the Preacher
Wild Fire Woman
Call on Me

The 1970s was a time when survivors from deceased 60s bands found solace in each other’s arms. Exhibit A: Bad Company, aka Free’s Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke, Mott The Hoople’s Mick Ralphs and King Crimson’s Boz Burrell. 

Recorded just three months after their debut album, follow-up Straight Shooter tends to get overlooked now in the scheme of things, yet it contained several key Bad Company moments. Like its predecessor, this was another rollicking ride through the band’s staple themes of gambling, whiskey and women. And while not as successful as Bad Co, it’s arguably just as good.

"There were some great songs on there," Rodgers told us. "I think, when you have a smash-hit album, you come back in the studio and say, ‘Now, what did we do again?’ With Straight Shooter, we thought, let’s recreate a similar situation. 

"Anyway, the follow-up had to be as strong as the one that you had already put out – and I think we pulled it off, actually. Good Lovin’ Gone Bad was ginormous. Feel Like Makin’ Love. I still do Shooting Star in my solo band now. Wild Fire Woman: when I listen to that chorus now, I think, ‘How in the hell did I get up there?’”

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Other albums released in April 1975

  • Journey - Journey
  • Will O' The Wisp - Leon Russell
  • Toys in the Attic - Aerosmith
  • Fish Rising - Steve Hillage
  • Stampede - The Doobie Brothers
  • Ain't Life - Grand Black Oak Arkansas
  • The Beau Brummels - The Beau Brummels
  • Beautiful Loser - Bob Seger
  • Diamonds & Rust - Joan Baez
  • Hair of the Dog - Nazareth
  • Hokey Pokey - Richard and Linda Thompson
  • Ian Hunter - Ian Hunter
  • Jamaica Say You Will - Joe Cocker
  • The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table - Rick Wakeman
  • New City - Blood, Sweat & Tears
  • Playing Possum - Carly Simon
  • The Snow Goose - Camel
  • Straight Shooter - Bad Company
  • Subtle as a Flying Mallet - Dave Edmunds
  • Survival - The O'Jays
  • Tomorrow Belongs to Me - Sensational Alex Harvey Band
  • Fandango - ZZ Top

What they said...

"Where Bad Company was stark, minimalist hard rock, Straight Shooter bears lots of different, vibrant colours: acoustic guitars are used for light and shade, guitars are channelled through chorus pedals, pianos and organs alternate with the occasional wash of strings, and the entire thing feels bigger and bolder than before." (AllMusic

"Forsaking the constant thunder-thudding drone motif of ’74 in favour of a more textured approach, the group uses subdued acoustic guitar and tight vocal harmonies during most of the verses, saving the harsh electrical shocks for the head-slamming choruses. It’s a relatively simple 'calm before the storm' setup, but Bad Company milks it for all its effectiveness." (Rolling Stone)

"This rocks even more consistently than Bad Co., but to argue that it epitomizes hard rock as a style is not only to overlook its deliberate speed but to believe in one's (usually male) heart that Paul Rodgers is the ideal rock singer. You hear that a lot; what it seems to mean is that he doesn't shriek when he gets to the loud parts. Rodgers's power is no more interesting than Tom Jones's, and Jones is twice as subtle. If hard rock doesn't have more to offer, it's not worth arguing about." (Robert Christgau)

What you said...

John Davidson: Bad Company are a band that I’m more familiar with through “best of’s” rather than from owning whole albums and listening to Straight Shooter I can see why but temper that with a recognition that a couple of listens isn’t enough time for the deep cuts to earn their place in anyone's affections..

I can say that with certainty because I got to like a number of songs on the much more lacklustre Desolation Angels (which perhaps says more about the buying power of a 16-year-old and the need to wring as much joy as you could out of that one album a month you could afford)

With four songs being really good and the other four being competent/solid blues based rock there is nothing really to complain about.

