Tons of Sobs is the debut album by English blues rock band Free, released in the UK on 14 March 1969. While the album failed to chart in the UK, it did reach #197 in the US. Free are cited as one of the definitive bands of the British blues boom of the late 1960s even though this is the only album of their canon that can strictly be called blues rock. According to bass player Andy Fraser, the title effectively summed up the album.
Free were a new band when they recorded Tons of Sobs, and they were extremely young; none of them were yet twenty and the youngest, Andy Fraser, was just sixteen years old. They had achieved a following through constant touring, and their debut album consisted for the most part of their live set-list.
With the band signed to Chris Blackwell’s Island Records, Guy Stevens was hired to produce the album (he later became notable for producing early albums for Mott the Hoople and The Clash’s legendary album London Calling ). He opted for a minimalist attitude to production, due to the extremely low budget of about £800, creating a very raw and raucous sound – although it may have been that the relative inexperience of the band was also a contributing factor to this. As such the album is a marked contrast in production terms from the band’s later albums. The simple nature of the recording meant that many tracks translated well into a live setting and several songs from this album were still performed even when the band had written and recorded many more for subsequent records.
The majority of the album was recorded over the course of a few days in October 1968. Originally slated for a November release, the album was delayed to early 1969 due to the late addition of their cover of “The Hunter”. This track was a mainstay in their live sets and was recorded in a December 1968 session at Stevens’ insistence. (by wikipedia)
Although Free was never destined to scrape the same skies as Led Zeppelin, when they first burst out of the traps in 1968, close to a year ahead of Jimmy Page and company, they set the world of British blues-rock firmly on its head. The band was a blistering combination of youth, ambition, and, despite those tender years, experience that across the course of their debut album, did indeed lay the groundwork for all that Zeppelin would embrace.
The fact that Free and Zeppelin were cut from the same cloth is immediately apparent, even before you start comparing the versions of “The Hunter” included on both bands’ debut albums. Where Free streaks ahead, however, is in their refusal to compromise their own vision of the blues. Even at its most commercial (“I’m a Mover” and “Worry”), Tons of Sobs has a density that makes Zeppelin and the rest of the era’s rock contemporaries sound like flyweights by comparison. (by Dave Thompson)
This album was the start of one of the most intersting UK groups from this period … and the rest is history !
Andy Fraser (bass, piano)
Simon Kirke (drums, percussion)
Paul Kossoff (guitar)
Paul Rodgers (vocals)
Steve Miller (piano)
01. Over The Green Hills (Pt. 1)” (Paul Rodgers) 0.51
02. Worry (Rodgers) 3.28
03. Walk In My Shadow (Fraser/Kirke/Kossoff/Rodgers) 3.31
04. Wild Indian Woman (Fraser/Rodgers) 3.40
05. Goin’ Down Slow (Oden) 8.23
06. I’m a Mover (Rodgers/Fraser) 2.57
07. The Hunter (Jones/Wells/Dunn/Jackson, Jr./Cropper) 4.14
08. Moonshine (Fraser/Kirke/Kossoff/Rodgers) 5.05
09. Sweet Tooth (Rodgers) 4.54
10. Over The Green Hills (Pt. 2) (Rodgers) 2.08
11. I’m a Mover (BBC session) (Rodgers/Fraser) 3.06
12. Waitin’ On You (BBC session) (King/Washington) 2.18
13. Guy Stevens Blues (Rodgers/Fraser/Kirke/Kossoff) 4.44
14. Moonshine (alternative vocal) (Fraser/Kirke/Kossoff/Rodgers) 5.12
15. Sweet Tooth (early take and alternative vocal) (Rodgers) 4.56
16. Visions Of Hell (Fraser/Rodgers) 3.50
17. Woman By The Sea (Fraser/Rodgers) 3.23
18. Over The Green Hills (BBC session) (Rodgers) 3.52
The 2001 reissue the first of the seven albums released in the Island Remasters series. When the CDs are lined up together, images of Paul Kossoff and Paul Rodgers can be seen.