Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Free: All Right Now

Perhaps one of the quintessential rock recordings was Free’s 1970 one hit wonder “All Right Now.” There were actually two mixes of this song, the single mix and album mix which is not unusual in the music business.

The single mix which was played to death on radio in 1970 features some different guitar parts. It is an almost forgotten version of the song that has been eclipsed by the LP mix which has been available for all of these years while the single mix has faded into oblivion.

From 1970, here is a mono recording of “All Right Now” as the band performed the song on Britain’s “Top of the Pops.” It’s a chance to hear and see the band perform a version that is akin to the single mix of the tune.

Notice that during the verses bassist Andy Fraser is not playing. It is only drummer Simon Kirke and guitarist Paul Kossoff that back up Paul Rodgers’ vocals. During the chorus, Andy Fraser adds his very tasty bass licks.

Cowritten by Fraser and Rodgers, the song was a number 1 hit in 20 countries; however, in the US this A&M release peaked at #4. In 2006 at a special ceremony in London to honor European composers and authors, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) honored Fraser and Rodgers with a Million-Air Award for three million plays world-wide. Although the single “The Stealer” charted at 49, “All Right Now” was their only US top forty hit.

Contributing to its overall success in the UK, “All Right Now” was released several times; the initial release peaked at #2 in 1970. Follow-up releases occurred in 1973 (#15), 1978 (#11), 1982 (#57), and 1991 (#8).

Stereo Album Mix

From the bands second album, “Fire and Water” here is unedited and original mix of “All Right Now.” The late Paul Kossoff’s use of double tracking the guitar is evident in the stereo mix.

At on brief moment, Kossoff’s timing is off ever so slightly – really it is only nanoseconds. You really have to listen for it and it occurs after the long instrumental part. When the rhythm guitar comes in at about 3:36 in the song, the attack on the guitar in the left channel is slightly behind the right channel guitar.

Most people probably won’t even catch this and it is just so slight of a flaw in an overwhelmingly perfect performance in probably wasn't worth fixing at the time. Depending on the equipment being used, a punch in on the track may not have been possible and rerecording the entire track may have had to occur. Such things can be done with ease and electronically in today's digital environment.

Fraser is also playing piano and organ on this cut. The two keyboard instruments are introduced separately. The piano comes in at 2:26 during the long instrumental break following the solo. At the end of this break, the organ is introduced at 3:30.

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