The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This Outstanding Pink Rim Island UK import pressing earned excellent Double Plus (A++) grades for sound - it's one of the few copies to hit the site in many years
- The sound is big, rich, and spacious, with tons of hard rockin' energy and a solid bottom end
- Only the right UK pressings had the classically Tubey Magical British Blues Rock sound we were looking for - most were pretty awful
- Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they're making these days - if you want to hear Tubey Magic, size and energy, a vintage pressing like this one is the way to go
- 4 1/2 stars: "... an album that stands alongside its predecessor as a benchmark of British blues at the turn of the 1960s."
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Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. The original fold open for this early pressing has quite a bit of wear. We are including a '70s Island cover that is in exceptionally nice condition. If you would like both covers just let us know.
KILLER sound throughout! It's got exactly what you want from this brand of straight ahead rock and roll: presence in the vocals; solid, note-like bass; big punchy drums, and the kind of live-in-the-studio energetic, clean and clear sound that Free practically invented. (AC/DC is another band with that kind of live studio sound. With big speakers and the power to drive them YOU ARE THERE.)
Boy, is this record RARE in clean condition, ten times as rare as All Right Now I would guess. Truth be told, Tons of Sobs is even more rare; I bet you we don't see even one clean copy of either of them in a given year. (The accelerating reality of this situation is becoming worrisome to those of us who love early pressings of Classic Rock Records. Supplies are drying up and prices are rising, trends that show no sign of abating.) Free fans, get it while you can!
What excellent sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1969
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We Listen For on Free
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
I'll Be Creepin'
Songs of Yesterday
Lying in the Sunshine
Trouble on Double Time
Mouthfull of Grass
Mourning Sad Morning
Free's second album was recorded with the band itself in considerable turmoil as principle songwriters Paul Rodgers and Andy Fraser demanded strict discipline from their bandmates, and guitarist Paul Kossoff, in particular, equally demanded the spontaneity and freedom that had characterized the group's debut. It was an awkward period that saw both Kossoff and drummer Simon Kirke come close to quitting, an eventuality that only the intervention of label chief Chris Blackwell seems to have prevented.
Few of these tensions are evident on the finished album — tribute, again, to Blackwell's powers of diplomacy. He replaced original producer Guy Stevens early into the sessions and, having reminded both warring parties where the band's strengths lie, proceeded to coax out an album that stands alongside its predecessor as a benchmark of British blues at the turn of the 1960s.
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