Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Free, "All Right Now"

Having spent two summers and my senior year of college working at classic rock radio stations, I must have heard Free's "All Right Now" hundreds of times, thousands if we're counting bumpers. And yet, long after I've tired of "Stairway to Heaven" and "Free Bird," I'll happily sit through "All Right Now."

I'm still hearing new things in it. Two years ago, I heard an organist play it at a Cubs game and realized the verses have the same melody as "Footloose" (which "All Right Now" predates by 14 years).

It's the only Free song I know, and I've never felt inclined to seek out any others. I'm assuming they're good, and maybe someday I'll find out. But as of now it feels like the complete encapsulation of a band. Maybe Free themselves realized this, as Paul Rodgers saved nearly of his hits for Bad Company. You've heard the riff in countless other songs, but never played like this, and you might forget which hook goes with it the first dozen or so times it turns up on your FM. But once you get there, you'll stick around for Andy Fraser's moment of rock immortality. The bubbling bass line that takes over the bridge right around 2:20 is a pioneer moment of a bassist taking the lead in a great rock song, and still one of the only rock bass solos that doesn't disappoint or wear out its welcome. Now that we've heard Steve Harris, Geddy Lee, Cliff Burton, Sting, Flea and more it doesn't sound so unusual, and yet no less perfect.

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