ALL RIGHT NOW!
That’s right, this week’s podcast guest is the voice, vocalist extraordinaire, PAUL RODGERS!
I remember distinctly driving in my mom’s Country Squire on the way to the Yale Bowl for a Herman’s Hermits-headed revival concert (the following week it was Led Zeppelin!) and hearing the mellifluous sound of this track emanating from the dashboard, some cuts you only need to hear once to get, to love, to have them seared into your brain. And as great as Paul’s vocal is, the secret ingredient is Paul Kossoff’s guitar-playing, an axeman Paul considers to be the best ever, and Rodgers has worked with Jimmy Page and…
And while I was ensconced at Middlebury I sent away for a free A&M sampler album entitled “Friends” that contained the Free cut “I’ll Be Creepin’.” You should check it out on the above-linked playlist, it’ll get under your skin, especially when Paul croons “I’ll hold you in my arms/Like nobody else,” you’ll swoon. Be sure to check out the rest of the Free tracks included, most were not hits, certainly not in the U.S., but hopefully, they’re the blueprint for a resurgent blues-rock sound in the United States, there’s genius here.
We couldn’t get enough of their love.
Mick Ralphs? He was overshadowed by Ian Hunter in Mott The Hoople, wasn’t he just a sideman? Turns out, anything but. That track jumped out of radios across America in the summer of ’74, just after I graduated from college, but my favorite cut from the initial LP is the title tune, and I love “Seagull” almost as much, Paul talks about both of them here, as well as having the band’s name first.
And as big as that initial Bad Company album was, the second, STRAIGHT SHOOTER, was even BIGGER! This is the one containing the monster, “Feel Like Makin’ Love.”
“Baby, when I think about you
I think about love”
And then comes the staccato of that machine-gun guitar and…FEEL LIKE MAKIN’ LOVE…FEEL LIKE MAKIN’ LOVE… FEEL LIKE MAKIN’ LOVE…FEEL LIKE MAKIN’ LOVE TO YOU!
And the follow-up album, “Run With The Pack,” opens with the anthem “Live For The Music,” that’s my theme song…
“Some people say I’m a-no good
Layin’ in my bed all day
But when the nighttime comes I’m ready to rock And roll my troubles away”
And right after that…
“Freedom is the only thing that means a damn to me”
Ain’t that the truth. I’m a square peg in a round hole, I don’t fit in, the only place I feel comfortable is in the grasp of a record, which understands me. I hear “Simple Man” and I picture myself atop a mountain, viewing the vast landscape, feeling peaceful and powerful, this is the Bad Company song I sing to myself most.
And Bad Company went on to have more hits. Paul ultimately worked with Jimmy Page, Kenney Jones, Queen and so many more. And despite being ignored by the cognoscenti, he resides in the heart of every dyed-in-the-wool rock fan, talk about being unjustly excluded from the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, that ridiculous institution, Paul Rodgers and his bands are the EPITOME of rock and roll, and if you’re a listener, you know it.
So sitting down with Paul was a great thrill. Because he’s still got it, his intellect and his voice and…listen to him croon herein. Hell, the Bad Company show at the L.A. County Fair (https://bit.ly/2JK312Y) is the best one I’ve seen this decade, the one I enjoyed most, the one that got me out of my brain, that tore away my everyday problems, that had me thrusting my arm in the air believing that music was enough to base an existence upon, that I’d won at this game called life.
That’s the power of music.
That’s the power of rock and roll.
THAT’S THE POWER OF PAUL RODGERS! HE MAKES US FEEL FREE!
Listen to a snippet here: https://bit.ly/2sRvOw7
Responses from Bob’s readers. Please note that these comments are unedited for both content and grammar.
Re: Paul Rodgers
I have to say that Paul Rogers has what is probably the best ever voice for rock and blues rock, and has had that voice for 50 yrs! And one of the reasons is not only the physical gift of his vocal instrument, but the knowledge and, maybe most importantly, the feel for how to use it to its full advantage. It comes naturally to him.
We toured with a Bad Company in the 70’s and in 2009 and it was a treat to listen to them educate the public on the gutsy simplicity and power required to be a true rock band.
My biggest regret is that Free was here and gone so fast. They took a phenomenal drummer in Simon Kirke, and simplistic but powerful bass player in Andy Fraser, and added Paul Kossof’s incendiary guitar in both lead and rhythm and made the ideal group to back a singer like Paul. The tracks were simple and economically rich, lots of space, and they rocked like nobody else before or since! Besides the anthemic “Alright Now”, which was everywhere in that period, songs like “I’ll Be Creepin” told the true story of in your face rock power. You add in Paul’s soulful voice and it was irresistible if you truly love rock on the gut level. It’s moved you!
