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Free
Studio album by Free
Released October 1969
October 2001 (reissue)
Recorded January - June 1969
Genre Rock
Length 70:29 (2001 reissue)
Label Island
Producer Chris Blackwell
Professional reviews
Free chronology
Tons of Sobs
(1968)
Free
(1969)
Fire and Water
(1970)

Free is the second album of English rock group Free, recorded and released in 1969. The band had spent time touring after their debut album Tons of Sobs the previous year, and there is a marked difference in the musicianship of the band as well as Paul Rodgers's voice. Individual members of the band seem less inclined to show off their musicianship - there are few of Paul Kossoff's extended guitar solos that could be heard on some of the previous album's tracks such as "Goin' Down Slow." Whereas Tons of Sobs had been produced by Guy Stevens, Free was produced by the head of Island Records himself, Chris Blackwell.

Contents

Lineup

Recording

This album saw the burgeoning of the songwriting partnership between Paul Rodgers and bassist Andy Fraser, which had been glimpsed on Tons of Sobs with songs such as "I'm A Mover"; here, eight out of the nine tracks bear a Fraser/Rodgers credit. Possibly as a result of the sixteen year-old Fraser's influence as a songwriter the bass guitar is far more prominent here than on the previous album, and indeed is used more widely than most other bands' albums do. The instrument is used as a rhythm guitar, driving the songs, while Kossoff's lead guitar develops from it.

While Fraser and Rodgers made a strong writing partnership, tensions in the band increased as some felt that Fraser held the band in a stranglehold. Kossoff, whose natural spontaneity had been given free rein up to then, particularly resented being taught very specific rhythm guitar parts by Fraser. However, Blackwell managed to keep the band in line to record the album.

However, the album performed fairly poorly on release, only reaching number 22 in the UK charts and failing completely in America. The single releases, "Broad Daylight" and "I'll Be Creepin'", also failed. (Two songs from the album, "I'll Be Creepin'" and "Woman", would later be covered by the American rock band Three Dog Night.) It would not be until the release of "All Right Now" the following year that the band became truly successful.

Cover

The album is notable for having extremely innovative and impressive artwork from Ron Rafaelli of The Visual Thing Inc., which is featured in the book 100 Best Album Covers alongside better known examples such as Peter Blake's cover for the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Robert Crumb's artwork for Big Brother and the Holding Company's Cheap Thrills. The book was part compiled by Storm Thorgerson who had himself designed many famous album covers such as Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon.

Rafaelli made the cover by photographing his model with strobe lights to make a silhouette of her against a background, which he could then overlay the design on. Hence, the album has a striking design of a woman made of stars leaping across the sky. The band's name is printed in extremely small letters at the top of the cover; with CDs being much smaller than LPs, this is almost unreadable.

Track listing

(All tracks written by Fraser/Rodgers unless otherwise noted)

Original tracks

  1. "I'll Be Creepin'" 3.27
  2. "Songs of Yesterday" 3.33
  3. "Lying in the Sunshine" 3.51
  4. "Trouble on Double Time" (Fraser/Rodgers/Kirke/Kossoff) 3.23
  5. "Mouthful of Grass" 3.36
  6. "Woman" 3.50
  7. "Free Me" 5.24
  8. "Broad Daylight" 3.15
  9. "Mourning Sad Morning" 5.04

Extra tracks

  1. "Broad Daylight" 3.09
    • The version of the song that was released as a single, this is a slightly different edit and features prominent backing singers.
  2. "The Worm" 3.03
    • A funky rock song often compared to Cream's "Politician", this was the B-side to "Broad Daylight".
  3. "I'll Be Creeping" 2.47
    • This is the single version of the album track, with one verse edited out.
  4. "Sugar for Mr. Morrison" 3.01
    • The band's second instrumental track, this is a slow, bass-driven number that gradually builds into a crashing guitar jam. It was released as the B-side to "I'll Be Creeping".
  5. "Broad Daylight" - BBC Session 3.21
    • A BBC Session of the album track recorded on the 17th March 1969.
  6. "Songs of Yesterday" - BBC Session 3.11
    • A BBC Session of the album track recorded on the 17th March 1969.
  7. "Mouthful of Grass" 3.33
    • This early version of the song contains nothing but the rhythm guitar (played by Fraser) which formed the backbone of the finished song.
  8. "Woman" 4.00
    • This is an alternate version of the album track, with less prominent guitar.
  9. "Trouble on Double Time" (Fraser/Rodgers/Kirke/Kossoff) 2.37
    • This early version of the album track is an underproduced heavy-rock song that would have sounded more appropriate on Tons of Sobs.
  10. "Mourning Sad Morning" 5.10
    • This is an alternate version of the album track that does not contain Wood's flute solo.

References

  • Strong, Martin C. The Great Rock Discography, 6th edition. Edinburgh: Canongate Books 1994, 2002. pp. 392-3.
  • Sutcliffe, Phil. Notes to Free by Free. Universal Island Records Ltd. 1969, 2001.
  • Thorgerson, Storm and Aubrey Powell. 100 Best Album Covers. London: Dorling Kindersley 1994.

External links








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