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FREE Fire and Water/PAUL KOSSOFF Back Street Crawler
Deluxe Editions, Universal (2008)


Universal's deluxe editions really are that: excellent repackages of classic albums expanded with new and bonus material and informative sleeve notes (in these examples, from Free historian David Clayton).

Free's Fire and Water, their third album, is often considered their best and it broke them to a wider audience when released in 1970. Here we get a previously unreleased BBC session (not pristine quality but historically interesting) and different versions of the album tracks, like the US mix of the title song.

There is some duplication if you have the excellent 'Songs of Yesterday' but overall this a reissue worth investing in with improved sound over the 2001 remaster. And to emphasise the significance of the band's lurch into the mainstream: there are three versions of the classic 'All Right Now' from a video shoot.****

Paul Kossoff

Three years after Free's album breakthrough they had split up, and Paul Kossoff's solo album, released in 1973, is now expanded with unreleased outtakes including several jams. There are 6 additional versions of the song 'Tuesday Morning' - this may seem excessive but they are all explore a range of musical moods.

There is an exquisite early single with John Martyn ('May You Never' recorded in 1971, never released) and the full 38 minute version of 'Time Away'. You really have to stay with this to fully appreciate the funky groove, and overall the album is more soulful than you'd perhaps expect.

Kossoff died tragically in March 1976 and this edition of his first solo album is a fitting tribute to his memory. ****½

Review by David Randall

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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