Free At Last


Free At Last

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Free at Last is the fifth studio album by English rock band Free. The band had broken up in April 1971 due to differences between singer Paul Rodgers and bassist Andy Fraser but had now reformed.

All members of the band made a concerted effort to work smoothly and efficiently for guitarist Paul Kossoff‘s sake as he was suffering due to an addiction to Mandrax (Quaaludes). For example, in a symbolic gesture all tracks were credited to every member of the band regardless of who actually wrote them.

The attitude to the songwriting was also vastly different; there are no outright rock songs at all, and the three songs that contain fast-paced moments all have slower, more introspective moments. Also, many fans have interpreted some of the melancholic lyrics (many of which concern people in some form of emotional distress) as referring to Kossoff.

The album was reasonably successful, peaking at #9 in the UK album charts making it their most successful UK studio album since Fire and Water (1970). The single release “Little Bit of Love” reached #13; despite failing to enter the top ten it was still their third best selling single release (it would be beaten by “Wishing Well” the following year). The album fared less well in the US, reaching #69; this was still a significant improvement on all previous albums bar Fire and Water.

However, problems began again when the band was then expected to tour to promote the album, as Kossoff was faced with a task for which he was not physically capable. Gigs had been disastrous, with Fraser remembering that “you could see people in the audience crying for him, longing for him to be all right” (quoted in Phil Sutcliffe’s liner notes). Unable to continue, Fraser left the band permanently, aged just 20. Kossoff also pulled out of the tour (although not technically leaving the band) in order to seek treatment for his drug addiction.

During the period in late 1971 where the band had split, Kossoff and Kirke had formed a new band with Japanese bassist Tetsu Yamauchi and keyboard player John “Rabbit” Bundrick; Kirke asked them to join the Free tour in place of Fraser. They accepted, and soon joined the band officially.

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