40 Years Ago: Bad Company Release Their Third Album, ‘Run With the Pack’
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Bad Company‘s first two albums cracked the Top 5 on both sides of the Atlantic. With their third, 1976’s Run with the Pack, they tried to pull off the impressive feat of delivering a trio of multi-platinum hits in the span of just three years.
Run With the Pack arrived during a hectic period that found the band touring the world while dashing off a growing list of hit singles that included “Can’t Get Enough,” “Movin’ On,” “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” and “Feel Like Makin’ Love.” Even with the group’s pedigree — Bad Company brought together ex-Free singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke with former Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs and ex-King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell — it was getting harder to sustain the punishing pace.
While continuing to push forward with touring and recording commitments, Bad Company became the target of slings and arrows from critics who felt that their groove-based brand of boogie rock had already settled into a rut. Though it would be fair to argue that the critics were missing the point — the band’s sound wasn’t supposed to be more than a powerful blend of basic elements — after two albums of big riffs, big beats and big vocals, they seemed eager to expand their palette with Run With the Pack.
“We’ve expanded the initial ideas and we’re showing people that we’re not just a chord-bashing rock and roll band. We’re capable of more musical things but sometimes we don’t get credit for our subtlety,” argued Ralphs. “I don’t want to keep sounding egotistical, but we believe in this band, every one of us, and it’s all we’ll ever want to do. It’s not like a stepping stone for something else. I can honestly say that none of us will ever want to get involved with any other group situation.”
Sadly for fans, Ralphs’ prediction would eventually be proven false, but at the time, it was hard to argue with him. Run With the Pack brought Bad Company back to the Top 5 in the U.S. and U.K. while going triple platinum in the States and spinning off a pair of successful singles: a cover of the Leiber and Stoller classic “Young Blood” that hit No. 20, and the No. 47 “Honey Child.” By the summer, they were already back in the studio working on their next album, which would arrive in the spring of 1977.
Trouble, however, was on the horizon. A planned co-headlining tour that would have reunited Rodgers and Kirke with former Free guitarist Paul Kossoff had to be suddenly scrapped in the wake of Kossoff’s drug-related death — just the first of several fatalities that would loom over Bad Company’s inner circle over the next several years. Meanwhile, as physical and creative exhaustion set in among the band members, changing trends left their blue-collar approach to rock increasingly in the mainstream margins. Though this lineup would notch a few more hits and continue to record through the early ’80s, a slowdown after Run With the Pack was inevitable.
“Suddenly the little clouds started looming. We just didn’t have our family base. I still think Run With The Pack was a great album, but I think after that the pace started to get to us,” suggested Kirke years later. “We were tired, we were shiftless, we needed a break. Four years at that pace was like eight at any other pace.”
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