One would think that the combination of Bad Company's Paul Rodgers and Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page would make for some pretty damn good music. And one would be at least partially correct.
When The Firm was on, they were firing on all cylinders, Page's guitar making an excellent complement to Rodgers vocals, Chris Slade's drumming, and Tony Franklin's bass playing.
However their music was also somewhat uneven. There are a handful of tracks on here that feature some of Paul Rodgers best vocals since Bad Company's Straight Shooter album, but on some of those tracks one is left wondering where is Jimmy Page? Reading the newspaper perhaps? Doing the NY Times crossword puzzle? When you have a guitarist the calibre of Jimmy Page in your band, isn't it best to take full advantage of his talents?
Instead, much of this album comes across as "Paul Rodgers with special guests Jimmy Page, Chris Slade, and Tony Franklin" not as one cohesive band.
That being said, being a fan of the vocal prowess of Paul Rodgers, this is some of his best work and the tracks where Page does shine-- tracks like Radioactive, Make or Break, Midnight Moonlight, Cadillac, and Free to Live-- the whole band shines. It's these tracks that make the album well worth it and show the potential this band had, had they consistently performed as a group, instead of playing like Paul Rodgers backing band.
And while Rodgers sounds pretty damn good covering The Righteous Brothers, You've Lost that Lovin Feelin' one can't help but notice how incredibly out of place the song sounds in the context of the album as a whole.
In short it's a valiant effort, well worth it for its strong tracks, but it just falls short. And any band that has Jimmy Page as a member-- well most would expect that band to actually make far more and far better use of his talents than The Firm did.
Queen with Paul Rodgers Return of the Champions (2005)