Highway (Free album)

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Highway
Studio album by Free
Released December 1970
February 2002 (Reissue)
Recorded September 1970 at Island Studios, London
Genre Rock, blues-rock, hard rock
Length 35:58
Label Island
Producer Free
Free chronology
Fire and Water
(1970)
Highway
(1970)
Free Live!
(1971)

Highway is the fourth studio album by English rock band Free. It was recorded extremely quickly in September 1970 following the band's success at the Isle of Wight Festival but with an attitude of relaxation[citation needed], the band having achieved worldwide success with their previous album Fire and Water and the single "All Right Now". It is a low-key and introspective album compared with its predecessors.

Recording[edit]

From a writing point of view Highway continued in the same vein as previous albums, with Paul Rodgers and Andy Fraser collaborating on seven of the nine songs. For the most part it was the easiest of their albums to record as they had achieved their desire to have a hit single and returned to the studio with renewed confidence[citation needed]. Paul Kossoff however found sudden fame more difficult to deal with, and remembered the aftermath of 'All Right Now' as being "a great increase in pressure from every angle" (quoted in Phil Sutcliffe's liner notes). He preferred the more serious, weighty songs on the album such as "Be My Friend", which he saw as an antidote to the "frivolity" of "All Right Now"[citation needed].

It was their last album to be recorded in a position of success and security, as its failure contributed to the emotionally-insecure Kossoff's growing drug addiction and the band's temporary split, from which it never truly recovered[citation needed]. Some, including Simon Kirke, also cite the death of Kossoff's idol Jimi Hendrix (which occurred during the sessions for this album), as an important factor in his eventual breakdown[citation needed].

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars link

Much to the band's disappointment, the album only reached No. 41 in the UK album charts (the previous album Fire and Water had reached #2) and reached only No. 190 in the US. The single release "The Stealer" failed in the UK also, and reached only No. 49 in the US. (Rodgers and Kirke would later re-record "The Stealer" with Bad Company in 1975 during the sessions for Run with the Pack, but the track was not included on the album).

The album received a lukewarm critical reaction[citation needed]. The single release "The Stealer" had not been Island Records boss Chris Blackwell's first choice: he had wanted to release "Ride on a Pony" but this was changed at the band's insistence. Some, such as engineer Andy Johns, blamed the album cover which was aesthetically flat compared to previous releases and did not prominently display the band's name[citation needed]. It was believed[by whom?] that some fans who otherwise would have bought the album failed to notice it because of this.

The fallout was immediate. Relations between Fraser and Rodgers deteriorated, putting more pressure on Kossoff who slid ever further into Mandrax addiction[citation needed]. This left only Kirke to try and keep the band together. They returned to the studio in early 1971 and managed to record four tracks before they eventually split, after fulfilling contracted tour dates. These 'limbo' tracks included the surprise UK #4[1] hit single "My Brother Jake"; the other three have surfaced on various other albums over the years. A notable cover version in 1971 is "Be My Friend" by Sylvia McNeill, produced by Tony Hall, on RCA 2058 (UK 45rpm).

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Andy Fraser and Paul Rodgers unless otherwise stated.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "The Highway Song"   4:14
2. "The Stealer" (Fraser, Rodgers, Kossoff) 3:14
3. "On My Way"   4:04
4. "Be My Friend"   5:45
Side two
No. Title Length
5. "Sunny Day"   3:07
6. "Ride on a Pony"   4:17
7. "Love You So" (Rodgers, Kirke) 4:54
8. "Bodie"   3:05
9. "Soon I Will Be Gone"   3:01

Bonus tracks[edit]

No. Title Length
10. "My Brother Jake"   2:49
11. "Only My Soul"   2:27
12. "Ride on a Pony (BBC Session)"   4:27
13. "Be My Friend (BBC Session)"   5:34
14. "Rain (Alternate version)"   3:54
15. "The Stealer (Single mix)" (Fraser/Rodgers/Kossoff) 3:21

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  • Strong, Martin C. The Great Rock Discography, 6th edition. Edinburgh: Canongate Books 1994, 2002. pp. 392–3.
  • Sutcliffe, Phil. Notes to Highway by Free. Universal Island Records Ltd. 1970, 2002.

External links[edit]