Thursday, 4 April 2013

1970 Free - Fire and Water



Free - Fire & Water, 1970

Info: I'll start off the 1970's album reviews with Free's amazing album, Fire and Water, but before that, I have to say that I know this is going to be the hardest decade to review in terms of the number of great bands and albums that were around during this period. Personally, I believe the 70's was the greatest decade for music, both new bands and existing ones such as Deep Purple, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, I think all of these groups produced their most intriguing albums at this time and pushed the boundaries of experimentation as well. If I was told I could only listen to music from one decade for the rest of my life, it would be this one.

In the same year that Black Sabbath released Paranoid, Neil Young After The Gold Rush, Led Zeppelin's third album, George Harrison's All Things Must Pass and Deep Purple had In Rock, Free brought out there third, and best, studio album, Fire and Water. We all know their famous song 'All Rright Now' which is the last track on the album, but the preceding 6 songs are all killer and no filler, especially 'Oh I Wept', 'Mr.Big' and 'Heavy Load'. Formed in London in 1968 the original line-up consisted of Paul Rodgers on vocals, Paul Kossoff on guitar, Simon Kirke on drums, and a ridiculously young Andy Fraser on bass (15-years old when the band were formed). Rodgers and Kirke would eventually go on to form Bad Company, while tragically guitarist Kossoff died in 1976 at the age of 25 from a heart-attack as a result of his drug-taking habit. Their blues rock style appealed to many and the band toured incessantly, however, it was the aforementioned single, 'All Right Now' that shot them to fame, and ultimately led to them playing in front of 600,000 people at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. The group would go on to release three more studio albums, and a live one (Free Live! in 1971, the unique vinyl album cover in the form of an envelope), before disbanding at the start of 1973, (Kirke and Rodgers becoming increasingly fed up with Kossoff's inability to play live left in '72). 

As always I prefer to introduce people to albums or artists that you may not commonly come across, I wouldn't see the point in me doing a write-up on Abbey Road or Dark Side of the Moon for example. With Free in particular I feel compelled to mention them as a band that have seemingly become overlooked in music writing, rarely appearing in 'best of' lists or referenced by critics. To sum it up I refer to the words of reviewer Matthew Greenwald from www.allmusic.com (very user-friendly site and database of artists / discographies); 'If Fleetwood Mac, Humble Pie and Foghat were never formed, Free would be considered one of the greatest post-Beatles blues-rock bands to date, and Fire and Water shows why.' (I've never heard of Humble Pie either - a hybrid of The Small Faces and Peter Frampton it seems). If I was to guide you to one track above all apart from the album track in the above video, it would be 'Oh I Wept', it's moody, uplifting, has a very smooth loungey bass and great guitar solos, it's also a real summer song, so if you're in Ireland, you can listen to it by the fire with a cup of Bovril. What the hell, here it is below. The album itself, remastered with bonus tracks is currently €6.71 on www.play.com

Track Listing:

1. Fire and Water
2. Oh I Wept
3. Remember
4. Heavy Load
5. Mr.Big
6. Don't Say You Love Me
7. All Right Now

Oh I Wept

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