81628-4-E Mean Business
Produced by Jimmy Page, Paul Rodgers and Julian Mendelsohn
Released on February 1986
US CHART POSITION #22 . . . UK CHART POSITION #46
Find it at GEMM
81628-4-E cover  

I t was mean business then The Firm collapsed, another example of an arena-rock supergroup that ultimately rejected its new organs. Shame, since they were really better than most gave them credit for. I missed their debut (when buying stuff, I follow fortune) but was surprised to find their second album stays true to the promise of a marriage between Led Zeppelin and Bad Company. No, Paul Rodgers doesn’t burn the way Robert Plant does, and Jimmy Page’s guitar riffs don’t fall like black sheets of rain out of a troubled sky, but The Firm does suggest what BadCo would have sounded like in a serious mood. In fact, Mean Business could be seen as BadCo on an epic scale. Like John Wetton, Rodgers has his lyric eye on bigger issues, summoning the last wave on “Spirit of Love” and “Live In Peace” or feeding the unquenchable fire on “All The Kings Horses.” The singer is clearly the lead force here, with Jimmy delivering a few Pageworthy riffs but otherwise invisible save for the sleepy exoticism of “Cadillac” and “Free To Live.” Tony Franklin also contributes one track, “Dreaming,” which further frees Page from the troublesome task of writing songs. I suspect that those disappointed with Mean Business had pinned their hopes for a Zeppelin lovechild on The Firm, which is shaky reasoning. Robert Plant’s music better delivers on that promise, whereas three quarters of The Firm weren’t responsible for (or likely interested in) keeping Zeppelin’s dim flame alive. Approaching their music from the BadCo angle proves to be their better side, a vantage point from which The Firm’s stature is elevated. Mean Business lacks the instrumental chops of Asia’s debut, but it’s not the sophomore slump that Alpha was either. Put aside squinting for Zeppelin’s shadow and you just might develop a soft spot for The Firm’s last stand.

TRACK LISTING

  1. FORTUNE HUNTER    (Jimmy Page/Paul Rodgers)    5:00
  2. CADILLAC    (Jimmy Page/Paul Rodgers)    5:57
  3. ALL THE KINGS HORSES    (Paul Rodgers)    3:16
  4. LIVE IN PEACE    (Paul Rodgers)    5:05
  5. TEAR DOWN THE WALLS    (Jimmy Page/Paul Rodgers)    4:43
  6. DREAMING    (Tony Franklin)    6:00
  7. FREE TO LIVE    (Jimmy Page/Paul Rodgers)    4:13
  8. SPIRIT OF LOVE    (Paul Rodgers)    5:06

CREDITS

TONY FRANKLIN -- bass
JIMMY PAGE -- guitars
PAUL RODGERS -- vocals
CHRIS SLADE -- drums
Aubrey Powell Productions -- cover design

return to THE FIRM discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US February 1986 Atlantic LP/CD/CS 81628 picture sleeve
UK/CAN/GER February 1986 Atlantic LP/CD/CS 781 628 picture sleeve
MEX 1986 Atlantic LP LWA-6483 picture sleeve

 

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