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‘In Bed With Chris Needham’: Speed metal-obsessed teenager welcomes you to his Wayne’s world
03.14.2016
03:51 pm

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Television

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“Speed metal is just some of the most finest fantastic musicianship you’ll ever hear. I mean, to play an instrument that fast.”

No, In Bed With Chris Needham isn’t quite as laugh-out-loud funny as Heavy Metal Parking Lot—although it’s got several hilarious moments and loads of quotable lines—but it’s most certainly something that would go great on a double bill with it. The title is a play on In Bed with Madonna—which was what her Truth or Dare documentary was called outside of North America—and the film follows around a pimply-faced, speed metal-obsessed teenager with a greasy mullet shaped like a Cocker spaniel’s ears and an attempted moustache named—how’d you guess—Chris Needham.

When we meet the talkative Chris, who hails from the town of Loughborough, Leicestershire, in the East Midlands of England, he’s on the telephone trying to sweet talk a local music store into lending him and his mates some instruments because they haven’t got any of their own and they’ve got an upcoming gig.

You see, young Mr. Needham has been selected to appear on a BBC television series called Teenage Video Diaries. This program, which aired in 1993, long before anyone had heard the term “reality TV,” basically just gave cameras to British teens and had them turn the camera on themselves.

A two-part interview with Chris Needham on the LeftLion website states, convincingly, I might add:

If you’ve never seen In Bed With Chris Needham, I feel both sorry and jealous of you. The former because it is unquestionably the greatest TV programme ever, and the latter because one day you will see it with fresh eyes. It’s the kind of programme that makes you want to club yourself into amnesia so you can see it for the first time again and again.

I’ll have you know that I personally decided to watch it after reading the above paragraph, which is why I wanted to include it here. Aren’t you already feeling the urge to watch this thing yourself?

Of course you are.
 

 
Chris reminds me quite a bit of Mark Borchardt, the hapless hesher star of Chris Smith’s immortal classic American Movie. It continues:

The plot: Chris Needham, a 17-year-old Thrash Metal fan from Loughborough who has been absolutely lacerated by the puberty stick, is about to play his first gig with his band, Manslaughter. The problem is, they’re complete rammell. Between their first painful attempts to stand musically upright and their debut gig, Chris takes the time to defend Metal and Youth, unleashes torrents of adolescent venom upon the Green movement, ‘old bastards’, vegetarians, ‘Chart Music’, organised religion, teachers, and Neighbours, conducts a relationship with his girlfriend in excruciatingly painful silence, gets hassled by Mr Taggart and His Amazing Shirt, and goes fishing.

By the end, when a bare-chested Chris performs “I Don’t Want To Save The World” on a video that resembles something one could imitate in the Trocadero for a tenner, you realise that you have just witnessed the definitive statement on how rubbish it is to be an English teenager.

Oh man. This. Is. Good.

The credits indicate that “full editorial control” was given to Chris, who is seen drunk, stuffing his face with a hamburger, discussing some jointly-owned condoms sotto voce with his pal (I didn’t quite understand that part) and shouting “Feel sudden death from my guitar!” as he gets caught up in the music. There’s an awkward interlude with his girlfriend, an impressive head-banging demonstration, the worst, most inept rendition of the “Smoke On The Water” riff of all time, a recounted nightmare of his death foretold, and a depressed late night bedroom soliloquy. There is also a recurring interview with Chris’s seven-year-old brother who is his biggest fan, but even he realizes that Manslaughter’s drummer is shite and will just hold the band back, man…

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Mah Nà Mah Nà’: Song made famous by the Muppets was originally from a 1968 Italian softcore film
03.14.2016
10:49 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture
Sex
Television

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Although most people would associate “Mah Nà Mah Nà” with The Muppets or Sesame Street, this iconic song that’s been sung by children the world over for nearly half a century actually originates from a racy 1968 Italian softcore “mondo” documentary called Sweden: Heaven and Hell.
 

