Some time ago, I looked at the Bad Company and did a record review on the Paul Rodgers Era and the Robert Hart Era, overlooking with good reason the Brian Howe years which may rival the Paul Rodgers Era in terms of hits and they have a few with Holy Water, No Smoke Without Fire and How Bout That for starters. The problem has always been that Howe's Bad Company had more in common with Foreigner than Free and of course that goes all the way back to after the disaster that was Rough Diamonds, the worst album in the Paul Rodgers era, Bad Company decided to call it a day but I guess Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke got bored and wanted to rock out again, so after a while they settled on Howe, who sang on the God awful Ted Nugent Penatrator album.
The Foreigner moniker got stuck on them when Mick Jones co-produced the worst Bad Company album ever Fame And Fortune, which came out on Atlantic rather than Swan Song since Peter Grant and Led Zeppelin retired that label. Outside the failed title track as a hit single, the rest of the album was mush which Boz Burrell left soon afterwards. Moving from Mick Jones to Charlie's Terry Thomas, Bad Company found a reliable composer producer who could get the band back up in the charts with the right chords and the right cliche lyrics and chorus that can guarantee radio airplay back then. And Dangerous Age was much better sound wise and chart wise, getting a surprise top ten hit with No Smoke Without Fire and One Night. Hell they were actually more Foreigner sounding than the actual band. Certainly the title track and Shake It Up and Bad Man was fun stuff, more fun than Def Leppard so to speak And Mick Ralphs knew a good guitar lick and good rock formula to keep it going and Holy Water (1990) was a worthy followup with another top ten hit with Holy Water and watery ballad If You Needed Somebody but they were a step ahead of the hair spray metal wussies and Def Leppard as well. Boys Cry Tough and Walk Through Fire that perfect call and response when Bad Company played live. The nadir was the beginning of Simon Kirke adding his very own finale song and usually his was the most sappiest. 100 Miles and the cringefest My Only One on Here Comes Trouble is reasons why there are editing songs off the record.
But it was too good to last and by 1992's Here Comes Trouble, the Terry Thomas/Bad Company's formula was wearing mighty thin and despite another top 30 hit with How Bout That and rock the arena songs Take This Town and Here Comes Trouble the rest of album is too recycled cliche for even the most advent of fan to really give a shit, although it is a hair up on Fame And Fortune mind you. The Brian Howe era ends with the live What You Hear Is What You Get, not exactly a throwaway live album as the folks at All Music would led you to believe. Certainly ya gotta credit Howe for giving it all on the Rodgers' compositions and I actually enjoyed his version of Feel Like Making Love although Howe does mess up the words big time on Good Lovin Gone Bad. Worth finding for a dollar at the local pawnshop if you do come across it.
I have good memories of Bad Company when they played at the Five Seasons Center around 1990 when they opened for Damn Yankees. Howe was in fine vocal form and even had ole Simon Kirke take a gander my way and gave me a big wave.
Although the Howe era Bad Company had their hits, a big following out happened and Howe left the band in favor of Robert Hart who returned Bad Company to more of blues rock for two albums before Boz Burrell and Paul Rodgers returned in 1998 with four so so new recordings tacked on the 2 cd Bad Company Anthology that Elektra (!) issued. With the return of Paul Rodgers, any indication of the Brian Howe songs were left in the past. Howe issued Circus Bar in 2010.
Like the majority of y'all out there, I didn't think much of Howe and Bad Company back then but this year while rediscovering his output with Bad Company that he could hold his own vocalwise and he can lay claim that most if not all his albums were much better than Rough Diamonds, with the exception of Fame & Forture which remains the pits. But it's funny how while he was a dead ringer for Lou Grimm that Mick Jones never bothered to ask him to sing on Foreigner. Howe can be sometimes found on the Casino rock circuit. Heck of a nice guy I've heard.
The Brian Howe Bad Company Albums:
Fame And Fortune (Atlantic 1986 reissued via Wounded Bird, Out Of Print) D+
Dangerous Age (Atlantic 1988) B+
Holy Water (Atco 1990) B+
Here Comes Trouble (Atco 1992, reissued via Wounded Bird) C
What You Hear Is What You Get (Atco 1993) C+