|Live album by Free|
February 2002 (reissue)
|Recorded||January 1970 – March 1971 at Sunderland and Croydon|
|Genre||Rock, blues-rock, hard rock|
Free Live! is a live album by English rock band Free. It was rush-released by Island Records to commemorate the band, who had broken up in April 1971. Possibly because of the publicity caused by their breakup (which had also earned them a successful parting single "My Brother Jake" that same month) the album was a hit, reaching #4 in the UK album charts. It fared less well in the United States however, reaching only #89.
The album (including the extra tracks) was recorded from gigs played in the UK locations of Sunderland and Croydon, both places where Free had substantial followings, in January and September 1970. Engineer Andy Johns could only use two tracks from the Sunderland gig ("The Hunter" and "All Right Now"), but used crowd noise from it frequently to create seamless links between tracks. With increased re-mastering technology available it has been possible to make others ready for the CD reissue, along with some alternate takes of tracks recorded at the second of the two Croydon sessions that were recorded. Many of the tracks on the album are from their debut Tons of Sobs, as that album's rock-oriented ethos and low production values made its material ideal for performing live.
- All tracks written by Fraser & Rodgers unless otherwise stated:
- "All Right Now" – 6:24
- "I'm a Mover" – 3:46
- "Be My Friend" – 5:56
- "Fire and Water" – 3:56
- "Ride on a Pony" – 4:30
- "Mr. Big" (Fraser, Kirke, Kossoff, Rodgers) – 6:13
- "The Hunter" (Cropper, Dunn, Jackson, Jones, Wells) – 5:29
- "Get Where I Belong" – 4:19
With the exception of one song, all performances are versions of album tracks. It begins with "All Right Now", which lasts for over six minutes. Rodgers's voice noticeably falters for a second during this song, showing how the album has not been altered in any way to remove such glitches as many modern live albums are. These are followed by loud, guitar-driven versions of "Be My Friend", "Fire and Water", "Ride on a Pony" and "Mr. Big". The live part then closes with one of the band's most popular tracks, "The Hunter" which receives a greater reaction from the crowd than any other song, including "All Right Now". Only the initial arrival of the band on stage at the very beginning causes a louder cheer.
The album then closes with the last of four studio tracks recorded by the band before they split (the other three songs surfaced in some form on Highway and information on them is contained in that album's article). It is a slow, mellow, acoustic song much like a large part of Highway was, and sounds completely unlike any of the live songs on this album.
Although being written as "Ride on a Pony" on the back of the CD reissue, on the cover of both the original LP and the CD it is written as "Ride on Pony".
The CD reissue contains many tracks not featured on the original 1971 LP release. These include "Woman" and a more rock-based version of "Trouble on Double Time" both of which are from Free, nothing of which was featured on the main album itself. There are also live versions of "Walk in My Shadow" (considerably slower than the version on Tons of Sobs) and "Moonshine", which lasts for over nine minutes. The extra tracks also contain alternate live takes of "All Right Now" and "Mr. Big".
The album closes with an alternative studio version of "Get Where I Belong", which is notable for Rodgers forgetting a line and having to hum a later one in order to regain his correct place.
- Strong, Martin C. The Great Rock Discography, 6th edition. Edinburgh: Canongate Books 1994, 2002. pp. 392–3.
- Sutcliffe, Phil. Notes to Free Live! by Free. Universal Island Records Ltd. 1971, 2002.