It’s cool and overcast in Mick Ralphs’ English hometown. But no matter, the Bad Company guitarist is lounging outside his home in toasty Sarasota, Fla., with a glass of iced tea.
Ah, this is the life.
“I love it down here, it’s beautiful,” Ralphs said recently. “But there’s no chance of ever seeing me in a leisure suit, balding, and going to Red Lobster for an early-bird dinner.
“I don’t see myself really retiring, but I could certainly live with living here and hanging out on the beach all day.”
For now, there’s too much work to be done for Bad Company to even consider retreating. The British rock quintet’s 11th studio album, “Company of Strangers” (on EastWest / Elektra), will be released June 6, preceding the single “Down & Dirty.” A two-month tour with Ted Nugent opened last week and offers Bad Company fans a first glimpse of new lead singer Robert Hart (formerly of Bernard Edwards’ group The Distance).
Those who think Bad Company isn’t “real” Bad Company without original vocalist Paul Rodgers might reconsider after hearing “Company of Strangers.” Hart could pass for Rodgers’ vocal twin.
“We’ve been wanting to work with Robert for years,” Ralphs said. “We just couldn’t get it worked out before, because he had commitments and such. The first time I ever heard his voice, I was knocked out. A few years ago, we used a live multitrack of a show we did in the States and took down (former singer) Brian Howe’s vocals. We had Robert sing in the studio for the rest of the track, and we knew immediately he had the sound we were looking for all along.”
Ralphs admits that Bad Company strayed off its blues-rock course in 1992 with its last album, “Here Comes Trouble.” He said Hart is the final piece that’s been missing in the puzzle since the mid-’80s when Rodgers left the group after six million-selling albums.
“You can’t count out Bad Company, ever,” Ralphs said. “Most groups would have broken up over some of the things that have happened to us over the years, but now it’s reached the point to where I think we’re back on track to what we were doing in the ’70s, with our first album (‘Bad Company’) and ‘Run With the Pack.’
“(Original drummer) Simon (Kirke) and I wanted to get back to our classic sound, and I think we’ve achieved that now. It’s made everything in between worthwhile.”
BWF (before we forget): The Bad Company album discography – “Bad Company” (1974, Swan Song); “Straight Shooter” (1975); “Run With the Pack” (1976); “Burnin’ Sky” (1977); “Desolation Angels” (1979); “Rough Diamonds” (1982); “10 From 6” (1986, Atlantic); “Fame and Fortune” (1986); “Dangerous Age” (1988); “Holy Water” (1990, Atco); “Here Comes Trouble” (1992); “The Best of Bad Company Live … What You Hear Is What You Get” (1993, EastWest); “Company of Strangers” (1995).