Archive for the ‘Andy Fraser’ Category


Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Stealer / Free

Stealer / Free

Listen: Stealer / Free FreeStealer.mp3

Travellin In Style / Free

Travellin In Style / Free

Listen: Travellin In Style / Free FreeTravelin.mp3

Free had terrible luck with followups. I’ve always been a bigger fan of the single that came just after the big hit, there are endless examples. Used to say if I loved it – the act was in trouble – at least I know how to read my own barometer.

Free did it twice. ‘All Right Now’ was a monster global hit in May ’70. I still can’t listen to it all these years later – and I love the song. Unfortunately, you couldn’t escape it, almost to the level of ‘Good Vibrations’ or ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ in being hammered into a negative impression by radio. FIRE AND WATER, the album from which it came, was full of classic Free. The followup long player, HIGHWAY, seemed prime to do even better. It’s a better record too – I still maintain that. ‘Stealer’ was the lead single, and everyone had high hopes. They were selling more tickets than ever, their sound was now signature, with Andy Fraser’s bass strutting the songs forward and Paul Rodgers voice unmistakeable. Even the US label A&M thought it was in the bag, ordering a full color picture sleeve to house the 7″, not common in those days. Then plunk – didn’t even chart in the UK. What a shock. It stalled at #49 here – US radio would never touch them again.

Despite some occasional, and solid UK hits (‘Little Bit Of Love’, ‘My Brother Jake’), it wasn’t until ’73 that Free scored another big rock UK Top 10, this time from their solid HEARTBREAKER album, a bit of a comeback, regrouped, rejuvinated Free. ‘Wishing Well’ was as stormer, and just a perfect bit eerie, reaching #7 in January. One of the many top songs from that LP, ‘Travellin In Style’ was chosen as the followup. It’s loose, bar room sloppiness felt right in the ‘My Brother Jake’ pocket. Oh no, again plunk. Not a blip of sell through. Oddly enough a hard one to find in good shape.


Friday, January 16th, 2009

Kung Fu / Sharks

Listen: Kung Fu / Sharks Sharks.mp3

Being an avid fan of British bands during the 60’s and 70’s meant I’d find a way to hear just about everything. Working at college stations and record shops helped immensely. I’d give anything a chance, and having wide tastes allowed me to get excited about a whole slew of things that never got traction, many times despite deserving it. Sharks were a mini super group to us hardened Anglofiles. Andy Fraser from Free seemed at their core – and followers of Free know he was a key member, despite ‘only’ being the bassist. He wrote songs and his playing style was specific. Sharks benefitted from this recognizable strut. Add in Snips, a vocalist with a dash of both Jim Morrison and Paul Rodgers, plus Chris Spedding, a much accomplished guitarist who’d played with all the right people – and you’ve got something of a recipe. The NME and Sounds both anticipated their debut, and so did I. The two albums they made were patchy and there was little fanfare about the live shows. Missed them when they played The US – in fact don’t really recall it, but their bio says otherwise. Nonetheless, this single was a favorite and still is. The lyrics are a touch simple, but that never put me off. Don’t care much about lyrics unless they are particularly quotable. Block them out and just listen to the music – not a problem. The Asian slant was always pretty fun I thought, especially that piano line.