Tons of Sobs is the debut album by English blues rock band Free, released in the UK on 14 March 1969. While the album failed to chart in the UK but reached #197 in the US, Free are still cited[by whom?] as one of the definitive bands of the British blues boom of the late 1960s even though this is the only album of their canon that can strictly be called blues rock. The title of the album does not relate directly to the content of the album; it is both a colloquialism of "lots of money", reflecting the swaggering attitude with which the album was made, and an oblique reference to the darker, more sombre moments of the record.
Free were a new band when they recorded Tons of Sobs, and they were extremely young; none of them was yet twenty and the youngest, bassistAndy Fraser, was just sixteen years old. They had achieved a following through constant touring, and their debut album consisted for the most part of their live set-list.
With the band signed to Chris Blackwell's Island Records, Guy Stevens was hired to produce the album (he later became notable for producing early albums for Mott the Hoople and The Clash's legendary album London Calling ). He opted for a minimalist attitude to production, due to the extremely low budget of about £800, creating a very raw and raucous sound – although it may have been that the relative inexperience of the band was also been a contributing factor to this. As such the album is a marked contrast in production terms from the band's later albums. The simple nature of the recording meant that many tracks translated well into a live setting and several songs from this album were still performed even when the band had written and recorded many more for subsequent records.