Music is important to us because of the way it makes us feel. That’s why for nearly everyone, their favorite music is from their Teenage years. A time of change and turmoil for most of us, we are hypersensitive and having new experiences. Music is the soundtrack to those times and hopefully we’ll remember it forever.
Music was changing so quickly in the 70’s that a person’s musical taste can be quickly linked to their age. If I had been just a couple of years older I would have been more attached to prog and heavy rock, the ‘older brother’ music. A couple of years younger I would have been more attracted to the shiny pop of the late 70’s. Instead my formative years lets say around 16 coincided with the mid 70’s which was a little bit of a musical doldrum (only in relation to the 70’s, compared with what was to follow it was a veritable garden of musical talent).
Alright Now was released in 1970, I was probably only 11 years old and I was still listening to ‘Junior Choice’ on the radio. Introduced by Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart’ the show had started introducing pop records alongside children’s, novelty records and even light classical. I can’t remember hearing Alright Now on the show although its not impossible, fairly heavy rock music was pretty popular, it got in the charts and was on ‘Top of the Pops’ but whether it entered my consciousness through those Saturday morning shows I really don’t know.
Somehow though, it seemed like the song had always been with me. It must have been played a lot but there’s another reason and that was it’s popularity as a cover version. It’s an easy song to play, although like a lot of Free/Bad Company songs it’s hard to play as well as the original. When I got to the stage of going out and seeing cover bands in pubs this song would inevitably be trotted out (other staples were ‘Smoke on the Water and ‘Both to be Wild’), I’ve heard it a lot, I’ve played it a lot, in fact I can manage all the instruments apart from the guitar solo-its that easy. But despite that it’s a song of far more than the sum of its parts and I’m always happy to hear it again.
It’s a fantastic sound, slightly funky bass (Gibson SG, very in vogue for a while especially with the smaller player) Overdriven Les Paul, simple and effective drumming and ,of course, Paul Rogers vocals which, for some reason, have seldom been bettered. It’s a bit strange in the sense that there’s no Bass in the verse despite being written by bass player Andy Fraser, it’s a selfless act although he makes up for it with the distinctive bass part in the solo
If a song had a smell this would have a combination of body odour, patchouli oil. Old Holborn tobacco and Newcastle Brown ale. To be honest plenty of people smelt like that its quite a comforting smell for me.
And, of course, it reminds me of being young again which is no bad thing.
But here’s the thing. In the clip below they are playing the song live and, is it just me or is this a fantastically great band? I’ve tried to reunite with ‘rock’ on many occasions and it just doesn’t do it for me but I would take 5 minutes of Free over the entire back catalogue of the Foo Fighters, are these the ramblings of an old man or is 70’s rock just better ?