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4.5 out of 5 stars14
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 8 November 2011
It was with deep deep joy that i found this Cd listed on Amazon recently. I had been wanting this album on Cd for the past 25 years. In fact a few years ago i purchased digital remastering software and recorded the vinyl plus all the singles i had onto Cd so i could listen to them in the car....
Anyway, here is the real thing at last and playing this instantly creates a feel good vibe.
What amazes me about this album, (the original 9 tracks) is that it still sounds as fresh as the day it was released. The band unknowingly created a set that is timeless, although very much of its time. The instrumentation is flawless and highlights the skills of the musicians. Every track is played to perfection.

Freeez can be likened to Level 42 in that both groups had amazingly talented bassists, amazngly talented keyboard players and drummers and great songs that transmitted the 'sound' or identity of that group. Both recorded a critically acclaimed first album and toured it, both were British Jazz-funk groups with real credentials and both recorded a great deal of instrumental stuff.
Level 42 took the jazz-funk baton and ran with it, developing their sound, and eventually took it to greater success, in the process building a solid fan base and having at least one hit single off each of their first few early albums.
But Freeez stalled with a series of jazz funk follow ups that they tried to repeat the success of Southern Freeez the single with; they tried to focus on vocal hit singles and went away from instrumental jazz funk which was in hindsight, a mistake.
It would have been better if they has concentrated on being an album band like Level 42 and had developed their sound over several albums. I am sure hit singles would have emerged and cemented their success. I like to imagine a Freeez on say their 6th album in 1985, with a solid back catalogue of polished jazz funk behind them, a la level 42, but it was not to be.
With no huge smash follow up to their singles Southern Freeez and Flying High happening, what resulted was a dispirited band going to the USA and letting Arthur Baker turn this jazz funk band into an electro pop outfit. Despite a huge hit with I.O.U, Freeez were, effectively dead, their musicians credentials blown out of the water and never did anything much afterwards. See my review of Gonna Get You.

Here though, their talent shines through and what still amazes me is how polished and mature it all sounds, yet still with a raw thrusting edge. This is jazz funk and indeed music of the highest order. Check out Peter Maas' incredible and in-your-face slap bass playing. Andy Stennetts arpeggio piano solo playing and the dynamic drumming of Paul Morgan.

The original LP is on disc one and also, are their follow up singles Anti-Freeez, One to One and Alone, with the 12" versions of Southern Freeez and Flying High there two.
Disc two has the complete Anti Freeez remix album there. The remixes are a bit pants and mostly ruin the orginals, trying to make them a bit more electro.
There ar also the early singles, notably Keep In Touch, and a couple of unreleased demos.
I would have preferred the track order to be dfferent, with the early singles on disc one and the follow up stuff on disc two, as i feel it would have made more sense, but its a minor quibble.
What is a surprise is that there is stuff here i had never heard.
Mountain Man is a sublime piece of jazz funk, very reminiscent of Azymuth or Incognito. What a pity Freeez didn;'t follow this direction!
Also, the singles Stay and Hot Footing it are similarly awesome.
The other stuff like Anti-freeez, and Alone isn't so pleasing as its forcing itself to be more commercial to try to get that all important hit single and as a result, loses something.
The earlier stuff is the best.
Of the previously unreleased demos. the final track Say You Will be my Lover is very very good and should have been a single. I wonder if this was originally intended for Gonna Get You?

Its great to have this album released at long last. Treasure it; i will
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on 5 December 2011
I gladly join the group of other reviewers here, who are extremely pleased that SFE have decided to finally release these treasures from the golden age of Britfunk, or as freeez called their very unique and original take on the genre `new wave jazz funk'. Contemporaries such as Level 42, Shakatak, Central Line - who have a great compilation out: The Collection, Hi-tension, Incognito, Light of the World; recommended listening: Anthology -Addicted to.. , Beggar & Co., RAH Band, UK Players, Linx (recently re-released): Intuition, Atmosfear En Trance, Morrissey Mullen, yes even Galaxy and Paul Hardcastle's Direct Drive & First Light Time Machine - The Best of 1981-83 made the years 1979-83 a treasure box of funk, jazz and dance releases. Freeez' only contenders for the 1st place as most original and unique sounding of these bands were perhaps Atmosfear.

I agree with the other reviewers that these first incarnations of freeez were far more interesting than the Gonna Get You-version, although I still love `We've Got The Juice/We Got The Jazz' and Freeezin'. Also, it would be nice to see a CD-release of Peter Maas and Paul Morgan's edition of freeez with their 1985 album `Idle Vice'. It has got some good tracks on it although sadly, it doesn't sound like reviewer "Andy" (and I) could have hoped for as he suggests that freeez might have followed Level 42's approach instead of going the NYC/Arthur Baker way. Even though this gave them their biggest hit....