By modern standards it is all a bit safe and dependable, and you can see where bands like Foreigner and later followers got their inspiration, but you can’t blame Rodgers for having a pleasant soulful voice or him and Mick Ralphs for having a good ear for a melody.

Mick Ralphs is a good guitarist but he’s not on the level of a Jimmy Page or Paul Kossoff and his solos, while effective, don't have a huge variety to them.

The bass and drums are solid with as good a groove as one might hope for.

If I am nit-picking, the production is a bit muffled /flat in places (listening to the 2015 remaster on Spotify) but certainly not bad.

For the most part, Bad Company buck the trend of many ‘supergroups’ by actually being pretty good.

They produced some stone cold classic blues rock songs over a five year period from 74 to 79 and this album landed bang in the middle of that period. With Feel Like Makin Love and Shooting Star this album contains two of their finest while Good Lovin Gone Bad  and Deal With The Preacher are no slouches either. The rest is competent album filler that might (with time ) become treasured gems. But not for me so far.

Definitely a 7.5 - I'll decide to round up or down before the voting

Uli Hassinger: It‘s hard to go on after a release of a nearly perfect album as a debut. They did well but couldn’t catch up.

This is an album everybody should love. Solid songwriting, soulful singer, skilful musicians. The only critic that could be brought up is, that it is partly too smooth. The best example is Anna, which is kind of cheesy and the weakest song of the album.

Whereas their debut contains only hits, the real crackers are missing here. To me only Shooting Star and Weep No More are standing out. The rest is solid 70s rock. It still deserves 8/10.

Hai Kixmiller: Bad Company's Straight Shooter is cooler than a Yeti Chest full of your favourite ice-cold beer. Loaded with catchy guitar hooks, solid diamond hits, and shiny gems, all galloping along like the warm summer sun moving across a lazy day.

This is one of my favourite albums to play when I'm down fishing on the dock. Whether I'm reeling in Slabs or just in a torpid state of mind, Straight Shooter has me bouncing along like the bobber on my fishing line.

In my car, Straight Shooter has me flying down the dirt road. Windows down, mirrored shades on, hand out the window, air surfing. Fingers tapping the steering wheel, and air drumming in time with the music with a big smile on my face. Taking corners too damn fast, fish-tailing, tires spittin' dust and gravel. Gettin' yelled at and cursed at by the "old folks", lol, just acting like a dumb kid again... yeah... nothing like good music man... damn good music!

Marco LG: It is perhaps widely recognised we never stray too far from our musical taste as teenagers. That is very true for me, as a teenager of the late 80s I am more likely to listen to 1987 than Saints & Sinners, more attuned to Eliminator than Rio Grande Mud, and to address this week’s pick, more on the side of Bad Company than Free. In simple terms, between the blues and the rock I will always prefer the latter, especially when it’s concise and to the point.

I arrived to Bad Company, as to much of the mid-seventies rock catalogue, through a meandering journey across the entire spectrum of the genre, as such I was already familiar with Free but not yet acquainted with Mott the Hoople. In fact, I realised only this week the band also included Boz Burrell, fresh out of King Crimson. It’s amazing how many successful albums involve King Crimson alumni, the debuts by Foreigner and Asia being the best examples.

A few of the songs contained in this sophomore effort by Bad Company are true classics who contributed to the evolution of our favourite music. I will go as far as saying that Feel Like Makin’ Love had as much influence in the sound of 80s AOR as More Than A Feeling, and that alone is enough to elevate Straight Shooter a notch above the debut in my opinion. As a full album however this week’s pick fails to grip my attention from start to finish, there is nothing I loathe in it but a few of the songs just don’t reach the same levels of energy and excitement of the rest, breaking the rhythm a bit and ultimately having me reaching for the skip button.

Putting it all together in a single score I will have to go for a 7 out of 10: the best bits are a straight 10 but at least half of the album is around 5 for me.

Alex Hayes: Bad Company's Straight Shooter album. Now, that's what I call classic rock.

