Holy Water

Bad Company

Atco Records, 1990


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It sometimes is difficult to watch a band that was huge in the '70s struggle through into their second and third decades. The longtime fans will pooh-pooh any attempt the band in question makes to try and update their sound, while the younger generation would ridicule any throwback to the older days as signs of being a "dinosaur".

Such was the fate of Bad Company in 1990. Holy Water, their third album since reuniting, tries to recapture some of the band's early glories while moving towards popular rock. The end result is kind of a successful failure.

Let's face one fact head on: lead singer Brian Howe would never live up to the older fans' expectations, and would never adequately replace Paul Rodgers. And in one sense, Howe doesn't try to do so; instead, he had spent all his time to this point trying to carve out his own niche with Bad Company - which by now only had two original members, guitarist Mick Ralphs and drummer Simon Kirke.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Ah, but the younger generation was starting to win control, having turned "No Smoke Without A Fire" off Dangerous Age into Bad Company's first hit since "Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy" in 1979. So, Holy Water was the album created to satisfy a demand.

And in retrospect, you really can't knock the hit single "If You Needed Somebody," a song which is still an addictive track eight years after this album first hit the bins. The acoustic guitars building into the powerful chorus work well here, and Howe's voice is perfectly suited for the occasion. The follow-up single "Walk Through Fire" has not held its mettle as well with the passage of time, and is now a passable track.

But the hidden treasure on Holy Water is "Boys Cry Tough," a song about love which is lost in a tragic way and the other person's attempt to come to grips with the facts. Again, it is Howe's vocals which create the magic this track has. Why this one wasn't released to radio I'll never understand.

Kirke even takes a turn on the microphone and the six-string on the album's closer "100 Miles"... and he does one hell of an impressive job. The only negative is that this track is under two minutes in length; I wouldn't have minded having this one stretch out a little longer.

Unfortunately, this is where the praise stops for Holy Water. The remainder of the album is formulated cookie-cutter AOR that will satisfy neither older nor younger generation. The title track fails to go anywhere, and is not the ideal way to kick off the album. "Fearless" is an example of what happens when an attempt to write a hit single goes horribly wrong, while "Stranger Stranger" is a somewhat better effort.

The true tragedy of Holy Water is that many of these tracks could probably have been somewhat decent, but the energy level of this album is next to nil. The band truly sounds like they're going through the motions on most of the disc - and if the band sounds bored, you can bet the listener will be.

Holy Water could have been a much better album, one that could have bridged the gap between two generations of Bad Company fans. Unfortunately, you can't build a bridge with only two or three good songs, you need a solid album - and this ain't the one.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atco Records, and is used for informational purposes only.