April 17, 2008

Free: Fire and Water (Deluxe Edition) Paul Kossoff: Back Street Crawler (Deluxe Edition)

Serious music geeks just love alternate takes, live recordings and such. They are able able to put up with a crappy sound if need be. Fire and Water was the breakthrough album for UK rock band Free in 1970 and contained the classic All Right Now, an anthem for the denim clad rockers worldwide, then and now. There are seven versions on this 2CD set which is great, but you will listen to the one from the BBC John Peel Live In Concert version only once. With the exception of Don't Say You Love Me, sourced from a new "Off Air" tape, these tracks sound like 8th gen tapes that have been stored in a damp cellar. They might have gone to the trouble to at least include speed-corrected versions.

Free: Fire And Water

On the upside there's the John Peel session they recorded on April 6th 1970, which captured the band at their peak. Andy Fraser Simon Kirke, Paul Kossoff and Paul Rodgers were on fire on stage at the time and there's plenty more proof on the second disc which contains previously released tracks from the box set Songs Of Yesterday and the Free Live album. A couple of alternate mixes and three different takes of All Right Now recorded for a video taping of that song round off the set.

Paul Kossoff: Back Street Crawler

Paul Kossoff: Back Street Crawler (Deluxe Edition)
When Free broke up guitarist Paul Kossoff finally made Back Street Crawler, the solo album that he had been talking about. His former band mate Paul Rodger stepped up to the mike for vocals on Molten Gold. On the original album his Tuesday Morning took the whole of side 1, with a running time of 17:39. It is an exploration of blues rock to the fullest with John "Rabbit" Bundry on organ. The Deluxe Edition offers 6 radically different takes, giving the listener a front row seat in the recording studio. Kossoff was full of ideas and he wanted to try them all.

While Free's Fire And Water can be accused of scraping the barrel, Back Street Crawler offers value for money, where the fluff only consists of a little over a minute run through of The Lady Is A Tramp.

Both 2CD sets have booklet with a nice essay written by David Clayton who penned the Free book Heavy Load and is running the Free Appreciation Society. Both sets are released on Universal.

» freeappreciationsociety.blogspot.com

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