Classic Rock Corner

Bad Company Steps Out Of Led Zeppelin's Shadow

Bad Company Live at Wembley Eagle Vision, 110 mins., $14.98.

Though they were originally thought of as Led Zeppelin's "little brother band," sharing both a label and manager, Bad Company forged their own mark with a string of powerful records in the '70s and a bunch of hits that have become FM-radio and cover-band staples.

Changing lineups, breakups, and sporadic reunions marked the '80s to recent times, but the remaining original members - Paul Rodgers (vocals), Mick Ralphs (guitar), and Simon Kirke (drums) - got back together for this 2010 run of dates - including this gig at England's Wembley Stadium, augmented by bassist Lynn Sorensen and second guitarist Howard Leese. Original bassist Boz Burrell died in 2006.

The result? Classic Rock Power!

This is no rote run of tired old guys sleepwalking through their set list. Live at Wembley is a surprisingly vital and punchy show, mixing 16 of the band's biggest hits with some deep cuts and covers.

Standouts include "Honey Child," "Burnin' Sky," a mandolin-infused "Feel Like Makin' Love," "Rock and Roll Fantasy," and "Gone, Gone, Gone" - the last a tribute to Burrell, who wrote the tune. A take on the '50s doo-wop classic "Young Blood" is also a lot of fun, with each member calling out the come-on lines to the sexy chick of the title. Ralphs and Leese also engage in some twin-guitar action throughout.

But what's most interesting about the DVD is that is shows how underrated a frontman the 60-year-old Paul Rodgers is. Energetic, animated, and ripped - he obviously works out and told Rocks Off why some years back - he's lost minimal vocal chops from the original records. But, man, that hairpiece has got to go...

One complaint though, is in the editing. Far too many quick cuts via a multitude of angles, some lasting a fraction of a second, are an assault on the eyes. Unfortunately, this seems to be the trend in videos, which aren't aiming to replicate the concert experience so much as appease super-short attention-spanners.

It's a shame, and doesn't give the viewer a chance to really observe the players..

Bonus features include interviews with the band, and companion CD features all of the tunes on the DVD except for "Burnin' Sky."

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero