Highway (album)

Highway (album)

Infobox Album | Name = Highway
Type = Album
Artist = Free


Released = December 1970
February 2002 (reissue)
Recorded = September 1970
Genre = Rock, Soul
Length = 58:56 (2002 reissue)
Label = Island Records
Producer = Free
Reviews = *Allmusic Rating|2.5|5 [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:4mkmu3q5an5k link]
Last album = "Fire and Water"
(1970)
This album = "Highway"
(1970)
Next album = "Free Live!"
(1971)

"Highway" is the fourth studio album by English rock band Free. It was recorded extremely quickly in September 1970 following the band's success at the Isle of Wight Festival but with an attitude of relaxation, having achieved worldwide success with their previous album "Fire and Water" and the single "All Right Now". It is a low-key and introspective album compared with its predecessors.

Personnel

*Paul Rodgers - vocals
*Paul Kossoff - guitar
*Andy Fraser - bass
*Simon Kirke - drums

Recording

From a writing point of view "Highway" continued in the same vein as previous albums, with Paul Rodgers and Andy Fraser collaborating on seven of the nine songs. For the most part it was the easiest of their albums to record as they had achieved their desire to have a hit single and returned to the studio with renewed confidence. Paul Kossoff however found sudden fame more difficult to deal with, and remembered the aftermath of 'All Right Now' as being "a great increase in pressure from every angle" (quoted in Phil Sutcliffe's liner notes). He preferred the more serious, weighty songs on the album such as "Be My Friend", which he saw as an antidote to the "frivolity" of "All Right Now".

It was their last album to be recorded in a position of success and security, as its failure contributed to the emotionally-insecure Kossoff's growing drug addiction and the band's temporary split, from which it never truly recovered. Some, including Simon Kirke, also cite the death of Kossoff's idol Jimi Hendrix (which occurred during the sessions for this album), as an important factor in his eventual breakdown.

Reception

Much to the band's disappointment, the album only reached #41 in the UK album charts (the previous album "Fire and Water" had reached #2) and reached only #190 in America, not generally enough to register on chart listings. The single release "The Stealer" failed in the UK also, and reached only #49 in America. (Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke would later re-record "The Stealer" with Bad Company in 1975 during the sessions for Run with the Pack, but the track was not included on the album.)

The album received a lukewarm critical reaction. The single release "The Stealer" had not been Island Records boss Chris Blackwell's first choice: he had wanted to release "Ride on a Pony" but this was changed at the band's insistence. Some, such as engineer Andy Johns, blamed the album cover which was aesthetically flat compared to previous releases and did not display the band's name. It was believed that some fans who otherwise would have bought the album failed to notice it because of this.

The fallout was immediate. Relations between Fraser and Rodgers deteriorated, putting more pressure on Kossoff who slid ever further into Mandrax addiction. This left only Kirke to try and keep the band together. They returned to the studio in early 1971 and managed to record four tracks before they eventually split, after fulfilling contracted tour dates. These 'limbo' tracks included the surprise hit single "My Brother Jake"; the other three have surfaced on various other albums over the years.

Track listing

(All tracks written by Fraser/Rodgers unless otherwise stated)

Original tracks

# "The Highway Song" 4.14
# "The Stealer" (Fraser/Rodgers/Kossoff) 3.14
# "On My Way" 4.04
# "Be My Friend" 5.45
# "Sunny Day" 3.07
# "Ride on a Pony" 4.17
# "Love You So" (Rodgers/Kirke) 4.54
# "Bodie" 3.05
# "Soon I Will Be Gone" 3.01

Bonus tracks

# "My Brother Jake" 2.49
# "Only My Soul" 2.27
# "Ride on a Pony" - BBC Session 4.27
# "Be My Friend" - BBC Session 5.34
# "Rain" - Alternate Version 3.54
# "The Stealer" - Single mix 3.21

References

*Strong, Martin C. "The Great Rock Discography", 6th edition. Edinburgh: Canongate Books 1994, 2002. pp. 392-3.
*Sutcliffe, Phil. Notes to "Highway" by Free. Universal Island Records Ltd. 1970, 2002.

External links


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