Newcastle 1974 (Wardour 070)
Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle, UK – March 8, 1974
(56:21) Little Miss Fortune, Rock Steady, Ready For Love, Don’t Let Me Down, Easy On My Soul, Bad Company, Deal With The Preacher, Movin’ On, Can’t Get Enough, Stealer, Rock Me Baby
Newcastle 1974 is the first Bad Company title from the Wardour label and features a good sounding but slightly incomplete soundboard recording from early in the band’s career. Their debut album wasn’t released until June 1974 so it’s safe to say that people were hearing this music for the first time. It’s got a pretty even mix between the instruments while the lead and backing vocals, sounding very strong, are also prominent in the recording.
Under Peter Grant’s management, Bad Company was one of the first bands signed to Led Zeppelin’s record label, Swan Song, and consisted of former members of Free, Mott The Hoople, and King Crimson. The band had a real soulful rock and roll sound and even more so live. This show from Newcastle was the band’s formal debut and their performance has a certain nervousness in the atmosphere that quickly passes.
The tape fades in during “Little Miss Fortune” missing the first few minutes and right away shows the strength in the band’s backing vocals. They stumble a bit in the intro to “Rock Steady” but soon settle in. Paul Rodgers’ vocal performance in “Ready For Love” is even more expressive than the studio version and the track features a guitar solo in place of the piano melody. Electric piano is featured in “Don’t Let Me Down”, giving the track that nice warm soulful sound that was captured on the LP.
“Easy On My Soul” is a funky little number dating back to Free and later re-recorded by Bad Company during the debut LP sessions and was included as a b-side to “Movin On”. The band does a great job with the dynamics in “Bad Company” and is surprisingly one of the best sounding tracks in the set. The track has a bit of a heavier feel live and is nicely done. Paul Rodgers really loosens up during “Deal With The Preacher” and once again shines in his vocal performance.
By “Movin’ On” some tape warble is noticeable that lasts for the rest of the recording but is tolerable. The harmony guitar solo in “Can’t Get Enough” perfectly replicates the studio recording while Rodgers takes the outro solos himself. “Stealer” is also included from Paul Rogers and Simon Kirk’s former band, Free, before they finish with a cover of B.B. King’s “Rock Me Baby”, one of the most recorded blues songs of all time.
Wardour released an excellent looking title that is packaged in a single jewel case. It is very nice to see the label including Bad Company in their catalog and Newcastle 1974 makes a great start for what I hope will bring more classic Bad Company to silver.