 
The film, which has scenes of swingers parties, nude beaches, porn films and lesbian nightclubs—and even a scene of drug addicts huffing gasoline and eating shoe polish on bread to get high—used the song in the context of its camera ogling several towel-clad blondes cavorting in a sauna giving the scene a comic “leering” quality when a few of them drop their towels and decide to frolic in the snow (because that’s what nude Swedish ladies apparently used to do back then).
 

 
Italian cinema composer Piero Umiliani’s original soundtrack score—or at least one number—“Mah Nà Mah Nà”—took on a separate life when it became a novelty hit, reaching #55 on the Billboard singles chart in October of 1969. (It would eventually reach #8 on the British singles chart in 1977. It’s been covered by the likes of the Dave Pell Singers, Tom Jones, Giorgio Moroder, Goldie Hawn, Nancy Sinatra in her Vegas act and there’s even a Moog version.)
 

 
The song was also associated with both Benny Hill and Red Skelton, then it was adopted by bearded hippy puppeteer Jim Henson. The beatnik Muppet character who would become known as “Mahna Mahna” debuted on Nov. 30, 1969, on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Read more after the jump….

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Chemical Generation: Boy George investigates how Ecstasy changed the world
03.11.2016
09:05 am

Topics:
Drugs
Superstar
Television

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It’s the analogy of a young happy couple moving into their first home. They decorate it. They like to fill it with those things that best represent their tastes, likes and overall loveliness. Sometimes they might add an extension, put in new windows, or knock down a few walls. One day the couple moves on to another house and a younger couple moves in. The fashions wrought are soon changed—but the structure of the house generally stays the same.

Every generation makes some claim to having changed the world. There may be some truth in it. Still however the furnishings may change, overall human nature usually remains stubbornly the same. Similar loves, hates, fears and worries never too far beneath the skin—or that fresh new coat of paint.

Folk singer Pete Seeger once claimed music could unify people and bring them all together as one big happy family—eliminating differences and highlighting shared pleasures. There was a similar belief held out for drugs in the 1960s when Harvard professor Dr. Timothy Leary urged everyone to “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Poet Allen Ginsberg thought if every politician dropped acid then world peace would result.

But can the hedonistic pleasures of drugs and music ever really change the world?

In the 1960s, Baby Boomers claimed they had revolutionized the world—made it better, more peaceful, freer. Weed, LSD, birth control and music had liberated everyone. Yet this belief is often founding wanting by the wars, oppression, racism, sexism, corporate greed, and some truly awful music produced during that decade and ever since. Pop music may have been widely available but LSD was only there for a certain elite—if you lived outside of a metropolitan area, your drug of choice then was probably alcohol or aspirin.

Similarly in the 1980s the raved up Ecstasy Generation claimed they had revolutionized the world with their raves and pills. But was it true? Did gurning and dancing and getting sorted for E’s and wizz really change society that much? Access to drugs was far easier, sure a byproduct of the Baby Boomers in the sixties looking for new experiences. The illicit production of ecstasy was enormous, which meant more people could sample the goods. By the mid-1990s, the Observer newspaper estimated that some 52 million ecstasy tablets were taken every weekend in the UK alone. And this in a nation of 63 million people!

Did rave culture have a greater effect on the world than hippies in the trippy sixties? If so how and what exactly (if anything) changed?
 

 
Superstar, singer, DJ, and famous former druggie Boy George is the ideal host to investigate these questions in this fascinating documentary The Chemical Generation. The ever radiant George examines the acid house, rave and club culture revolution, with considerable reference to the generation’s favorite chemical: methylenedioxy-methamphetamine—MDMA or ecstasy for short.

First broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 in 2000, The Chemical Generation tells the story of British club and drug culture from the early days of Acid House. Interviewing those on the front line—promoters, bouncers, drug dealers, clubbers, DJs (Danny Rampling, Judge Jules, Nicky Holloway, Pete Tong, Lisa Loud, Mike Pickering), top cops (Ken Tappenden, former Divisional Commander of Kent Police) and those cultural figures who have written about ecstasy culture (Irvine Welsh, Dave Haslam).

