FREE — Tons Of Sob (review)

FREE — Tons Of Sob album cover Album · 1969 · Proto-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Free's 1969 debut, "Tons of Sobs", has to be their dirtiest, hardest, sweatiest, and most aggressive record in the band's catalogue. The album comes across as a recording by a young band who studied the likes of Cream and Jeff Beck with Rod Stewart and then dropped nearly all subtlety in favour of raw energy.

After the 49 second opening track, the first part of the largely acoustic number "Over the Green Hills", a chorus of "Ahh"s fades out and heavy guitar chords backed by a hard thumping bass and a steady drum beat that could well pass for shotgun blasts comes tromping in. This is the beginning of Free's most metal song ever, "Worry". Except for the inserts of bluesy piano rolls, the song is all power, all electric and sees the band nearly totally untethered. Paul Rogers sends the needle into the red by the second chorus as he sings, "Worry / Baby, worry / There's a reason for you to". Telling her that there's a silent, deadly message in the wind, Paul's bluesy rasp gets a power overload, while Paul Kossof is going nuts on lead guitar and rhythm section Andy Fraser (bass) and Simon Kirke (drums) would be galloping if they weren't smashing holes through the studio floor.

"Walk In My Shadow" shows the Cream influence and this is a swaggering, blues number with some real good scratchy guitar chords. It's followed by "Wild Indian Woman", which has a similar feel and groove as "Walk In My Shadow" but with a slightly cleaner guitar sound. Hear Paul Rogers sing, "You don't need your horses, baby / You got me to ride." Damn!

"Goin' Down Slow" is one of those typical, slow bluesy numbers that you've probably heard a dozen times before. I'm sure I have a nearly exact version by a different title but by another band and recorded in a small bar with the sounds of people chatting and glasses tinkling. To be fair to Free, though, turn this up and it's a real monster. I guess the reason why it wasn't recorded in a small bar with people chatting and glasses tinkling is because if they had, they would have been no people chatting and glasses tinkling because everyone would have been standing stunned still by the band's full on performance.

"I'm a Mover" kicks off side two with another typical blues rocker and it's interesting to note that Iron Maiden actually covered this song as a b-side to "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter". "The Hunter" is a cover of the classic tune by Booker T. Jones and company and sticks with the raw, high power electric blues by a band that really want to show their spit and vinegar.

Things slow down a bit with "Moonshine", which is a little hard to describe, (lyrics about staying in a graveyard all night by his tombstone) except that the brief chorus reintroduces the power of the band. "Sweet Tooth" has those scratchy guitar chords and this time adds a bit of funk to the bluesy swagger. The only thing that doesn't work so well is that Rogers' voice is in the right audio channel only for some reason. The album wraps up with the rest of "Over the Green Hills", which is where the rest of the song is.

The re-issue features several bonus tracks which includes live recordings (recorded live as a band and not before any audience as there is no cheering or clapping and also no people chatting and tinkling glasses for that matter), alternate versions of songs, and studio outtakes. Of these, "Guy Stevens Blues" (dedicated to producer Guy Stevens) is yet another example of an electrified blues band featuring a guitarist who sounds like a crazy Eric Clapton and "Visions of Hell" which is mostly a slower, depressing song but which culminates in a more guitar-aggressive finale.

Free would, over the next three albums, tame their sound and give it more smoothness and polish. But they would never again show off such rawness and raunchiness coupled with some stunning punches as they did one their debut.
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1 year ago
They stopped after six and that was probably a smart thing to do.
Nightfly wrote:
1 year ago
A legendary band with no bad albums.

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