Paul Rodgers is a blues rock legend who has fronted three successful rock bands over the past five decades. From the hard rocking blues of “Free” to the burning blues rock of Bad Company and his collaboration with Jimmy Page for the Firm, Rodgers’ voice has been indelibly etched into the psyche of his audience. Rolling Stone magazine named Rodgers one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. He’s released 30 albums and sold over 90 million. Over the decades he’s performed with top performers like Jeff Beck, Joe Walsh, Buddy Guy, Slash and many others.
This album does its best to satisfy hardcore Bad Company fans. Rodgers was well rested after not having toured or performed for an extended period. The way that the album evolved, Paul was home playing around on an acoustic guitar and wanted to meet with other musicians and play together not intending to make an album. The band was chosen after he called Todd Ronning, the bass player in his solo band, about a demo tape he sent him. The demo was of a song that would become “Living it Up” on the album. Ronning wanted Rodgers to provide lyrics which Paul agreed to and inquired about the band used for the demo.
They met at “Roper Recording” and “The Warehouse” in the Okanagan and Vancouver areas of British Columbia, Canada to record what became Midnight Rose. The band assembled by Ronning consisted of “Living it Up” co-writer and drummer Rick Fedyk, Organist Chris Gestrin and guitarists Ray Roper and Keith Scott (Bryan Adams lead guitar). Production was by Bob Rock and Cynthia Rodgers plus Randy Staub who mixed it. It will be released on the historic “Sun Records” label on September 22, 2023. It’s Paul Rodgers’ first solo studio release of new material in nearly 25 years and seven of the eight songs were written by Rodgers.
“Coming Home” is a blistering bluesy rocker that demonstrated that Rodgers still has the ability to produce great material after years of playing his greatest hits. It was a great opportunity to get inspiration from a screaming electric guitar. The song opens with drums laying down a throbbing beat followed by wailing guitar peals as Rodgers belts out vocals, “Coming home again my love, coming home again.”
“Photo Shooter” opens with a driving guitar and keeps a high level of intensity. Rodgers explained that the song was to be the theme of a TV show that he dreamed up where the main star was a photographer. Writers could put them in any situation anywhere under different circumstances whether in the gangster underworld or the world of fashion. “Midnight Rose” is the title track which is an acoustic number with a mandolin sounding introduction before Rodgers’ voice glides in. The song reflects the turmoil that exists in our world at this time, yet is meant to be interpreted any way that the listener chooses. Rodgers said that he was thinking about the lonely people in the world who with a change of environment would flower. It’s a very simple message. The story started on bottleneck guitar.
As already mentioned “Living it Up” was co-written by Rick Fedyk, Todd Ronning and Rodgers. It provides a platform that Rodgers’ voice could propel itself from to wail alongside the driving rhythm that explodes with screaming guitar peals. It’s a great release for everyone at the time after the stagnation from the previous year. “Dance in the Sun” is a light frolicking number that opens with an acoustic Flamenco sounding guitar. Rodgers’ voice sounds joyously relaxed.
“Take Love” is a head on rock and roll assault that has been described as “the anthem of the rock and roll church.” It’s a feel good guitar driven track riding the “Bad Company” rail with classic rock in the 21st century using a call and response chorus that drives it to the end. “Highway Robber” is a mesmerizing track with a story that unfolds into a tale about a settler who becomes an outlaw due to circumstances. After trying to make it work and failing he becomes an outlaw like in some of the early Hollywood western films. The echoing guitar almost sounds Celtic with its clanging rhythm. “Melting” is an “old school” Mississippi blues that begins acoustically and reaches the “Crossroads” where the sound becomes ascending electric with Rodgers ascending voice singing , “I can hear the angels singing.”
Midnight Rose is a totally satisfying set of eight rocking songs that demonstrate why Paul Rodgers is considered one of the best singer/songwriter/frontmen of the rock & roll genre.
The Review 9.5/10
– Photo Shooter
– Midnight Rose
– Living it Up
– Take Love
– Highway Robber
The Big Hit
– Take Love
Buy the album: Amazon