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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Free - Forever Free DVD Review

Free Forever – DVD review (Eagle Vision)
When I was growing up and hearing music – Which I really only started to get seriously interested in, when I was about 11. – I was into the likes of Status Quo, ELO, Slade, The Strawbs and The Sweet, to name a few and the 70’s had just arrived. The thing was my older brothers were into the earlier rock type stuff from the 60’s, I remember some Jimi Hendrix, The Faces, Pink Floyd, Cat Stevens as well as some 70's T-Rex and some stuff like …, Free.
So I had an awareness of it, but at that age it really wasn’t grabbing me but ..., it IS music that I have now come to appreciate, ahem, with age!

Anyway, so here we have ‘Free Forever’ a double DVD set of various bits and bobs of Free stuff, but sadly it is mostly just about 1970 and kind of focused around their appearance at the Isle of Wight festival in the UK, that same year. Also, there's something strange to me with this DVD coming out now, is that the date shown on when this package was all compiled, was in 2006 by David Clayton, 4 years back.

Another peeve here is that you know when you sometimes get into a new song and then get really sick of hearing it again and again on the radio, TV, etc, well … I used to like the Free track 'Mr. Big,' but to be honest on this compilation of material, 'Mr. Big' seems to show up again and again and by the end of getting through this, I really didn’t want to hear the song again for sometime!
It’s tragic that Paul Kossoff died so young after having been so caught up in the whole drugs mess.
Sad indeed.

To the material here on offer then, it starts with 3 video’s from German TV at the Beat Club and, ‘Man, that’s psychedelic video, man …!’
The tracks performed are 'Mr. Big,' 'Fire and Water' – Love this song! – and 'All Right Now' and wow, check out those flares, platform soles and hair!
Funnier still is the exact opposite that you see today – or should I say 2006 - on these guys, is short hair and very well in shape characters in Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke and Andy Fraser in each of the accompanying interviews throughout. I must say, these interviews are pretty good to follow. Entertaining stuff!

The Granada TV (UK) performance is a pretty good recording, but check out how stiff the audience was at the time! Maybe some suspicious substances doing the rounds to keep them mellow!
This show captured the band playing, 'Ride on Pony,' 'Mr. Big,' 'Songs of Yesterday' where they all get into it and loose, 'I’ll Be Creepin’' and 'All Right Now' which they are giving their all, but polite applause is all they get!

After this there’s the original ‘promo videos’ as they were at the time for, ‘All Right Now,’ ‘The Stealer’ – Great and much overlooked track! – and ‘My Brother Jake.’ There’s also ‘Love You So’ written by Kirke / Rodgers after Kossoff’s death, which isn’t that different from Black Sabbath’s ‘Changes’ to be honest. The video is made up of photos of Paul Kossoff as a tribute and then ‘Wishing Well,’ which must’ve been recreated later in the early 80’s as the lorry, sorry, truck that the girl gets into to drive away in, was ‘X’ reg., which was 1981/2.
It was entertaining that one, if cheesy, whilst the others were standard fare generally, but still good to watch.

Then there’s the bonus stuff here, with Top of the Pop’s footage, an Australia interview where I think the signs of exhaustion were starting to set in, where the band were being driven and driven to gig more and more.
There’s other video’s and some silent film too along with more interview material, including Paul’s brother Simon Kossoff, where he shares about the film that follows with Paul meeting his Dad, David Kossoff for fish and chips no less!
Who knows what they discussed, as David Kossoff had long campaigned against drug use, following Paul’s death.
Weird and wacky video’s from Andy Fraser, with his spiritual / exotic music follow here.

Disc 2 is a little disappointing, as it’s focused on the Isle of Wight festival performance, but it’s basically audio footage through 8 tracks, supported by photo images and you almost wonder why this disc wasn’t perhaps made a Dual Disc format, i.e. CD/DVD, so fans could play the tracks in their cars or wherever. Then what follows here is what video footage from the event was captured and that covers just 3 songs in ‘Be My Friend,’ ‘Mr. Big’ and ‘All Right Now.’

Then again, various other bonuses of photo’s and individual camera access for the Isle of Wight performance, so you can just stick with one view or another, etc. Then all the interview footage rolled into individual interviews with Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke, Andy Fraser and Simon Kossoff and then that’s about it really.

Some great footage here to see and again, I’m baffled by why if this is just being released now, why is the most recent date on the package shown as 2006?
It’s not indicated anywhere that it’s been remastered in any way or form so that really kind of throws me?

RIP Paul Kossoff, your guitar work was a certainly something special, that the world has lost and it was a tragedy, like so many other rock stars who threw away their lives at so young an age.
Your memory will certainly live on though.

Rating: 3 out of 5


  1. Al,
    Not sure why this DVD has only just become available to you - I've had it for several years now. Was it previously only on UK release? Mine's from a "Numbered Limited Edition".
    The highlights for me are the German TV and Granada TV sessions on Disc 1 - the band are playing live and are in great form and well recorded. I love the sparseness and tasteful simplicity of their sound. As a guitarist I'm especially touched by Paul Kossoff's tone and awesome vibrato technique but every member of Free brought something special to the gig.
    I share your disappointment with the second disc but I think with Free it's just a case of having to accept what precious little is available. The "Live At The BBC" CD set also has a mix of great material and other tracks where the audio quality is disappointing.
    Anyone who plays in a rock band can learn something from watching Free. Elegant and groovy!
    Simon Forrester

  2. Hey Simon, thanks for your comments.
    The press release I received a while back before I got the DVD for review, said nothing of it being previously released anywhere else ...
    I know sometimes UK CD releases don't get US releases until a few years after sometimes, very strange and vice versa.
    I guess this is one of those cases.

    Yes, it's good material to view for sure and as you so rightly say, the audio quality isn't the greatest, but remember from where it all came from and also worth noting David Clayton's accompanying notes with the DVD set.
    Wish there was a CD of the audio from Isle of Wight gig though, would've been good to have been included. :)
    Cheers and all the best,