Archive for the ‘Free’ Category


Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Peace In The End / Fotheringay

Listen: Peace In The End / Fotheringay

Turning October Island pink in support of curing breast cancer, I’m reposting Fotheringay from April 6, 2009:

Remember in the very early 70′s Warner Brothers did those $1 and $2 samplers you could send off for from the back pages of ROLLING STONE? Well A&M did one too, and only one if memory serves me well. Titled FRIENDS, it was nicely full of UK bands like Blodwyn Pig, Free, The Move and Spooky Tooth to name a few. Fotheringay were on there, this song in fact. ‘Peace In The End’ was my first taste of the band, which I was well anxious to hear.

I’d loved Fairport Convention, and when Sandy Denny left to join up with Trevor Lucas in Fotheringay, well there was more of them all to love basically. Unlike most fans, my most memorable Fairport Convention period followed her departure. FULL HOUSE, ANGEL DELIGHT and BABBACOMBE LEE were and are hands down favorites. The lineups with Dave Swarbrick and Simon Nicol are just perfect for me.

I didn’t fall in love with the Fotheringay album, but I sure did fall in love with it’s only single, ‘Peace In The End’. I must have played this hundreds of times.

Years later, during that first London trip Corinne and I made together in ’77, Howard Thompson brought us round to the Island offices, where he did A&R at the time. In the back, there was an up and running company canteen which did hot food all day for staff and whoever was in the studio at the time. It was still operational ten years later when I joined the label.

What an experience that was. Just envision, growing up and living in upstate New York, and to then be suddenly transported to London for a two week vacation, meeting someone in Howard who would unknowingly change our lives forever, well we literally died and went to heaven.

Rico and his band were there rehearsing downstairs, Simon Kirke from Free eating with Jess Roden, various members of Eddie & The Hot Rods and Ultravox. Over in a corner were Trevor Lucas and Sandy Denny. She was very quiet, but extremely sweet when I approached her for a hopeful talk. Her voice as angelic when speaking as in song. ‘Peace In The End’ will forever remind me of her aura on that day.


Friday, July 16th, 2010

Listen: Black Cloud (Edit) / Trapeze Trapeze.mp3

Formula early 70′s blues rock…maybe. The vocal was uncannily close to Steve Marriott, circa Humble Pie – not a bad thing. In fact, there may be a few Jackie Lomax vocal moments in there as well – how rad is that? And the song itself, Free at their best.

At least one member of Trapeze went on to greater fame in, I think, Deep Purple or quite possibly an even more questionable AOR band. I didn’t bother to Wikipedia it all because who cares. In fact, given my disdain for such things, I prefer not to know.

Their second album, MEDUSA, was their pinnacle, at least in my little, little, little corner of the world. I honestly did like it plus no harm done by being on a London distributed label (Threshold). Nice gatefold sleeve, The Moody Blues still respectable. All good.


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.