Free (A-Z #44)

Fireandwater_albumcover

Although All Right Now is undoubtably the starting point into the Free story for those still discovering them some 44 years after their main split early in 1971, it was in fact the last track they recorded for the album it would eventually close – the ground-breaking ‘Fire and Water. The album itself was released in June 1970, just as the single was being kept from the Number 1 spot by Mungo Jerry’s ‘In the summertime’

Fire and Water was actually the band’s third album but they’d been together for just 18 months when they recorded it over two separate sessions at the beginning of 1970. However, it also marked the beginning of their demise thanks, in no small part, to the brilliance of ‘All Right Now’.

This was quite possibly the first truly post-modern song in rock, its memorable song-along lyrics and the stuff of myriad post-millenium karaoke sessions an admission of pragmatism to the ‘love is freedom’ mantra of the late 60s coupled with one of the greatest rock guitar riffs of all time. ‘All Right Now’ reached Number 1 in over 20 countries world-wide after which it would go on to receive upwards of three and a half million airplays over the succeeding forty-four years.

So it’s sadly ironic that the success of ‘All Right Now’ robbed Free of the musical freedom they had built up in the 18 months leading up to the release of ‘Fire and Water’. All Right Now became bigger than all of them; they couldn’t follow it with anything that came close and, despite a number of post-album landmark gigs in several countries, Free split early in 1971. There was a brief reformation a year later and two more albums – but the spark had gone and, as the glitter years took hold, Free disbanded for good.

Fire and Water lives on though. It’s a timeless classic and is as much about now (2015) as it was about then (1970). It’s got that timeless something that grabs you by the unmentionables and shouts into your soul. Just seven tracks from the opening magic of the title track through to the closing thunder of ‘All Right Now’, but seven tracks of heaven that assure Free of Classic Rock band status and the album as one of the best of our times.

to make way for the massive success

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