Burnin' Sky

Bad Company

Swan Song Records, 1977


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


After three successful albums and a couple of hit singles, who would have expected that Bad Company's fourth album Burnin' Sky would be a relative mystery to all but the faithful fans?

After achieving success with songs like "Can't Get Enough," "Feel Like Makin' Love" and "Run With The Pack," it is kind of surprising that this 1977 release didn't spawn any major hits. Maybe the record-buying public saw something the rest of civilization didn't - that this was simply an average effort from Paul Rodgers and crew.

The title track is probably the best-known cut, having received more airplay as over 20 years have passed since its release. Anchored with a funky beat provided by bassist Boz Burrell and drummer Simon Kirke, Rodgers provides a powerful lead vocal while guitarist Mick Ralphs throws in some decent fills off his Les Paul. If any song off my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Burnin' Sky could have been a hit, this is the one I would have selected.

Actually, the immediate followup, "Morning Sun," is the better of the two tracks (featuring some tasty 12-string acoustic work from Ralphs), but to the AM market of the time, such a song might have been seen as too slow to be a hit. Pity... it's a beautiful song that I have yet to tire of.

Unfortunately, this is where the top-notch material on Burnin' Sky ends. Most of the remainder of the album, while not atrocious, just doesn't do anything special for the band. It's almost as if they locked themselves into a pattern somewhere around the time of Straight Shooter and never deviated much from the musical formula. You can find the more ballsy work like "Heartbeat" sounding a lot like older Bad Company songs ("Sweet Little Sister" comes to mind), while the slower rockers like "Leaving You" and "Passing Time" could well have been tracks left over from the Run With The Pack sessions.

Only one major mistake is committed on Burnin' Sky - the experimental track "Master Of Ceremonies," which is incredibly painful to listen to. Rodgers's attempt to do a hiccup-like vocal grates on the listener's eardrums like a potato on a Super Slicer. This is a track that should never have seen the light of day, and should be avoided at all costs.

The biggest problem with Burnin' Sky is that it sounds like it's a very tentative album. It's almost as if Bad Company didn't know which direction they wanted to take their music in, so they played the safer, middle ground. The end result is a very sterile album with a few moments of the old brilliance that this band had in their earlier days.

Is Burnin' Sky worth picking up? This is one of the few times where I honestly can't say "yes" or "no" definitively. This is an album that is very much a roll of the dice for whomever decided to buy it - and whether you'll like it or not is about as definite as finding matching snowflakes. If you're looking for the hit singles, you may wish to pass on it, but if you liked their older work, then it might be worth picking this one up.

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 Swan Song Records, and is used for informational purposes only.