Firstly though, a confession. When it comes to Bad Company as a band, I'm ashamed to say that I used to be one of the guilty ones. A long standing Free fan, for many years I pooh-poohed BC as a bit of a cheap, AOR-driven, knock-off of the former. I underestimated them though, and can openly admit to that nowadays. I've only ever been interested in that initial Paul Rodgers era of the band however. I'm totally unfamiliar with the group's output, post-Rough Diamonds.

It was a fantastic run while it lasted though. 1975's Straight Shooter, the band's second album, very much adheres to the maxim of 'If it ain't broke...'. It successfully replicates a formula that was established across the eight tracks on BC's terrific, self-titled, debut album from the previous year, albeit with a tad more depth. That slightly more refined level of song-writing craft reaches its zenith on Shooting Star, the album's stand-out track. That may be an understatement actually, it's arguably the finest moment of the band's entire career.

Some fans still prefer the debut over Straight Shooter. To be honest, you genuinely can't go wrong with either album. They both serve up a charming blend of straight ahead, bluesy rockers and more thoughtful, expressive, softer, ballad-type tracks. That turned out to be a winning musical concoction for Bad Company, serving them very effectively, right into the early 80s.

One refreshing musical trait that BC do share with Free is the band's reluctance to over-embellish things needlessly. Mick Ralphs' relatively simple, but delightfully effective, guitar work on Feel Like Makin' Love is just one of many good examples of that thrift. Why play ten notes when a couple will do just fine? Bad Company easily side-stepped that little conundrum.

Sometimes, when being exposed to music for the first time, a person's current environment and circumstances can be important in relation to a creating a lasting impression. With that in mind, the first handful of BC albums remind me of days spent travelling through the Yorkshire Dales one summer, around a decade ago. Memories of sunshine, quaint country lanes, pubs, and outstanding natural beauty complement this music like fine wine, especially on the more reflective tracks.

This is a marvellous album. I made a bad judgement call on Bad Company all those years ago. That was a mistake, and one that I can now happily own up to. 8/10

Greg Schwepe: Back to the album review process after a few weeks! And as others have said for some albums chosen; “I don’t even have to listen to it…know every song by heart!” Will finally give an album a 9 out of 10 here.

This to me is Classic Rock with a capital “C” and a capital “R.” Guaranteed to hear something from this on FM radio at least once a day, if not more. You get a great album with a cool cover concept too.

Bought this back on pre-recorded cassette. Not sure why as I had the Bad Co. debut on vinyl. Maybe so I could quickly pop it into my aftermarket cassette player in my car moments after leaving the record store. Guess that was a good thing because I remember Good Lovin’ Gone Bad kicking in and going “Wow, they did it again!”

So here you have a “supergroup” with talented musicians putting out their sophomore album all while avoiding the sophomore slump. A lot of things going in their favour; great songs, great vocals and instruments, and the backing and promotion of Zeppelin’s “Swan Song” label. You don’t always get four guys together with their pedigrees and instantly get success. But in this case you do.

Of the eight cuts, at least four are the FM radio staples from this outing; Good Lovin’ Gone Bad, Feel Like Makin’ Love, Shooting Star, and Deal With The Preacher. Of the four remaining songs, Wild Fire Woman is the only one that really grabs me. Weep No More, Anna, and Call On Me are OK, but for “not the hits” tracks, I’ll take the ones from Desolation Angels over these on Straight Shooter.

In a creative writing class back in high school we were studying ballads (“A ballad is a type of poem that tells a story and was traditionally set to music.”) and we had to find a ballad or story song, then convert it to a short story. Having been listening to Straight Shooter, I immediately thought “OhShooting Star is totally a story song! Johnny wants to be a rock star, gets famous, takes drugs, then dies! Gotta write this stuff down.” Turned in the assignment and the teacher was going to pick a few stories and play the song the story was based on. So, for six minutes and 17 seconds in creative writing class we got to jam along to this Bad Co. classic after she read my story! I got many high fives from my classmates (the Devil Horn salute thingy had not been invented yet!)

