Saturday, March 17, 2012

Free - Live! (1971)

(U.K 1968–1971, 1972–1973)
Free was an English rock band, formed in London in 1968 and had a somewhat turbulent history. Their best-known line-up was founder Rodgers (b.Middlesbrough, Dec 12, 1949), Kirke (b. Chelsea, London, July 28, 1948) and Kossoff (b. Hampstead, London, Sept 14, 1950 - d. Mar 19, 1976).
Kirke and Kossoff were playing together in a blues group, Black Cat Bones, when they saw Rodgers singing with the outfit Brown Sugar in a North London pub, The Fickle Pickle.
The three assembled their new band with the addition of Andy Fraser, 16-year old bass player from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers.
While still in their embryonic stage, they came to the attention of Alexis Korner, one of' 'founding fathers" of British blues, who suggested the name "Free", introduced them to Island Records boss Chris Blackwell (who wanted to call them The Heavy Metal Kids), provided early musical 'coaching', and even arranged group's debut gig in spring 1968.
Though the subject of some initial criticism - they were dubbed as ersatz Cream in certain quarters of British rock press - the band established a strong club following within a year of formation, playing a mix of original material and blues standards.

.Early albums (first in 1969) were only moderately received by press and public alike, until in 1970 their original composition, "All Right Now", went to #1 in British singles lists, and into American Top 5 in autumn of that year. Free followed up with their next big hit "My Brother Jake".
In early 1971, however, for a variety of reasons never fully explained, one of them being possibly their immaturity, the band split — for the first time.
Each member pursued various, though largely unsuccessful projects. Rodgers and Fraser formed own bands, Peace and Toby respectively; Kirke and Kossoff recorded album (Kossoff Kirke Tetsu Rabbit - Island, 1971) with Texan keyboards player John "Rabbit" Bundrick and Japanese bassist Tetsu Yamauchi.
Then in early 1972, the band regrouped with their original lineup to cut a disappointing 'Free At Last', plus the hit single "A Little Bit Of Love", and for a reunion tour.
Fraser departed towards end of that year, however, and Tetsu and "Rabbit" - from a fore mentioned album - came in to make Free a five-piece for only a short period of time before Paul Kossoff, suffering from drug addiction, also quit. Nevertheless, Kossoff appears on parts of the final Free album 'Heart-breaker' (1973).
Wendell Richardson, then with Osibisa was brought in as a temporary replacement for Free's early 1973 American tour, after which Tetsu quit to join The Faces.
Free disintegrated for second and last time in late 1973, allowing Rodgers and Kirke to form instantly successful Bad Company. Original bassist Fraser subsequently led own eponymous Andy Fraser Band with relatively little commercial success [extract from The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock, by Nick Logan & Bob Woffinden, 1977 - p89)
Due to the publicity caused by their breakup, a live album was rush-released by Island Records to commemorate the band.
Recorded in 1970 and comprising of tracks drawn from their 1st four studio albums (Tons of Sobs, Free, Fire and Water, Highway), this is a brilliant and powerful live album from one of the great blues rock bands ever...'
A fitting live document to a magnificent band who were sadly short-lived. At the time, Free was on the verge of becoming extremely big, they just couldn’t see it. These live tracks capture this feeling very well indeed. I would give my paycheck to see these guys play live if only I could. Alas, Free Live! is the next best thing [review from Amazon]
This post consists of a rip (320kps) taken from my vinyl copy which I bought as a teenager and represented my first introduction to this legendary band. Full album artwork for both CD and vinyl is included along with label scans. I consider this album to be one of the few classics that have stood the test of time and it is still an integral part of my general playlist. Hope you enjoy it!
Track Listing
01 - All Right Now
02 - I'm A Mover
03 - Be My Friend
04 - Fire And Water

05 - Ride On Pony
06 - Mr Big
07 - The Hunter
08 - Get Where I Belong (Studio Track)

Free were:
Paul Rodgers (vocals)
Paul Kossoff (guitar)
Andy Fraser (bass)
Simon Kirke (drums)
Free Live Link (95Mb)  New Link 23/10/2015

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