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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Free Boxed Set from Island, 5 Jan. 2003
This review is from: Songs Of Yesterday (Audio CD)
What can I say that other reviewers haven't already said? This package has been very sexily put together, from the glossy box to the restored recordings themselves, which sound like they were recorded last week! There's also a comprehensive history of the band in a full colour booklet. I'd like to thank Island for the time and, ultimately, money they spent on this project. I can't imagine it having made them much profit as Free's "fans" must be dwindling in number by now! This package is without doubt the best in my collection. I'm a lifelong Beatles fan, but I enjoyed the Free stuff much more than I did the Beatles' Anthology. If you're a Free fan, stop dithering and buy it now! I'm sure it'll be out of print soon.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent representation of the appeal of this band!, 28 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Songs Of Yesterday (Audio CD)
For lovers of Free, this is as good as it gets! I still have a copy of each one of their albums on vinyl as well as the entire collection on CD, from the Island Masters. But, this collection of music is for those of us who aren't necessarily interested in the "commercial" appeal of this band. These CD's give us the full spectrum of Free music, regardless of whether or not it will sell on radio, and it is long overdue! Thank you, and again thank you for all of your diligent efforts in making available to us this wonderful tribute to one of the most overlooked bands of Blues/Rock that ever existed. As Phil Sutcliffe writes in the last paragraph, on page 51 of his excellent summary, "Forget the Stones, forget the Beatles,...etc. The Greatest Band That Ever Lived was Free."
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Sublime, 15 Sept. 2005
By 
This review is from: Songs Of Yesterday (Audio CD)
Despite being only six years old when they formed, I was always aware of Free, and can recall being regarded as a bit of a freak at primary school, because I liked their singles when all my class-mates preferred the Osmonds. I suppose it's fitting in a way that the world's first boy-band should have had so young a fan, even though I could not appreciate why I liked them so much.
But it was really my brother who was into them, and so I heard a lot more of them than just the singles. He would buy the albums as each one came out, and play them incessantly. He would also bang on interminably to anyone who cared to listen (and to those who did not) about the extraordinary talent of the band (guess what, he still does!). Meanwhile, the songs registered somewhere in my sub-conscious.
I'm now in my forties, and have found myself more and more drawn back to the music that shaped my formative years. I can now listen to Free and truly understand how great they were. My brother has been threatening to lend me this collection for weeks, & finally, the other week, I got my hands on it. I haven't been able to stop listening to it, nor have I wanted to listen to anything else.
By the time I'd finished reading Phil Sutcliffe's narrative, I was in tears. There has never been a musical force as potent, yet ultimately so unfulfilled, as theirs, and the tragedy is not just the loss of Kossoff, a fragile, emotional child inside a man's body, but the loss of what Free could have achieved together if they had been able themselves to understand how good they were.
To anyone whose knowledge of the band is limited to "All Right Now", please listen to "Songs of Yesterday". If you do, you may just discover that this song, great though it is, is not even close to being their best work.
Ultimately, I don't think I have in me the words to do justice to Free. The nearest I think I can get is to say that they are not just registered in my subconscious, they are burned deep into my soul.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real labour of love, 8 Jun. 2006
By 
Mr. S. K. Pomroy (Ipswich, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Songs Of Yesterday (Audio CD)
I am a huge fan of Free (despite being just five years old when they split in '73) so it goes without saying that this treasure trove is utterly essential for me and I have owned a copy since it came out way back when. The reason for writing these comments now is that I have recently been pondering on the boxed sets that I own and came to the conclusion that, for many reasons, this is a very special one indeed. This is NOT a simple case of bias on my part either. I wouldn't say that this set is for everybody. For the more casual or curious fan I would recommend 2005's superb "Chronicles¨ CD as a pretty definitive collection of the band's best work . The reason being is that Songs of Yesterday is made up entirely of alternative takes/mixes of existing material plus rare or unreleased tracks - no, you will NOT find either of the two most famous versions of All Right Now on here. What you get is the band's FIRST attempt at the song! As with most of these "Anthology" type albums, some of the songs are fantastic, while others should have probably remained on the cutting room floor! But overall the standard is very high and the alternative versions of the songs you know compare very favourably to the original releases.

What stands out for me about this collection is the sheer effort, thought and love that has gone into it. The attention to detail is phenomenal. For example:
- Information on each and every track.
- The effort that has gone into finding and selecting the tracks
- The technology used to bring out the best in them (especially prevalent on the "live" CD, where clicks and sonic problems that rendered the tracks unusable for 1971's "Free Live¨ album have been removed
- The ordering of the tracks on the Live CD to try to represent the running order of a Free gig of that era
- The intelligently written essay, lavishly illustrated, that comes with the set (including a "sessionography" for the real obsessives!)

