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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Free Forever'
(Free / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2010 / Eagle Rock)

Overview: One of the most heralded bands of the 1970s, Free Forever amasses archival video footage, interviews, audio, memorabilia, and other bits of the band’s history to create the ultimate fan package.

DVD: There are two discs, one with all the TV studio footage of Free and some other items, and a second disc with the entire set of Isle of Wight footage. The second disc includes material from various camera angles, so if you don't like the original edit and you have lots of patience you can mess with it. The Isle of Wight show is awesome. The band do a stripped-down set of their most crowd-pleasing songs, which was probably necessary as they were playing Sunday breakfast time. That's actually an advantage for us at home; the light's great in the morning and the band, possibly cowed by a crowd of over half a million, pulls in and plays a tight, energetic set.

Disc one starts with the legendary Beat Club footage. This was a German TV show which specialized in 1970 visuals effects like colorful trails that overlaid the picture. All Right Now is almost completely obscured by clouds, as one might have phrased it at the time. Beat Club never provided an audience, but they did provide Orange amplifiers, possibly because they needed much less video processing to be eye-wateringly psychedelic on screen. Paul Rodgers keeps his eyes closed and sings to himself; this doesn't stop him putting on a fine, heartfelt performance. The camera work is good, and for those studying the instrument techniques, there are plenty of close-ups.

The Granada Doing Their Thing show is the stand-out. This program has an audience and a lack of psychedelic effects. It also has Orange amps, but Free's own regulation black amps are standing in front of them. PR opens his eyes and sings to the audience. The band look very happy to be playing together. Mr Big kicks ass, but All Right Now is the one for guitarists to watch. Instead of the usual familiar staccato riff, for some reason PK decides to hint at the chords that stand silently behind the riff but are usually left out, turning the rhythm upside down.

The picture and camera-work are outstanding. There are some nasty flares on bright reflections and microphany (horizontal-bands of sound-on-vision) on one camera, but it comes across as cute, a visual marker that the camera, like the amp, is pre solid-state, and They Don't Make 'Em Like That Any More.

There's plenty of other material on the DVD. A lot of other tracks, including a very good-looking VHS-derived All Right Now of unknown provenance (it might tell me on the insert but the insert is so brown, wiggly-fonted and authentically hippy-looking that I can't read it) featuring the entire band looking like real rock stars, shot from below, under great stage lighting, with their long hair combed and an unusual (for them) lack of experimental beardage. I don't know if it's the traditional rock'n'roll lights or the fuzzy and warm VHS quality, but PK and PR look like the Plant and Page analogues they could have been if things were different. They look great together.

There are several sets of interviews including with Simon Kossoff, Paul's brother. Of the interviews, I will confine myself to saying that Simon Kirke has won the aging gracefully event, and is currently gorgeous (and witty). There are a couple of tributes to Koss, including a short piece of film from Simon Kossoff showing his brother and his dad (David Kossoff) eating fish 'n' chips, a lovely piece of film that works as the inverse of Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, a brief look at two connected people eating in a diner, doubly poignant when one reflects how PK died, insecure and lonely, a few years later.

I've tried not to gush too much about Kossoff's guitar playing here. I can't spend too much time saying how great he is, as the one thing that jumps out during this DVD is that the whole band is great; each one of them is way above proficient. It's unbelievable that all four could just meet more or less by accident and all be so good. What a shame it didn't last! [HW] This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.