Media Condition: VG+
Sleeve Condition: G+
Genre: Rock, Blues, Classic Rock
Notes: Cover shows ringwear and discoloration with seam splits; small tear where sticker was ripped off on back. Writing on back cover and on label. Disc shows some scuffing, but plays very clean with subtle surface noise.
If you like: classic rock with a country twang (à la Allman Brothers Band, Derek & The Dominos, Bachman-Turner Overdrive) you’ll appreciate Highway in all of its glory.
About: Famed for their perennial “All Right Now,” Free helped lay the foundations for the rise of hard rock, stripping the earthy sound of British blues down to its raw, minimalist core to pioneer a brand of proto-metal later popularized by 1970s superstars like Foreigner, Foghat and Bad Company. Free formed in London in 1968 when guitarist Paul Kossoff, then a member of the blues unit Black Cat Bones, was taken to see vocalist Paul Rodgers’ group Brown Sugar by a friend, drummer Tom Mautner. After deciding to form their own band, Kossoff and Rodgers recruited drummer Simon Kirke (since Mautner was at university) and 16-year-old bass phenom Andy Fraser from the ranks of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers; with the aid of Alexis Korner, who also suggested the name Free, the fledgling band signed to the Island label, issuing their bluesy debut Tons of Sobs in 1968.
Free’s eponymous 1969 follow-up expanded on their roots-based sound, incorporating rockers like Albert King’s “The Hunter” as well as muscular ballads like “Lying in the Sunshine” into the mix. Although both of the first two albums fared poorly on the charts, 1970’s Fire and Water became a tremendous hit on the strength of the primal “All Right Now,” a Top Five smash powered by Rodgers’ gritty, visceral vocals. After headlining 1970’s Isle of Wight festival, the group appeared destined for superstardom, but the LP Highway did not fare nearly as well as anticipated, and after a grueling tour which yielded 1971’s Free Live, the band dissolved amidst ego clashes and recriminations. *Jason Ankeny
A favorite track: Ride On A Pony