As an introductory note, a brief history to rave culture in the UK goes something like this:

In 1987 four working class males, Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, Nicky Holloway and Johnny Walker found themselves in clubs across Ibiza, listening to the music which was to make them legends in the dance scene and transform the face of youth subculture in Britain. Not only did they discover the musical genre of Acid House, played by legendary house DJ’s Alfredo Fiorillo and Jose Padilla in clubs such as Amnesia and Pacha, they were also crucially introduced to the drug MDMA, more commonly known as ecstasy. Johnny Walker describes the experience:

“It was almost like a religious experience; a combination of taking ecstasy and going to a warm, open-air club full of beautiful people - you’re on holiday, you feel great and you’re suddenly being exposed to entirely different music to what you were used to in London. This strange mixture was completely fresh and new to us, and very inspiring”

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
When Wendy O. Williams guest-starred in an episode of ‘MacGyver’
03.10.2016
10:25 am

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Amusing
Punk
Television

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Here’s something I didn’t know about: that time when Wendy O. Williams guest starred on MacGyver!? The episode aired on November 5th, 1990. You see Wendy wielding around a gun and in an ice skating rink getting an ass whooping by a nun played by none other than Richie Cunningham’s mom of Happy Days, Marion Ross. 

Added footage in this video includes scenes from the 1989 film Pucker Up and Bark Like a Dog. Someone who claims to have worked on the film chimed in the YouTube comments and had this to say:

i was a camera assistant on the movie Pucker Up…fun moments with Wendy O. Curiously enough she did not know how to ride a motorcycle so she was “pushed” into the shot from off camera. The hallway whipping scenes were 90% improv…was intense being in there.

 

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘I died in a bar of a heart attack’: Oliver Reed predicts his own death in a TV interview from 1994
03.10.2016
09:27 am

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Amusing
Heroes
Movies
R.I.P.
Television

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Though we never know the exact moment when we will shove off this mortal coil, it was very small odds to wager Oliver Reed would pop his clogs in a bar after one too many jugs of ale. It was how the great actor said he wanted to go and he predicted as much in an TV interview for The Obituary Show in 1994:

I died in a bar of a heart attack full of laughter. We were having a cabbage competition. I was very confident that for once I was going to win this vegetable competition. And somebody made a bet with me that was so lewd that I took it on and he shook my hand. And I laughed so much I was sick and died.

Reed died in a bar in Valletta, Malta during the filming of Ridley Scott’s movie Gladiator on May 2nd, 1999. Though he died in a bar drinking is true, the myths of that fateful day have clouded one small fact about Reed during his final screen role. As one of his co-stars Omid Djalili surprisingly recounted earlier this year, Reed “hadn’t had a drink for months before filming started.”
 
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Above him the sky…
 

Everyone said he went the way he wanted, but that’s not true. It was very tragic. He was in an Irish bar and was pressured into a drinking competition. He should have just left, but he didn’t.

The stories as to what and how much Reed consumed that day vary enormously. All that can be said is that Reed’s untimely demise was a great loss to acting, cinema and most of our lives in general. For if Reed did anything—he entertained us for forty years.

Gladiator would have been his comeback movie. His career had sadly withered during the 1990s to a handful of movies and too many inebriated appearances on TV. Reed never regretted his chat show escapades claiming he was an entertainer and the audience always expected him to be bad.

Reed’s role models for life and drink were the fighter pilots he met as a child during the Second World War. Many of these pilots had been his mother’s lovers. Reed’s job was to mix their drinks at the cocktail his mother organized. At each successive party, the number of pilots in attendance diminished as they were killed in active duty. Reed never forgot the carefree way they laughed, drank and enjoyed life fully without worrying about their ever-approaching death or injury.
 
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Reed wanted to live “bravely.” He felt acting was a fraud compared to those who fought battles, won wars, or worked hard every single day of their lives to eke out a basic living to support their families. Acting was pretending. Real life was out there—somewhere—usually in a bar.