By the way: if you want to actually check out a `freeez/Level 42' collaboration: try and dig up the excellent Pink Rhythm which comprised John Rocca and Andy Stennet, including other early freeez musicians. Unfortunately they only released 3 12"s during 1985, one of which, `India', has THE Mark King on bass on two tracks! A wet dream come true - and imagine what further joint efforts could have resulted in!

But back to this release: great package with both the original album, the `84 remixes and even the two interesting demos, with my favorites being the two early (Pink Rhythm label) 12"s (although I think the (remaster) sound quality of `Stay'/'Hot Footing It' is quite flat compared to the rest of this set), and the inbetween albums 12"s, notably `One To One', `Anti-Freeez' and `Alone' from 81-82. Sadly the `Anti-freeez' version included here is the short 7" version, but you can't have it all can you. On the hard-to-find "Freeez Best of" CD, the original `Alone' version with female vocals (Alison Gordon?) is included as opposed to this set's remix. A mystery to me: where did the original `Alone' version appear on vinyl anyway? Same goes for the lovely `Fly By Night' which is included here in a version I had never heard before - and with different vocals than the `84 remix. In addition, the '84 remix of `Anti-Freeez' here has a small extended drumbeat-break towards the end compared to the vinyl version. Nice!

So in my opinion the albums were almost the weakest links in freeez' production, even as good an album as `Southern Freeez' really is. I still go for the exciting twelvers from 81-82 (the album was recorded during 1980) and the two early singles. The last two minutes of 'Stay' is pure jazz-funk heaven with a great sax solo and ringing keyboard work, apparently courtesy of Jason Wright, (whatever happened to him after freeez?), not forgetting Jean-Paul `Bluey' Maunick's twanging rhythm guitar. He must have been quite a godfather on the scene back then, initializing both Light of the World, Incognito and The Warriors, plus adding to these first two freeez singles!

So what more can we possibly ask for now that SFE have finally released the two original freeez albums? More demos perhaps? And this is perhaps wishful thinking: various freeez members were involved in many side projects at the time, remix and production jobs, as well as being studio musicians. I've already mentioned Stennett and Rocca's Pink Rhythm, and even the album I own with their very special and obscure `Pictures' project, which is really worth checking out. I believe its only on vinyl (E.G. Records 1983). The `Jump' / `In the Palm of My Hand' 12" for Claire Hamill from Touchpaper, the Multivizion and Side On one-off singles? A CD of these collaborations and side-projects would be its weight worth in gold as my dearly beloved 12"s are getting worn.....

Final recommendations for further listening:
1) Joey Negro's (Dave Lee) excellent comp of extremely hard to find Brit funk stuff - freeez are also included: Backstreet Brit Funk
2) British Hustle: the Sound of British Jazz-Funk 1974-1982- another great compilation that also has freeez on it.
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on 15 October 2011
"Southern Freeze" is one of the greatest Jazz Funk tracks ever made and to find it here with the Vinyl B side version, plus the "84 remaster" is sublime. Well worth the download just for these three versions of this track.
"Flying High" has a superb, mind bending, raw funk bass line. Here it is remastered and again the album contains the excellent "84 remix."
"Flying High" does not loose it's funk integrity, merged with the 80's "Max Head Room" stutter and samples, full on drum machine, pump funk sound. If anything the bass is pumped up with steroids and sounds even more raw. The synth strings sing and the drums really bang on to punctuate the bass. Love them both.
Other tracks like "Caribbean Winter" sound almost live in the original, you can hear the bass player working overtime in real time. Just divine.
The "84 Remixes" and remastering polish these tracks, adding to the original sound not detracting from it.
Some of the best Jazz Funk tracks ever laid down, a few little gems and tasty remix remastered versions.
You HAVE to buy this album!
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on 16 November 2011
If you are a fan of freeez, then best not wait to buy this CD; copies shall not be around for ever ;-)! Freeez's first album on CD, fantastic, and no doubt soon to be a collectors item! The original recording has been remastered to the highest quality and it sounds great. The package is complete with the original album artwork plus a complete overview from John Rocca on how this album was conceived and produced. Peter Maas also provides a few paragraphs covering his memories (It is a shame not to have additional points of view from Peter imo...). Listening to this CD is frustrating 30 years on; there was so much potential in this young London band that would seem to have completely gone to the dogs during 4 years; my guess is primarily due to people ego's (John Rocca puts it down to excessive Testosterone in his linear notes ;-)!! The ideal line up? In my opinion they found it early on and gave it up too easily. John Rocca and Ingrid Mansfield Allman on vocals, Peter Maas on bass, Gordon Sullivan on Guitar, Andy Stennett on Keyboards and Paul Morgan on the drums. Add a good flute and sax player and a solid producer and they had it made. It wasn't to be! Two last points i'd like to mention. Firstly, Peter Maas on the bass, great sounds, great feel, great ideas, from a fellow bass player and fan; Peter you were cookin! