[1 November 2011]
From his time as the lead singer of Free and Bad Company, to his most recent stint as the frontman for the ill-considered Queen + Paul Rodgers project, Paul Rodgers has always been unassailable as a singer. His smoky, bluesy voice hasn’t lost one iota of power or dexterity since the early ‘70s and he remains, even over 60, an engaging and lively performer. Unfortunately, for all his talent, he’s never been a particularly inventive songwriter, even with such talented collaborators as Paul Kossoff (Free), Mick Ralphs (Bad Company) and Jimmy Page (the Firm).
Live at Montreux 1994, recorded at the legendary jazz festival, demonstrates that Rodgers has some solid songs in his catalog but doesn’t really have much imagination in how to arrange them. Even with an army of skilled accompanists, including Queen guitarist Brian May, Journey guitarist Neal Schon, and Toto bassist Steve Lukather, Rodgers simply delivers perfunctory recitations of his biggest hits, such as “All Right Now” and “Feel Like Making Love”. There are also some obligatory blues covers, this is the Montreux Jazz Festival, after all, and while May’s ringing guitar does give an added dimension to “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”, for the most part these renditions add little or nothing to the originals. Essentially, this set is dispensable unless you’re a completist of the artists involved. Even then, you probably won’t play it much.