Bits and pieces have surfaced over the years, but nothing is more comprehensive than Free Forever when it comes to early 70s blues rockers Free. Free Forever is a double-DVD set packed with vintage clips of the band in their heyday plus new edits of their performance at the 1970 Isle of Wight. According to the DVD’s liner notes, this is about all the video there is of Free — making it a must-own for any fan or classic rock historian.
The first disc gets down and dirty with two stellar television appearances from 1970. The first is from Germany’s Beat Club, with three songs: “Mr. Big” (featuring a rubbery bass solo from Andy Fraser), “Fire And Water” and “All Right Now.” From England’s Granada TV on a special Doing Their Thing, Free rip through five numbers: “Ride On Pony,” “Mr. Big,” “Songs Of Yesterday,” “I’ll Be Creepin’” and “All Right Now.” These clips alone are well worth the price of admission.
The Original Videos portion comprises five music videos covering favorites (“All Right Now,” “The Stealer” and “Wishing Well”), funky detours (“My Brother Jake”) and a fitting tribute to Free’s late guitarist Paul Kossoff. Another section on the first disc called The Freelist features an odd mix of television appearances (lip syncing on Top Of The Pops), interviews, film clips of the band (with and without audio) shot by Kossoff’s brother Simon, and a couple of recent Andy Fraser music videos.
The second disc includes Free’s appearance at the 1970 Isle Of Wight festival. The 10 songs they played are available in audio only (with an accompanying slide show). As for festival video, you can watch the original offline edits, different angles, split screen or all-new edits of “Be My Friend,” “Mr. Big,” and “All Right Now.” To top it all off are recent interviews with singer Paul Rodgers, drummer Simon Kirke, Simon Kossoff and Fraser, talking about the concert.
If you’ve been drooling at the prospect of Rodgers and Kirke’s staying with Bad Company, take a trip back to where it all began and pick up Free Forever. Finally, you can witness one of the rawest, most intense blues rock bands of the early 70s in all their glory. In addition to Rodgers and Kirke, one cannot dismiss the songwriting and funky bass work of Andy Fraser. And you’d be a fool to not count Paul Kossoff among the first wave of hard rock guitar heroes who’d drawn the line in the sand with a simple, yet mighty riff. Collectively, few could do better than Free.
~ Shawn Perry