Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Paul Rodgers-This Week’s Podcast | Lefsetz Letter



That’s right, this week’s podcast guest is the voice, vocalist extraordinaire, PAUL RODGERS!

I remember distinctly driving in my mom’s Country Squire on the way to the Yale Bowl for a Herman’s Hermits-headed revival concert (the following week it was Led Zeppelin!) and hearing the mellifluous sound of this track emanating from the dashboard, some cuts you only need to hear once to get, to love, to have them seared into your brain. And as great as Paul’s vocal is, the secret ingredient is Paul Kossoff’s guitar-playing, an axeman Paul considers to be the best ever, and Rodgers has worked with Jimmy Page and…

And while I was ensconced at Middlebury I sent away for a free A&M sampler album entitled “Friends” that contained the Free cut “I’ll Be Creepin’.” You should check it out on the above-linked playlist, it’ll get under your skin, especially when Paul croons “I’ll hold you in my arms/Like nobody else,” you’ll swoon. Be sure to check out the rest of the Free tracks included, most were not hits, certainly not in the U.S., but hopefully they’re the blueprint for a resurgent blues-rock sound in the United States, there’s genius here.

And then…

We couldn’t get enough of their love.

Mick Ralphs? He was overshadowed by Ian Hunter in Mott The Hoople, wasn’t he just a sideman? Turns out, anything but. That track jumped out of radios across America in the summer of ’74, just after I graduated from college, but my favorite cut from the initial LP is the title tune, and I love “Seagull” almost as much, Paul talks about both of them here, as well as having the band’s name first.

And as big as that initial Bad Company album was, the second, STRAIGHT SHOOTER, was even BIGGER! This is the one containing the monster, “Feel Like Makin’ Love.”

Baby, when I think about you
I think about love

And then comes the staccato of that machine-gun guitar and…FEEL LIKE MAKIN’ LOVE…FEEL LIKE MAKIN’ LOVE… FEEL LIKE MAKIN’ LOVE…FEEL LIKE MAKIN’ LOVE TO YOU!

And the follow-up album, “Run With The Pack,” opens with the anthem “Live For The Music,” that’s my theme song…

Some people say I’m a-no good
Layin’ in my bed all day
But when the nighttime comes I’m ready to rock
And roll my troubles away

And right after that…


Freedom is the only thing that means a damn to me

Ain’t that the truth. I’m a square peg in a round hole, I don’t fit in, the only place I feel comfortable is in the grasp of a record, which understands me. I hear “Simple Man” and I picture myself atop a mountain, viewing the vast landscape, feeling peaceful and powerful, this is the Bad Company song I sing to myself most.

And Bad Company went on to have more hits. Paul ultimately worked with Jimmy Page, Kenney Jones, Queen and so many more. And despite being ignored by the cognoscenti, he resides in the heart of every dyed-in-the-wool rock fan, talk about being unjustly excluded from the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, that ridiculous institution, Paul Rodgers and his bands are the EPITOME of rock and roll, and if you’re a listener, you know it.

So sitting down with Paul was a great thrill. Because he’s still got it, his intellect and his voice and…listen to him croon herein. Hell, the Bad Company show at the L.A. County Fair is the best one I’ve seen this decade, the one I enjoyed most, the one that got me out of my brain, that tore away my everyday problems, that had me thrusting my arm in the air believing that music was enough to base an existence upon, that I’d won at this game called life.

That’s the power of music.

That’s the power of rock and roll.


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