August 21, 2009 – 12:58 pm

Four young men head out to America to find fame and fortune.

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

Santa Monica 1971 [no label, 2CD]

Live at the Santa Monica Civic Center, Santa Monica, January 22, 1971. Broadcast on KUSC, Los Angeles 91.5 FM. Very good mono.

After Fire And Water gave Free their first taste of superstardom with the great British single All Right Now, the band took off for the USA to roadtest their new album, Highway, released in December 1970. Once again, the commercially underrated Music From Big Pink by The Band was to have an effect on British blues.

“Highway was a very laid back album,” states Free drummer Simon Kirke, “we had broken out of 12-bar blues and had gotten heavily into Bob Dylan and The Band, especially Paul and Andy. The band’s Music From Big Pink really turned as around. But even though I loved Levon Helm’s drumming, Kossoff and I were still into the blues.”

This concert in Santa Monica, California is a mixture of tracks from Highway and the previous album, Fire And Water. The latter a heavyweight album for Free. The new single, The Stealer, was clearly no match to All Right Now.

As Kirke explained, Free and the other Brit bands were in competition with American bands to see whose music could win a bigger audience. The road was the way forward in this competition. But when Highway faltered in the sales charts, it created tension within the band. Blame was sought and found. Within four months of this concert, Free would disband for the first time in May.

“Highway was a flop,” says Kirke in the interview published in the sleeve notes of Molten Gold, “especially when compared to (the sales success of) Fire And Water. We just couldn’t take the knocks at that age. We thought, foolishly, that we should break up because no one loves us anymore. We were that naive.”

But the Santa Monica show had all the great elements of Free in one show, the blues rock of Ride On A Pony, Fire And Water and the great Mr Big while it also embraced the new rural attitude of Highway with Be My Friend, The Highway Song and Soon I Will Be Gone. Perhaps best of all, there’s a preview of their yet to be released single, My Brother Jake, that would become a UK hit. Amazingly, all three of their singles are here.

Despite their obvious talent, nagging self-doubt, the drugs and perhaps their youth worked against Free. Altogether they made seven albums and lasted just five years.

If someone has the master pre-FM tape of this show, it should be handed over for an official release. This FM version is supposedly taken from a first generation copy but the sound is not among the best. Tk 7 on CD2 sounds like an audience recording.
- The Little Chicken

With thanks to the professer for sharing this.

Note: Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality MP3s - sample rate of 192 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

These tracks are no longer available for download. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you want to download them at a later date.

Disc 1
1. Be My Friend
2. The Stealer
3. Woman
4. Ride On A Pony (some dropout on the left channel within the first minute)
5. Don’t Say You Love Me
6. All Right Now (some dropout in left channel)
7. Fire And Water
8. Heavy Load

Disc 2
1. The Highway Song (skip around 4:10)
2. My Brother Jake (DJ voiceover at start)
3. Soon I Will Be Gone
4. I’m A Mover
5. Mr Big
6. The Hunter
7. Rock Me Baby (audience recording?)

*These songs all appeared in their studio versions on the album Highway.
+These songs appeared on Fire And Water.

Paul Rodgers - vocals
Paul Kossoff - guitar
Andy Fraser - bass
Simon Kirke - drums

The December 1970 album Highway disappointed the band as it paled against the success of Fire And Water. This was the album they were promoting when they toured America in early 1971. Click on the link to order Free albums.


  2. hey bigo, thanks! i meant to put berkshire on my ipod a few days ago and forgot so this is cool. i was playing disc 1 walking and judas priest-denver 6.25.80. saw priest twice in 90 and 05. ruled.

    if a firm boot is out there, please post. a few out there might remember them from the 80’s. it was paul, jimmy page, chris slade who went on to play with ac/dc and tony franklin. not sure what either are doing now, though. my brother does have an lp firm boot he found YEARS ago.


    By Ed Saad on Aug 21, 2009

  3. Swing Auditorium was in San Bernadino, CA. If this show is in Santa Monica, CA a good chance is it’s from The Santa Monica Civic Center.

    By ReV RuSSeLL on Aug 21, 2009

  4. thanks rev! when i get disc 2, i’ll put san bernadino, ca, since it does say swing auditorium, and i already put that it in itunes, but i don’t fully label them till i get the whole show.


    By Ed Saad on Aug 21, 2009

  5. hey bigo, i looked on the net for this show, and somebody had it on guitar forums. they have santa monica civic auditorium and same date so i guess so itunes won’t scatter the tracks when i get disc 2, put swing auditorium then change it once i fully fix it.


    By Ed Saad on Aug 22, 2009

  6. Thanks to Rev Russell and Ed Saad for the feedback and comments. Have also amended the artwork. Cheers.

    By bigozine2 on Aug 22, 2009

  7. Thank you for this. A good show by the sound of it. I didn’t know they even played songs like “Don’t Say You Love Me”, “Highway Song” and “Soon I Will Be Gone” live.

    “Heavy Load” I heard before from a - presumably - more intimate setting in Stockholm. I assume the Civic Center took a larger crowd?

    By Kalle K on Aug 28, 2009

  8. Too bad this is so tinny sounding. Would have been a great one but its still not THAT bad. After Highway I stopped listening to Free although At Last was pretty good. Highway was my favorite though! First rate songs with more depth and maturity but minus the Koss solos.

    By lanzarishi on Apr 7, 2010

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