from the album Holy Water (1990)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #16 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 8
Today's song of the day comes from the British hard rock band Bad Company, who came together in London in the early 70's as a sort of "supergroup" of veterans of other bands. Lead singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke were in the blues-rock group Free, who scored a top-5 pop hit in America in 1970 with the guitar-rock classic "All Right Now". Mick Ralphs was one of the two guitarists in Mott The Hoople during the time of their biggest success, the top-40 "All The Young Dudes". Joining them was bass player Boz Burrell, who was in the progressive rock juggernaut King Crimson for their Lizard album. With that history, there was built-up anticipation for Bad Company's self-titled first album, which landed them a #5 hit in the States (and #15 in the UK) with their first single "Can't Get Enough", while the record topped the albums chart in the U.S. in 1974. A year later, their sophomore effect Straight Shooter, which sent another song, "Feel Like Making Love", to #10 on the American pop chart and #20 in Britain. Both these albums were notable in that this "British" pedigreed band sounded more like the chunky gruff guitar fare of American bands, and that continued with their third record Run With The Pack, and resulted in a third consecutive top ten album and a top-20 pop hit with "Young Blood". However, as disco ruled mainstream radio and arena rock took over the turntables in the late 70's, their fourth release, Burnin' Sky, failed to give them a top-40 pop hit. Adapting to flush out their sound to a more electronic production, their 1979 effort Desolation Angels returned them to the top 20 in America with the rock radio staple "Rock and Roll Fantasy" (#13). But after a four-year break and another album in 1982, Rough Diamonds, fell through the cracks, even though single "Electricland" was a big hit at rock radio, spending two weeks at #2 on Billboard's Rock Tracks chart, but sputtered out at #74 on the pop list (which was dominated with soft-rock at the time). Bad Company would call it quits (if just temporarily) after that.
In 1986, Ralphs and Kirke revived the Bad Company name, though at the time Rodgers was busy teamed up with Lep Zeppelin axe Jimmy Page in The Firm ("Radioactive"). They instead hired Brian Howe, a British singer who had previously worked with Ted Nugent. Their first record together, Fame and Fortune, was the act's first to miss the top 100 on the albums chart (#106), but did have a moderately successful rock radio hit with "This Love" (#12) that slipped on to the pop Hot 100 at #85. Adding keyboardist Greg Dechert from Uriah Heep changed the sound dramatically, making them sound more like Foreigner (natch, with producer Keith Olsen on board). Although Burrell was credited on the album, it was actually Steve Price that played on the set.
Dropping Dechert to going back to a four-piece, Bad Company's next record, Dangerous Age, was a winner, landing three songs on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart top ten: "No Smoke Without A Fire" (#4), "One Night" (#9), and the hook-laden "Shake It Up", which also peaked at #87 on the pop chart. The album went gold (selling over a half-million copies), and with the set emphasizing the guitar hooks again (helped by producer Terry Thomas, who did magic with the underrated band Charlie in the 1980s), their momentum was rising on rock radio.
Price left them a trio of Ralphs, Kirke, and Howe for the act's next album, Holy Water, but that didn't slow things, with Thomas again producing and filling out their sound for the new decade. The title track was released as the first single, and while it was their third lead-off to stall out in the 80s on the pop chart (#89), it was their first to top Billboard's rock radio chart for two weeks. A second track from the album, "Boys Cry Tough", went to #3 on that list for two weeks, but pop radio gave it no attention. But by the spring of 1991, with the band touring with Howe's old compadre Nugent's new band Damn Yankees, Bad Company released their most pop-oriented single of the set, the "power-ballad" "If You Needed Somebody". Written by Howe and Thomas, the song finally gave the veteran rock band a proper "comeback"...
"If You Needed Somebody" became Bad Company's lucky seventh top-40 pop hit in the U.S. (and first in over ten years) in March of 1991. The single also climbed to #2 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock radio chart for two weeks. The single was also a minor hit in Canada at #51, but missed the British list altogether.
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Here's the band performing the song live in Pennsylvania in 1991...
Up tomorrow: Punk icon gets a little sweet with a beehive.