In short, this is an amazing package. Beautifully done in every way, it is clear that this was so much more than just an attempt to make a quick buck, constructed by people who really care about the band and who want to share their passion with others. Free were a fantastic band who burned out far too soon and this package is a fitting tribute to what they were and what they could have been.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT ROCK IS ALL ABOUT, 8 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Songs Of Yesterday (Audio CD)
I was very pleased to hear early versions of many Free songs previously featured on regular CD's and many great songs that couldn't make it on any album. I was particulary surprised with "Woman by the sea" (early version of "Remember"), and "The worm" is a great song that sounds a little like Cream. The "live" CD is amazing, I was stonned on Paul Kossoff's solo on "Don't say you love me" and their fabulous interpretation of "Crossroads". The fifth CD is also very good, with some post-Free songs, Paul Rodgers singing with "Peace" the song "Like water" (latter recorded by Bad Company). As a Paul Rodgers and Free fan I'm satisfied completely with the box set, it's excellent. Mario Elizondo.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Free fanatics, 10 Sept. 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Songs Of Yesterday (Audio CD)
This compilation is really only for diehard Free fans like me frustrated that Free disbanded far too soon (the end of eternity would have been all too soon). Essentially it is complied mostly of alternative mixes and takes, warts and all. In fact, a few of the tracks are quite painful! For those that want a "Best of Free" collection I would recommend "Free Story" as a starting point.
However, it is interesting to hear some of the material that was obviously an early take on the development of a great song. There are gems as well, a number of live tracks including a blistering "Heartbreaker" and a much punchier version of "The Stealer"
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Box of Magic, 18 Jun. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Songs Of Yesterday (Audio CD)
I have just bought this CD set. As a lifelong fan of Free, Bad Company and especially Paul Rodgers, I feel this CD set has been far too long in the making. Although I have the majority of the tracks on their albums, its as though I have never heard them before. The 'previously unreleased' versions of All Right Now, Wishing Well and Guardian of the Universe are an absolute must to hear Rodgers at his blues best. Kossoff and Fraser complementing each others guitar in perfect time, and tune. Simon Kirk is a highly underrated drummer, and is up there with the likes of Ian Paice (Deep Purple) and Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden).
If you are a Free fan, this is a compulsory purchase...your collection is not complete without it. If you are not a Free fan, give this a whirl, and you soon will be.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars British Blues doesn't get better than this!, 24 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Songs Of Yesterday (Audio CD)
This 5 cd box set represents the fruits of two years effort by Dave Clayton of the Free Appreciation Society to bring these gems to an unworthy public! The remixes, previously unreleased tracks (including an album of live material) are an aural delight. It sounds so fresh, so (at times) innocent. Yet through it all we have the sagger of Paul Rodgers, the inventive bass lines of (teenage) Andy Fraser, Simon Kirkes' no-nonsense drumming, and the inimitable guitar playing of the late, great, Paul Kossoff (just listen to the full version of "The Stealer" - blistering!). This is so good how can you be without it? Simply magic. Amazing to think Paul Rodgers is on in London in June!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A treasure trove of great music.............peerless, 16 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Songs Of Yesterday (Audio CD)
It's difficult to give a true appreciation of this box set without getting dangerously close to cliche & hyperbole but here goes...

This is no ordinary box set; it contains so many "previously unreleased" tracks, such as Honky Tonk Women or Long Tall Sally, or alternative versions of released tracks that it's like discovering a whole raft of new Free material. The booklet is also detailed & informative.

This band was so special; each of the main four members was outstanding in their own way & they combined to make music that is still a joy to listen to nearly forty years later. Kossof's incredible solos, Rodgers great voice, Fraser's majestic bass playing & Kirke's economically expressive drumming made them sound like masters at the tender age of 19 or 20.

They came from an age when you had to "pay your dues" by gigging intensively (in a transit van) & doggedly pusued their love of their craft. Today's manufactured bands couldn't hold a candle to them.

I'd strongly recommend the Bad Company Anthology to accompany this & also Steve Rosen's book, Free At Last.
For me, they are as an essential a component to British music as the Beatles.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An undiscovered gem of new Free material, 3 May 2011
By 
B. Dobson "BD in Sheffield" (Sheffield England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Songs Of Yesterday (Audio CD)
Several times in the past I have bypassed this, under the mistaken impression that it's just another compilation of Free tracks to woo another £30 plus out of my wallet. Not the case!

Having seen Free live a number of times in my youth, the opportunity to hear the out-takes from the Free Live album is (on it's own) worth the purchase price of this boxed set. However the other three discs are full of excellent high quality variants of Free numbers and covers, and the sleeve notes (can we still call them this?) are comprehensive and interesting.

Fabulous - I listened to it end-to-end, and it's been constantly on the iPod, car CD player etc.
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