The Obituary Show was a novel—albeit somewhat morbid—take on the traditional chat show. It presented various celebrities in heavenly surroundings discussing their lives as if they were looking down from the other side. The guests weighed up their lives answering questions on regrets, failings and success.

Though “frightened of not dying bravely,” Reed ‘fessed up very few (serious) regrets:

I regret having not made love to every woman on Earth.I regret having not kissed the nose of every dog on Earth. I regret having not been into every bar on Earth. But that doesn’t make me a hellraiser. If somebody punches me on the nose, I’ll punch them back. If somebody buys me a drink I’ll buy them one back.

The punctuation mark I leave on this helter-skelter of life: On my gravestone is written “He made the air move.”

 
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How the press reported it.
 
Reed gave a rare and thoughtful interview in this edition of The Obituary Show with his most moving admission made when discussing events after his death:

The only thing I regret about my own funeral was that I couldn’t go to my own wake because it was a wonderful party. And every time I kept on tapping somebody on the shoulder—I’m going to cry now. They didn’t know I was there.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The original ‘I Love Rock ‘n Roll’ by obscure 70s trio Arrows, plus Marc Bolan and Slade!
03.09.2016
09:53 am

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Music
Pop Culture
Television

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Arrows
Arrows and the original version of the “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” single, 1975
 
I’m quite sure that everyone reading this has heard the anthemic “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” that was popularized by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts in 1981. But if you don’t know the origins of the song, then you’ve probably never heard of the Arrows, a rock trio comprised of musicians from both America and the UK—vocalist and Bronx native, Alan Merrill (the former vocalist for the cult glam band Vodka Collins), guitarist Jake Hooker (who went on to manage acts like The Knack and Edgar Winter), and UK drummer Paul Varley. Otherwise known as the band that actually wrote and recorded “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” back in 1975.
 
Arrows
Arrows
 
Arrows performing on their show, Arrows
A shot of Arrows performing on their TV show
 
As the folklore goes, Jett was on tour with The Runaways in the UK when she caught Arrows (who formed in 1974) performing the song on their short-lived television show Arrows. Produced by well-known television personality, actress and producer, Muriel Young (who was also behind Marc Bolan’s show, Marc), the 30-minute show which was broadcast between 1976 and 1977, and featured the band performing their own songs—many prodcued by the great pop impressario Mickie Most—as well as “star guest” segments from acts like Slade, and a short-haired version of Marc Bolan who lip-synced in front a live studio audience.

As glammy and cool as The Arrows were (and they really were), they never enjoyed the same success with the single that Jett’s version of “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” did, and the band broke up after the the last run of their eponymously titled show, sometime in 1978. Jake Hooker married Lorna Luft, the daughter of Judy Garland and the half-sister of Liza Minnelli during his tenure with Arrows and they stayed together until 1993.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Twin Peaks,’ ‘Better Call Saul,’ ‘Mad Max,’ & more as ‘70s-style Topps trading card wrappers
03.09.2016
08:54 am

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Amusing
Art
Movies
Television

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Last Autumn, Minneapolis-based illustrator Zack Wallenfang began a series of Topps trading card/gum wrapper homages built around cult TV, films, and even a few bands. There’s very little to say about them except to admire how dead spot-on they are! The artist is similarly taciturn about himself, offering only “I like making things I feel should exist, like these faux vintage wax pack wrappers.” His about page is as cheeky as his work, but no more informative:

Zack is a graduate from the Minneapolis of College Art & Design with a Bachelor in Fine Arts. He enjoys making things and getting paid for it. You probably need him.

Wallenfang has an Etsy shop, but alas, these gum wrapper parodies aren’t among its offerings, at least not yet. I’d encourage you to peruse it nonetheless; despite his evident penchant for self-deprecation, he’s a very gifted caricaturist.
 

Just F everyone’s I—there actually was a set of Twin Peaks cards, when the show was still airing—not by Topps, but by Star Pics.


