Jan 25, 2023
1 mins read
Fifty Years Ago This Month In Music - Norm Rosenfield
Part 1 - January
Free - Heartbreaker
Free put out six albums before vocalist/guitarist Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke left to form Bad Company. Heartbreaker would be their final album. Opening with “Wishing Well,
” the overall sonic quality is quite heavy for 1973. If only that big riff didn't sound like “Dolly Dagger” by Jimi Hendrix.
“Come Together In the Morning” is a ballad by Paul Rogers. The songwriting here merely hints at what was yet to come. In January 1974 Bad Company debuted with a #1 monster of an album, combining the heavy vibes of Free, Rodgers vocals, memorable riffing from Mick Ralphs (Mott the Hoople) and a large satchel of catchy songs.
“Travellin’ in Style,” a Southern country gospel blend, features acoustic guitar and Rabbit Bundrick on piano (he would later join forces with the Who). It’s also one of those songs that feature a II major chord to IV major (like “Eight Days a Week” and Rod Stewart’s “Stay With Me”).
The closest Free gets to Bad Company territory is “Hearbreaker” Jack Bruce might have inspired the bass line, due to the similarity to “Politician.” The title track’s comfortable walking tempo riff is right out of Cream’s blues power bag of tricks circa 1968. Unlike most of the other tunes on the album, this composition is credited solely to Rogers.
“Seven Angels” concludes the album with a masterfully mixed stereo spread (thank you Andy Johns) highlighting the two guitars and organ. It is a classy employment of call and response arranging between keys and jangly guitar. Rodgers’ singing and songwriting chops here really foreshadow great things to come.