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This album was the penultimate of Free's very short career and irrespective of the other reviews detailed here, it's worth buying alone for the last song on the original album, "Goodbye". The line 'don't waste your time on hate, can be used in better ways' is one to savour and the sparse arrangements (as always, Kossoff worked on the 'less is more' principle) as usual worked.
Along with the single "Little Bit Of Love", whilst not as good as my second favourite single of all time "My Brother Jake" (Bobby Darin's "Mack The Knife" being my absolute favourite), this was a great 3 minute pop/rock single.
Along with "Travellin' Man", "Child", "Guardian Of The Universe" and a couple of other minor tracks - perhaps even album fillers - there is enough here to wax lyrical about and ponder the inevitable question here.
The band Free were excellent individual musicians but, the sum of the collective far outweighed that of the individual talents. I wonder what the band could have managed to come up with were it not for the individual problems of the members. One looks at the songs written by Simon Kirke for Bad Company ("Anna" and Don't You Weep No More"), Andy Frazer's "Fool In Love" (co-written with Frankie Miller for Miller's 1975 album, 'The Rock; "Every Kinda People" finished off by Robert Palmer, John "Rabbit" Bundrick's "Muddy Waters", the songs by Frazer & Rodgers; and along with Kossoff, the world really was their oyster.
My overiding feeling is that with some decent manager/producer, who was able to handle the collective more effectively, they could have achieved much, much more.
To paraphrase a song title of the late George Harrison, "Isn't It A Pity?"
`Free at Last' was the last aborted attempt to save the band but more specifically to save Paul Kossoff. The mercurial guitarist had succumbed to the drug addiction that would eventually kill him and his band mates thought, incorrectly as it turned out, but with their hearts in the right place, that a reformed Free would be the very thing to get Kossoff back on his feet. Due to its strained recording period, the album is not a very rocking, happy affair but very melancholy with several dark mood pieces and mellower interludes. "Catch a Train" which opens the album almost promises a return to the `Tons of Sobs' period but instead the listener gets most of the darker aspects of `Highway'. "Little Bit o' Love" was a hit and another upbeat number as is "Travellin' Man" and these two along with "Train" are my personal faves but again the LP is dominated by much more morose and somber affairs. "Guardian of the Universe" is great but several of the songs seem to have the same feel. "Magic Ship" and "Soldier Boy" are both excellent but again the slower tempo numbers set the tone which is almost depressing and judging by the lives of the individuals involved...it's kind of expected. This would ultimately be the last "real" Free album as Andy Fraser brought down by both his feud with songwriting partner Paul Rodgers and the condition of Paul Kossoff left for good not soon after the album was released.
As a regrouping effort after they went their own ways and did not see their expectations...This one slowed down a bit but, if you listen a couple times it will rock you donkey off. Give this one a ride and Paul Rodgers and crew will prove your purchase price.