May 24, 2011 – 12:30 pm

BBC Top Gear 1968

Live at Studio 1, London, UK; July 15, 1968. Broadcast on BBC Top Gear with John Peel on July 21, 1968. Very good FM.

A big round of applause and thanks to Olvator for sharing these tracks on Dime.

This is what Olvator noted:
This is the earliest known recorded FREE live performance ever. On July 15, 1968, even before they recorded “Tons of Sobs” (October 1968), FREE did a session/audition for BBC radio. In the end, the result seemed to be OK for BBC and so it got broadcast a few days later on Top Gear with John Peel. The band recorded four songs, but “Waiting On You” has been released officially. Most of you would know it anyway. But these remaining three tracks have not been around too much I think (neither have they ever been officially released), so here they are. Free Me stands out the most, if not only for it being an early version of the song, much faster and with a different arrangement.

[Drummer] Simon Kirke remembers:
“I think that was one of the biggest moments of my life. I know it must have been for Koss. We recorded it on a Wednesday, I think, and it came out on Sunday afternoon. We all got round to the radio to listen. We were all saying “Oh that was too slow” or, “we should have done this”. I think the four songs were interspersed in the programme. At the end Peel said, “I think we’re going to hear a lot more from that band”. It was thrilling.”

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality MP3s - sample rate of 224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Waiting on You - Omitted*
Track 01. Walk In My Shadow (5.7MB)
Track 02. Moonshine (8.5MB)
Track 03. Free Me (early version) (4.7MB)

Speed-corrected version, thanks to John (at 106 kbps)

Track 01. Walk In My Shadow (2.8MB)
Track 02. Moonshine (4.1MB)
Track 03. Free Me (early version) (4.7MB)

* Available as one of the bonus tracks on the reissued Tons Of Sobs as well as on Live At The BBC.

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

Click on the link to order Tons Of Sobs.

Click on the link to order Live At The BBC.

  1. 17 Responses to “FREE - EARLIEST LIVE GIG 1968”

  2. After all these years Free is still (for me) the greatest of all time. Rogers was never the same after Free. Bad Co while ok was just a watered down version of Free. I haven’t had time to look yet but I know I have this in my mountain of bootlegs Still thanks for the great quality stuff. I loved Traffic,Man,and Atomic Rooster and a lot of others but for me my all time fave is Free. Koss R.I.P. Phil Winans

    By Phil Winans on May 24, 2011

  3. great band and I for one miss this sound..Where have all the great sounding rock bands gone and why are there no bands today that carry this on..Black crowes did for awhile , other than that no one I can think of.

    By sluggo on May 24, 2011

  4. Those songs are mastered one half step too high. They’re too fast. I thought it was a girl when I first heard ‘em. I’ll slow them down and send them back to you so they can be enjoyed in their original “guitar” keys.

    By John on May 24, 2011

  5. [Drummer] Simon Kirke remembers We were all saying “Oh that was too slow” or, “we should have done this”. now john says They’re too fast. why does somebody all ways have to screw with big o great work leave em alone thats half the fun of bootlegs when are you teco heads gunna start lovin the music for the music

    By dave franklin on May 25, 2011

  6. Moonshine touches deeply. Blues for grieving. Moon in a black sky - aloneness, loss, stark, sterile existence…Crying in the night - unconsolable pain of the soul. Calling to the trees to explain the scene, to give the reason why. The man is outside, looking to the moon made of stone and the trees made of wood for an answer. Stone and wood do not mutter. Jesus gave me an answer unfit for unbelievers, for they will not understand it. But here is music and words fitting for the time between the loss and the answer. Thank you Big O, Olvator, the BBC, and all of the band FREE, and who wrote this masterpiece of slow electric blues.

    By 3yrsnojob on May 25, 2011

  7. Dave: Each of these 3 songs are pitched 1/2 step higher than the recorded versions. The studio version of “Moonshine” was in A; the version on this page is Bb. Same with “Walk In My SHadow” and “Free Me”.

    The versions here therefore are “fast” because the faster a tape runs, the higher the pitch is. When you slow down the tape, it goes back to the original pitch they recorded these songs at. I hope that makes sense.

    By John on May 25, 2011

  8. Mr. BigO….send me an email address and I’ll send you these songs at the proper speed.

    By John on May 25, 2011

  9. Speed-corrected version added, thanks to John for making the effort.

    By bigozine2 on May 26, 2011

  10. Great job by John and BigO for leaving the choice to the listener. I gotta go with my namesake.

    By Johnny Kinkdom on May 30, 2011

  11. One of the best concerts I ever saw - and ive seen a lot - was when Free was supposed to open for Traffic in Baltimore in 72 or 73. The story we were told that Paul Rodgers fell down the stairs at the hotel and broke his leg. Steve Winwood came out and said that anyone who wanted to could get their money back but if we stayed they would try and make it up to us.
    They played the usual set and then took requests for another hour or so - too bad it was almost 40 years ago or might remember more details

    By Dwight Schrute on Jun 30, 2011

  12. I heard these tracks last year and I wanted to thank John for his rework. I’m curious whether he could look at the Free Paris Drouot 1969 tracks on You tube and ask him whether he feels they are running at right speed and what other means he may have at his disposal to improve the overall sound

    By Bill Flynn on Nov 9, 2012

  13. Many thanks to BigO and to John!

    By drkrick on Oct 28, 2014

  14. It’s Rodgers with a ‘d’!

    By Paul Rodgers on Oct 31, 2014

  15. A pretty lousy performance, but interesting to hear The Who in learning mode. They certainly improved across the board as musicians since this early tape. Listen to “Young Man Blues” and compare it to the incredible version on “Live at Leeds.” Thanks for posting.

    By Jania on Nov 2, 2014

  16. Sorry, I accidentally entered the above comment here instead of in the 1964 show by The Who.

    By Jania on Nov 3, 2014


    By darth on Mar 18, 2015

  18. and only because i cant find any molly hatchet gigs to post it on -

    By darth on Mar 18, 2015

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