Three years is a long time between albums, but Bad Company’s Rough Diamonds — their first LP since 1979’s Desolation Angels — only makes one wish the band had stayed away even longer. Next to such mid-Seventies scorchers as “Can’t Get Enough” and “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad,” the witless, Free-style blues-rock shuffles and bloodless boogie tunes that make up this LP are embarrassing.
There are a few uncut gems here. “Electricland” actually opens the album on a promising note, with Simon Kirke’s tight drum trot pushing up against the song’s dark mood and Paul Rodgers’ chilling coyote howl. And “Cross Country Boy” sounds absolutely energetic, sandwiched as it is between an antique Chuck Berry stroll (bassist Boz Burrell’s “Ballad of the Band”) and a sluggish country-blues travelogue (guitarist Mick Ralphs’ “Old Mexico”).
But whereas Bad Company used to reinvest Sixties electric Anglo-blues clichés with energy and conviction, Rough Diamonds simply finds the group underlining those clichés in dull funk outings (“Untie the Knot”) and lame blues (“Nuthin’ on the TV”). In fact, the only cutting thing about this album is the cover’s serrated edge.