FREE – ” All Right Now ” Classic Tracks

Posted: September 8, 2016 in MUSIC
Tags: , , ,
45 Years Ago, Free Felt All Right

“There she stood, in the street,” sang Paul Rodgers with that inimitable swagger in his voice. “Smiling from her head to her feet.” Little did he know that he was introducing the Free song that would go on to be one of the most durable British rock anthems of all time.  To this day, 46 years later, you can’t listen to rock radio in the UK for long without hearing the strains of this irresistible number, written by Rodgers and Free’s late, lamented bassist Andy Fraser. The song was included on the band’s third studio release ‘Fire and Water,’ which came out in late June 1970. But by then ‘All Right Now’ was already a top ten hit .

After two years of critical success, and building their name as a live attraction, this was the year of Free’s commercial breakthrough. ‘All Right Now’ marked their first time on the UK charts, although that entry position of No. 36 didn’t necessarily promise great things. But after a climb to No. 27, the single raced into the top ten and, frustratingly for the band, spent the whole of July at No. 2, five weeks in all in which it was held off the top by first Mungo Jerry’s ‘In The Summertime’ and then Elvis Presley’s ‘The Wonder Of You.’

All Right Now sleeve

As the Free single climbed the charts, vocalist Paul Rodgers told Melody Maker: “I am really surprised at the success of ‘All Right Now.’ I don’t see myself as a single singer, but it’s there, and people are going to be a lot more interested in buying the album because they will have heard of us.”

ANDY FRASER (Bassist/co-songwriter) commented,

“The conception of the song was when we were playing a small college date on a rainy Tuesday in some out-of-the-way place near Durham. There were only about 20 kids there, and they were all whacked out of their heads on Mandrax. We played, and apart from not even being noticed by the audience, we sucked. We were bad and when we came off stage, in the dressing room there was this awful silence. So I started singing, ‘All right now, baby, all right now’ and everyone started tapping along and singing, and it turned into bit of a jam, just getting rid of that horrible vibe, and we thought: ‘OK tomorrow’s another day.’ That’s where the chorus came from, a really bad situation. The guitar riff came another day, and it’s me trying to impersonate Pete Townshend, who was, to me, the all-time greatest chord king. Of course, I couldn’t play it as good as Pete! I think Paul [Rodgers] got the lyrics and the verse together pretty quick, waiting for the band to pick him up to go off for a gig. We started playing it in sound checks just to do something a bit different.

“We didn’t think we’d written a classic song at all. We just regarded it as a kind of throwaway three-chord trick. I thought we had a lot more mature songs, like ‘Heavy Load’, which was also on Fire And Water. It was Chris Blackwell, our manager, who wanted to put it out as a single. We didn’t take him seriously and tried to suggest another one, but he was thick-headed, and proved himself right.

“The song’s now used everywhere! I think there’s a football club over here, one of the big San Francisco football teams, that uses it as their theme song. It’s always on adverts and on the radio. It’s amazing but it’s strange. I still can’t quite take it seriously. I still see it as a three-chord trick with me pretending to a play guitar like Townshend, with some teenage lyrics… like it’s not difficult to pull those things together.

“When Free broke up, that was the hardest thing ever. Free to me, was a family. I mean, I loved my blood family but with the band we all felt, ‘OK I’ve found home.’ We were brothers, watching each other’s back, anticipating each other’s thoughts, finishing each other’s sentences; it was that kind of closeness. We tried to hold it together, but it wasn’t there. It’s such a sad story when you think about what it did to Paul Kossoff.”

 

PAUL RODGERS (vocals/co-songwriter)

“‘All Right Now’ came about after playing a gig up North. I said to the guys that we needed a song to follow ‘The Hunter’ which, at that time, was our biggest song – something with a chorus that the audience could sing. I said, ‘Something like [sings] “All right now, baby!”’ and I picked up a guitar and showed them how simple it could be. Andy went away with that and came back with the first chords. I think Koss may have had some input, because he had an amazing finger stretch and he could hit some really big chords.

“I worked on the lyrics as I was waiting for the guys to pick me up for a show and it didn’t take long because sometimes, when the music’s with you, it just flows right out. We played in a club that night, what we called two 45s, which was a 45-minute set, a break, and another 45-minute set. We opened the first set with the brand new, rough and ready ‘All Right Now’. There were only a few people there, but when we played the song, they all got up and started to dance, which was excellent. Then, when we came to the end of our second 45-minute set, I said to the audience: ‘Do we have any requests?’ A few people shouted out, ‘Play that song you started with!’ I thought that was pretty incredible, that they remembered it! So we played it again. I knew we had something special right then. We fine-tuned it a bit in the studio, but that’s where it came from.

“I don’t think there was any doubt that the song was going to be a single. But one of the things we did hesitate about was playing the song on Top Of The Pops. We considered ourselves to be an underground band with lots of street credibility and now, all of a sudden, we were appearing on Top Of The Pops. What convinced us was the argument that we could reach a lot more people. That did it for me.

“The BBC were convinced that I had sung a rude word; ‘Let’s move before they raise the parking rate’ – they thought I’d said the ‘effing rate’. All the BBC team came down to the studio and we had to break down the track and take everything off until it was just the voice and we convinced them it was ‘parking rate’. The Musicians Union also got involved. They said everything had to be live when music was played on TV, so we took the vocal off, mixed the backing track, and I sang it live. That’s why the vocal may be slightly different to the released version.

“We recorded the song downstairs at Basing Street’s Island Studios, in the crypt. We’d worked on the song live so we knew exactly what we wanted to achieve. I’ve always looked at the blues guys and the soul guys who recorded their songs as if they were live and we wanted to put that kind of spark into the song.

“The song has a kind of universal simplicity. That’s what I was looking for when I wrote the chorus. I wish I could do it again! Songs do write themselves through you; I know people find it hard to believe, but it’s true. I still enjoy playing it and get a kick, because the energy of the audience is fresh every night.”

“All Right Now’ has become the hit that keeps on giving, returning to the charts on numerous occasions. Reissued just three years later in 1973, it reached No. 15; in 1978, it was part of the ‘Free EP’ that went to No. 11. A 1985 re-release saw it nudge the bottom of the countdown at No. 96, and it then went all the way back to No. 8 in 1991.

Free, All Right In 1970

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.