 

 
More after the jump (some really good ones, too)

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Hated ‘The Witch’? Then watch the (extremely!) NSFW ‘Citizen Kane’ of witchploitation docs
03.07.2016
11:21 am

Topics:
Occult
Television

Tags:


 
The reviews for the new movie The Witch (sometimes styled The VVitch) are in, and well, they are completely at odds with the experiences viewers are reporting.

Let’s document that, shall we? Reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes are praising the Robert Eggers movie at a rate of 89%, but audiences feel rather differently, with only 52% giving it a positive rating.

Anecdotally, my impression is that even that 52% figure might be generous. DM’s head honcho and honchoess Richard Metzger and Tara McGinley absolutely hated it, our Chris Bickel felt lukewarm towards it too, and Doug Benson of the Doug Loves Movies podcast and most of his guests who have mentioned it seem to have a special vitriol for the unusually disappointing stinkbomb.
 

 
So it’s probably a good idea to get ahold of a palate cleanser and start all over again. Nothing could be better for that than the remarkable 1970 documentary Legend of the Witches, written and directed by Malcolm Leigh. One blogger has called it “the Citizen Kane of witchploitation documentaries—however much that is worth.”

That note of ambivalence perfectly captures the experience of watching Legend of the Witches. On the one hand, it seems obvious that the interest in witchcraft is little more than a pretext for showing naked people on film. But it has to be admitted that the movie takes the subject pretty seriously, it’s not just nudie schlock.

It doesn’t take ten minutes before we get to see some footage of a bunch of naked people dancing around a fire. Ten minutes after that and a chicken has been vivisected over a chalk compass/calendar and its entrails examined for auguring purposes. If you’re looking for wiccan ritual, this is a prime artifact. The black-and-white cinematography is simply gorgeous, and Malcolm Leigh’s treatment of the subject is intelligent and interesting, even if the whole thing can’t avoid being a little silly.
 

 
In the image above you can read what may be my favorite movie poster pullquote of all time: “Has more exposed flesh and genitalia per square foot than virtually anything in the sex film genre.”

Can you say “skyclad”?

According to one source, Legend of the Witches is the only movie to feature “the only footage in existence of the infamous ‘King of Wicca,’ Alex Sanders.” Alex Sanders and his wife Maxine had become the de facto “King and Queen of Witches” around this time, and this movie was based on their experiences and her willingness to get her kit off in the name of marketing.

You might remember Alex Sanders from our report last year on the legendary occult rockers Black Widow, with whom he worked closely.

The final section of the movie addresses the subject of “scrying,” which is defined as the act of looking into a mirror and seeing the future. There’s a lot of hypnotic visuals in this part as well as some attractive women and a dude wearing a goat’s head mask—it’s basically the best thing you could put on a party while the music of the Black Angels or Mogwai roils on over it.

Have I mentioned that this movie is definitely NSFW? I guess I haven’t. Rest assured that you do not want coworkers catching you grok this in your cubicle.
 
Click through to watch this very unusual movie….....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Creationists prove that dinosaurs and people coexisted in goofball ‘X-Files’ parody skit
03.03.2016
12:01 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Belief
Science/Tech
Television

Tags:


 
Recently we’ve seen the return of one of the most popular TV shows of the 1990s, The X-Files, scratching that conspiratorial itch for millions of fans (who probably are more interested in Mulder and Scully getting it on than the truth value of the UFO theories the show so hysterically presents).

So it’s a good a time as any to resurrect this chestnut that dates from the early to mid-Bush years, a spoof of The X-Files called The X-Tinct Files purporting to uncover the hidden truths scientists are too fixed in their ways/arrogant/brainwashed to countenance, mainly that history does not stretch millions of years back and that dinosaurs lived a short time ago, alongside human beings.
 
More cringeworthy creationist fun after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘All Right Now’: Free rock steady, amazing live footage from 1970
03.02.2016
01:21 pm

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:

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Free is one of those bands who most people know from just their two hits singles “All Right Now” and “Wishing Well” and pretty much nothing else. Both tracks still receive much radio airplay and can usually guarantee gents of certain age will be air guitaring once the solos start. But for all the acclaim and enjoyment of these singles, little is ever said about how truly tight this band were live or how groundbreaking they were, setting down a style of music for other bands to follow.

