Tuesday, 25 October 2011


Free are one of those bands who are known, especially in Australia for one song, their anthemic 1970 hit All Right Now but they left behind quite a significant catalogue of music which included 7 studio and 1 live album. Free were a band who didn't reach the heights many expected it too the usual issues were at fault, drug abuse, musical differences etc. Their album Heartbreaker was their final studio album released in January 1973, it was also for their most coherent and polished album, possibly assisted by new personnel.

Heartbreaker was recorded during considerable turmoil in the band, the group had disbanded in 1971 only to regroup a few months later in order to provide a focus for troubled guitarist Paul Kossof. After the release of Free At Last original bassist Andy Fraser left the group to form the group Sharks with guitarist Chris Spedding. His replacement was Japanese bassist Tetsu Yamauchi, also added to the lineup was Texan keyboard player John 'Rabbit' Bundrick who had come to notice working with Johnny Nash. Paul Kossoff and drummer Simon Kirke had recorded an album with the new additions in 1971 (released as Kossof, Kirke, Tetsu and Rabbit). Heartbreaker was recorded in late 1972 with Andy Johns helping the band produce the album, Johns was fresh from his work with The Rolling Stones. Paul Kossoff played on five of the eight tracks but was unable to tour with the band upon the release of the album.

The title track Wishing Well stuck close to the bands blues rock sound, opening with a thunderous bass and guitar line and some sparse piano lines, the riffs employed sound like they had an influence on future hard rock acts of the late seventies and early 80's. I'm not sure who played guitar on the track I think it may be Paul Kossoff, he is also listed as a co-writer with the other members of the group but the song was actually written by singer Paul Rodgers about Paul Kossoff. Heartbreaker shows Free with a more developed sound whoch was certainly enhanced by the keyboard work of John Bundrick, he also shares songwriting credits for half the album. The title track provides an opportunity for Free to show how strong a rock band they were, the song highlights the amazing talent of Paul Kossoff. Come together in the Morning which was released as the second single from the record also highlights Kossoff at his powerful best. There is the slow blues of Travellin Style while Rabbit Bundrick takes the band in a soulful direction with his Muddy Water. Paul Rodgers is in a relatively mellow mood vocally on the album, he was certainly one of the most distinctive vocalists of that second wave of British R&B vocalists.

Wishing Well was released as the first single and reached #7 in the U.K, the Heartbreaker album reached #9 in the U.K and #47 in the U.S. The group toured the U.S and did some shows in Japan but the tour was unsuccessful as Paul Kossoff was unable to tour and his replacement Wendell Richardson didn't fit the bands style. Not long after Free called it a day with Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke forming Bad Company, Tetsu went on to join the Faces and Rabbit Bundrick joined The Who as their keyboard player on the road. Paul Kossoff formed the band Back Street Crawler with whom he recorded two albums before he died tragically of heart failure mid flight on his way to New York.

No comments:

Post a Comment