There’s a particular scene in the award-winning 2000 Cameron Crowe film, Almost Famous. In that playful scene, “band aid,” Estrella Starr (played by Bijou Phillips) peers out the window of a hotel room and announces (excitedly) to her frolicking female companions, “Simon Kirke from Bad Company is by the pool!” Not only did the band’s co-founding drummer get a nod with that memorable quote, but the film’s fictional group, Stillwater, also bared a strikingly close stylistic resemblance to Bad Company — and for good reason. Straight out the gate, Bad Company achieved global notoriety as a supergroup, comprised of Mott the Hoople, Free and King Crimson alumni. And at the time the motion picture’s storyline would have taken place during the early to mid-‘70s, Bad Company was revving up as one of the biggest bands in the world.
Birthing such FM staples as “Bad Company,” “Can’t Get Enough,” “Movin’ On,” “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad,” “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and “Shooting Star,” the first two Bad Company LPs, Bad Company (1974) and Straight Shooter (1975) were stylistic companion records, and both enjoyed Top Ten, multi-platinum success. But with album #3, Bad Company stepped a smidge outside the “zone.” Arriving in stores worldwide 45 years ago today (February 21, 1976), Run with the Pack also was a chart-busting million-seller.
As if wrapped by Reynolds, the shiny silver packaging was eye-catching — the front cover image of papa wolf watching on as mama wolf nurses her pups. The inner gatefold photo depicted the band members holed up in a tiny apartment, surrounded by booze bottles, with a Bugs Bunny cartoon playing on the TV. Musically, the self-produced ten-song set oozed the signature Bad Company mystique. Down and dirty, sweet and soulful, bluesy and beautiful, each track is a bullet point highlight.
The record kicks off in fine fashion with a pair of tunes penned by co-founding guitarist, Mick Ralphs — the gritty and chunky, “Live for the Music,” coupled with “Simple Man” — a powerful track that smacks of such previous B.C. classics as “Bad Company” and “Feel Like Making Love.” Owning the notable line, “Freedom is the only thing that means a damn to me,” the song is polished by a convincing performance from co-founding frontman, Paul Rodgers, and accented by Ralph’s seemingly Neil Young-inspired guitar work.
Bursting with bona fide cock-rock swagger, “Honey Child” is brought to life by the punchy, defibrillator-like basslines of the late Boz Burrell. This one, when placed next to Rodgers’ slow and sultry, gospel-tinged heartbreak ballad, “Somebody Love Me,” makes for another magical yin and yang scenario.
Orchestrated magnificently, the piano-driven, riff-heavy title track was one of the record’s mightiest moments. But, it can be argued that the shiniest gemstone of this musical treasure trove is Rodgers’ masterpiece breakup ballad, “Silver, Blue and Gold.” The lyrics — engaging. The melody — enchanting. In fact, it could be said that if Run with the Pack housed only ONE single track, this should be the one. C’mon, everybody, let’s sing along — Give me silver, blue and gold. The colour of the sky I’m told. My ray-ay-ain-bow is overdue.
Crashing Casey’s Countdown in the spring of ‘76, the sexy-sounding remake of the 1957 boogie woogie Coasters classic, “Young Blood,” got MY young blood pumping — it still does. Conversely, in a similar stylistic fashion as “Seagull” (Bad Company, 1974), Rodgers’ “Do Right by Your Woman” is a marvelous, mid-tempo keeper.
While Run with the Pack still tastes fresh musically, at times, it smells as if its shelf life expired, back in the dark ages. Ralph’s turbo-charged “Sweet Little Sister” celebrated and glorified the band’s (now dated) sex, drugs & rock and roll lifestyle — Sweet little sister, you know you can’t resist her. She got it made in the shade, Lord yeah. Sweet little sister, your mama never missed her, ‘til she got laid, laid, laid, alright. Wow, even for an old rocker guy like me, it’s tough to imagine in today’s enlightened culture, that there ever was a time when that type of mentality was considered cool. However, Rodgers’ brooding “Fade Away” still holds up and provides a bluesy and effective closing punctuation point.
To this day, the impressive Bad Company catalogue remains iconic. And 45 years later, Run with the Pack still sparkles as one of the band’s grandest achievements.
Run with the Pack Track Listing:
1. Live for the Music (3:58)
2. Simple Man (3:37)
3. Honey Child (3:15)
4. Love Me Somebody (3:09)
5. Run with the Pack (5:21)
1. Silver, Blue & Gold (5:03)
2. Young Blood (2:37)
3. Do Right by Your Woman (2:51)
4. Sweet Lil’ Sister (3:29)
5. Fade Away (2:54)
Run Time: 36:14
Release Date: February 21, 1976
Record Label: Swan Song Records