Free were a hard rock and blues band consisting of Paul Rodgers (vocals), Paul Kossoff (guitar), Andy Fraser (bass) and Simon Kirke (drums). They were all young teenagers when they first started gigging in different bands. Through the guidance of legendary blues man Alexis Korner the four like-minded youngsters came together to form a group in 1968. The youngest was fifteen (Fraser). The eldest were eighteen (Rodgers, Kirke). Korner dubbed the band “Free” and so they were born.
 
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Free spent long hours rehearsing until they were almost telepathically in tune with each other. They gigged everywhere—no place was too lowly or too small—from boozer to club to proper theaters. At a time when music was shifting from psychedelia and flower power to blues and rock, Free were a part of a new generation of bands that were ringing in the changes.

In 1968, they released their debut album Tons of Sobs—a good and powerful blues album that sounded as if it was recorded in one goose-bump, adrenaline-pumping take—with amazing interplay between Rodgers’ vocals and Kossoff’s guitar. However, it did little to raise the band’s profile. However, live they were getting the attention they hoped for and a legion of dedicated fans started turning up at their gigs.
 
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In 1969, Free released their eponymous second album, which didn’t do as well as expected (it should have sold shedloads). It was during this point there was early signs of division within the group as Rogers and Fraser formed a songwriting partnership which dictated the direction and style of the band. It left Kossoff and Kirke feeling isolated and a tad mutinous. Guitarist and drummer considered dumping Fraser and replacing him with Mott the Hoople’s Overened Watts. Kossoff also considered joining another band and auditioned as guitarist for The Rolling Stones. While Fraser and Rodgers wondered if they should form their own band. However, this was all temporarily forgotten about with the massive success of their next album Fire and Water—a stunning record which also contained their biggest hit single “All Right Now.”

Continuing under the writing partnership of Fraser and Rodgers, Free began to create a powerful, seminal white blues/hard rock sound that other bands would have greater success in copying. They found a steady pulse in Kirke’s drumming and a prodigiously talented guitarist in Kossoff. Free gave a star performance in front of 600,000 at the Isle of Wight Festival and were considered by many in the music press to be the future of rock. They had broken the American market and were seemingly on the verge of greatness.

But a fourth album Highway, also released in 1970, failed to follow-up on the success of Fire and Water. This together with disagreements between Rodgers and Fraser, and Kossoff’s serious drug problem, caused the band to temporarily split. The NME reported:

With their current single ‘My Brother Jake’ standing high in the UK charts, Free have disbanded!

The decision to break up was taken during the group’s recent Australian tour and now the various members are planning new bands.

Announcing the split, a spokesman said: ‘The boys felt they had achieved as much together as they possibly could within their existing framework. They have now decided to pursue individual careers..’

It was thought Kossoff and Kirke would stay together and assemble a new group. While Rodgers and Fraser would form their own bands. A live album—recorded at Sheffield and Croydon’s Fairfeld Hall—was planned for release but no further singles.

As fate would have it the release of a live album in 1971 proved to be yet another big hit and personal disagreements were soon resolved and the band released their fifth album Free At Last in 1971, which put them back in the Top 10. Free At Last is a dark, brooding, deeply felt and powerful album considered by some critics as a plea by the band for Kossoff to get off the drugs. During its recording Fraser allegedly kidnapped Kossoff in an attempt to get him clean—it didn’t work.

When it came time to tour and promote the album, the reality of Kossoff’s drug problem meant he was “physically incapable of performing.” Arguments flared between Fraser and Rodgers and the band split—this time with Rodgers and Kirke staying on as Free. The band’s last success was their sixth album Heartbreaker which charted big in both the UK and US and gave the band a final hit single “Wishing Well.”

Keeping reading after the jump… it’s Free…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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