"HEAVY LOAD - FREE" BOOK REVIEW

 

"HEAVY LOAD - FREE"
By David Clayton and Todd K. Smith
(c 2001 Moonshine Publishing)
A Book Review

HEAVY LOAD - FREE
This exceptional 300 page epic chronicles the story of the seminal British blues-rock band Free. Leaving no stone unturned, authors David Clayton and Todd K. Smith have painstakingly detailed the rise and fall of this band, from their early pub gig days in swinging late-sixties London, through the massive chart success of "Allright Now", to the varied fortunes of vocalist Paul Rodgers, drummer Simon Kirke, bassist Andy Fraser, and guitarist Paul Kossoff. Obviously a labor of love, Free historians Clayton and Smith have transformed the magic of Free's music and the chemistry of the band into print through conversations with the surviving members and some of rock's most respected names. Among those considered fans quoted in "Heavy Load" are Al Kooper, Chris Blackwell, Andy Johns, Ritchie Blackmore and many more. Given the perspective associated with the passage of time since the band's demise, the writers are able to give Free their deserved place in rock history as a truly significant and important musical force. While never enjoying the huge commercial success of their contemporaries Led Zeppelin, Free's early live performances were legendary and often shattered the attendance records of The Rolling Stones and The Who in their native U.K. Among the highlights of the band's career included opening for Blind Faith's only U.S. tour and playing the massive Isle of Wight festival in 1970. Interestingly, "Heavy Load" reads like a comprehensive who's who of late sixties and early seventies rock bands, particularly those British.

The story within the story of "Heavy Load" is of course the genius and tragedy of Paul Kossoff. Kossoff's early playing earned him legions of fans including Eric Clapton, but sadly, the drug use that was present in his life since his late childhood eventually destroyed his body and contributed to his untimely death at age 25. Of particular interest to guitar aficionados are the descriptions and superb photographs of Koss's instruments (most are late-fifties Gibson Les Pauls) and amplifiers we now consider vintage and collectible.

In this day and age of the "Behind The Music" cookie cutter approach to musical biographies, "Heavy Load" refreshingly manages to paint Kossoff, Kirke, Fraser and Rodgers as vibrant yet human musicians, preventing them from being portrayed as Spinal Tappish caricature of rock stars. Because of the quality of the writing and the drama of the story, "Heavy Load" will appeal to fans and non-fans alike.

At $58 ($38 for the book and $20 for shipping from England) "Heavy Load" is not cheap, but it represents one of the best books about a rock band ever written and the definitive Free book. "Heavy Load" can be ordered by sending a check or money order for $58, payable to:

Todd K Smith, Editor
THE CUTTING EDGE
Guitar-Fueled Rock n Roll
18341 Goose Lake Ct.
Reno, NV 89508
Ph: 775-971-1507

With its heavy gloss page stock and superb packaging, "Heavy Load" gets my vote for coffee table book of the year.

-Tom Guerra

 

CLICK HERE FOR SIMON KIRKE'S AND RABBIT'S TAKE ON "HEAVY LOAD"

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