The fact that Paul isn’t in the HOF is a travesty! And the music industry is crying out for real rock to re-emerge and drive today’s playlists even if they don’t know it. It’s honest and it’s real. No gimmicks, no fluff.
From: Steve Lukather
Re: Paul Rodgers
In my opinion, one of the greatest voices of our generation !
I have had the honor of working with him back in 1994 live and on record. Just incredible and he is also a gentleman’s- gentleman.
To hear THAT voice come out of the monitors in a hall … then while playing the opening riff to All Right Now and turn and hear the REAL voice come out..?
Now was a childhood dream for me and that was a life-changing song for me as a kid.. all of us as kids from my era.
One of the greatest riffs ever written in rock history and Paul and the guys have written so many classics! Historic stuff!
Who doesn’t perk up when they hear that riff ?
Paul Kossoff -WOW- what guitar player!! That sound and touch. You just don’t hear that anymore.. its golden!
What guitar player from my generation does not know that riff and that solo note for note?
Then all the great Bad Co music and all he has done.. hard to pick a favorite!
Paul has put gold into every thing he has ever done ( as did all the players on those classic records)
When you hear the opening vocal line to the song ‘Bad Company’.. its goosebumps EVERY time. Never gets old !!
None of his/their music does and Paul’s voice has never lost a step.
From: Lionel Conway
Subject: Re: Paul Rodgers-This Week’s Podcast
Bob. I’m glad you have some recognition out to Mick Ralph’s. I was working with Chris Blackwell running island music back in early 60s , I had two bands Free and Mott the Hoople. The latter was all about Ian Hunter. He was the band. Mick was very frustrated and after several years decided he wanted out. He came to see me and said he had a couple of songs that he had written. But Ian wasn’t interested. So he wanted to demo them and use them for either his own thing or another band. He played them for me and I was floored, he had languished for years without any recognition with Mott and from that demo session that I helped facilitate , out came. two iconic Rock standards. ” feel like making love ” and ‘ I can’t get enough of your loving “. Kudos to paul Rogers for his great performance on both ,but Micks songs made the band.
Re: Paul Rodgers
I’m through the Free bit and I am little bummed that you didn’t spend more time on that:
1. Paul mentioned being in a band with Bruce Thomas and I believe Micky Moody. Moody is/was one of England’s finest slide blues players. A charter member of the original Whitesnake, he, Coverdale and Bernie Marsden wrote Fool for your Lovin (recorded 2x) 2. More on Andy Fraser…he was 15 when he joined Free. Besides co-writing All Right now, he also co-wrote The Stealer and My Brother Jake 3. The final Free tour…the Heartbreaker record.. with Wishing Well…more on that would have been nice as well as the decision to use Del Richardson from Osibisa as the lead guitar on the tour. And bonus info is that Snuffy Walden played on the record. Look up his IMBD.
The Bad Co stuff…well…I would have like to hear more about the Swansong/Peter Grant stuff. I was part of meetings with LZ which discussed Swansong…
Re: Paul Rodgers
In the 90’s I was fortunate to record with Paul Rodgers for a few days and learned one of the more valuable lessons of my recording career.
He was on tour and in Indianapolis and needed a place to record. I can’t remember who the drummer and bassist were but Neal Schon was playing guitar. Neal was so much fun.
Obviously, I was so excited about getting to record one of the great voices in rock history and one of rock’s great guitarists too.
For Paul’s vocal I set up my most expensive mic, one worth thousands of dollars that everyone loves and sounds great on almost every voice.
Paul sang through the song once and came into the control room. After listening all the way through the song he said “It sounds quite nice but I’d fancy 57. It’s what we used on all of the Bad Company records”
A $100 Shure Sm57! I was in shock!
So I set up the Sm57 and when he starts to sing there it is … the voice I’ve heard my whole life.
It was a great lesson … the most expensive tool that you have is not always the right one. Every recording session since then its always in the back of my mind.
The second lesson was that he didn’t just ask for the Sm57. He was open to a little experimentation … the mark of a great artist.
I regularly meet with recording students from several colleges and recording schools as well as working with a lot of young bands … this story is one I never fail to tell.
Paul was such a gentleman and a pleasure to work with. I was also fortunate to mix a couple of live radio broadcasts on the Bob and Tom Show with Paul and Bad Company and as a solo act … always the Sm57.