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  • Includes liner notes by David Clayton.
  • In the early '70s, Paul Kossoff was a much-heralded young guitarist from a much-heralded young rock band called Free. In a short period of time, Kossoff and his cohorts punched out some classic rock. A brief solo career followed for the inspired axeman, but his untimely death in 1976 from a drug-related heart attack put an end to the potential that his peers and fans were looking forward to seeing fully realized. All one can do is celebrate and enjoy what this stylistically unique and utterly precocious musician left behind, and this 17-track disc, which culls Kossoff's best work from both his days with Free and as a solo performer, is an excellent way to do just that. A player who made his name with unusual phrasings, brazen fills, and an intuitive use of sustained notes -- and rarely going for fretboard-smoking speed -- Kossoff had a prototypical signature sound. His ability to do the work of two guitarists -- Free, for the most part, was a barebones guitar/bass/drums/singer outfit -- was one of his greatest strengths and, despite a good deal of studio dubbing, you can hear it in places on this album. The best cuts are definitely the eight Free tracks, which include the raunchy "The Hunter," the good-time rock-blues of "Ride on a Pony," the dramatic "Fire and Water" and "Mr. Big," and the band's all-time classic, "All Right Now." On yet another Free number, "The Stealer," Kossoff delivers one of his most searing solos, ripping arcane sounds from his Les Paul as if communicating a secret language through the instrument. The material from Kossoff's solo disc, Back Street Crawler, and the band of the same name which he subsequently assembled, is not to be sniffed at either. The songs, with the possible exceptions of "Molten Gold" and "New York New York," may not be as distinctive, but Kossoff's playing is. Throw in the fact that this album also features the singing of the inimitable Paul Rodgers (who later formed Bad Company), the stunning bass work of boy wonder Andy Fraser, and a swag of other fine musicians, and this one's vintage, baby, vintage. ~ Adrian Zupp
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