I digress, back to the review. So, what is it about this album (and Bad Co. in general) that makes it so appealing? The whole “what’s not to like?” thing. My theory is Bad Co.’s “middle of the road-ness” What’s that? Well, they are right in the middle and hit the sweet spot on a lot of things. Songs not too simple to be boring, and not too overly complex to lose some listeners. Even an obvious song about “makin’ love” does not come across as too crass or cheesy. Maybe the killer riff tones down the cheesiness?

Vocals just “spot on” and not all over the place, though Paul Rodgers could do that if he wants. One of rock's great vocalists. Mick Ralphs' guitar? Simple, memorable licks sprinkled all throughout the songs. The outro solo on Shooting Star? A masterclass! Bass and drums, just right. Ever seen Simon Kirke’s drum kit? Pretty spartan. And sometimes that’s just what you need, nothing more.

And lastly, this album sounds great blasting out of a car with the windows rolled down and sunroof wide open. Plus, the aspiring air guitar player or air drummer has plenty to practice to on this album. Because man, it’s that feeling you get with some good classic rock!

Martin Boucher: Another superb album from Bad Co. Good Lovin' Gone Bad, Feel Like Makin' Love, Weep No More, Shooting Star. Four stand out tracks from a brilliant follow up to their seminal debut. Music doesn't get much better than this.

Philip Qvist: Paul Rodgers remains a great singer, musician and songwriter, but if you want to hear him at his peak then I recommend Free's catalogue (Tons Of Sobs, Fire And Water and Heartbreaker in particular) and Bad Co's first three albums.

I have never seen Bad Company as a poor substitute for Free, not with the likes of Mick Ralphs on board, nor do I see Straight Shooter inferior in any way to their self titled debut.

With songs like Deal With The Preacher, Shooting Star, Feel Like Makin' Love, Weep No More and Good Lovin' Gone Bad, Straight Shooter is a great follow up to Bad Co; and I have difficulty trying to separate the two albums - both are quality records and we should all be grateful for that.

Maybe there was a drop in quality on their subsequent four albums, but in my opinion there is no such thing as a bad Bad Co album - even Rough Diamonds is not the total train smash that critics would have us believe.

Second album difficulties for this band? Not with Straight Shooter - 9/10 for me.

Mike Ollier: It's OK, elevated by Feel Like Makin' Love. Never understood the noise around Bad Co - far less than the three former bands the members were in. A very ordinary band.

Richard Cardenas: Great record. Because COVID has allowed me time that I don’t typically have, I recently listened to their entire catalogue. This album is full of gems and could be easily called their best although I leave that designation for the first release. A 9/10.

Evan Sanders: I'm with those who vote for Bad Company's debut as their best one. I give it 7/10, only because their debut is 8/10. It does contain two of their best songs in Feel Like Makin' Love and Shooting Star. The B side isn't as strong as their debut B side, which started with the title song and finished with Seagull, an early power ballad before every band was doing those. Given the short running time of both Bad Company and Straight Shooter, I will cheat and say that the combo is an excellent CD and should be in everybody's classic rock collection.

Erik Moone: Such a great album. Probably one of the only bands that can blend bluesy, hard rock riffs with soft vocals. Yet when Paul Rogers does belt out some powerful vocals, he makes it sound so effortless. Their debut album was great and without fault, and all the songs were really tight. But I personally like the more heavier style they were producing on Straight Shooter.

Rick Rohner: Great album. Still have the vinyl. Feel Like Makin' Love and Shooting Star are amazing but other songs may get over looked do to those two songs. Good Lovin' Gone Bad, Deal With The Preacher and Wild Fire Woman are also fantastic. I would have swapped out Anna for See The Sunlight. Would have made the album even better.

Final Score: 8.22⁄10 (182 votes cast, with a total score of 1497)

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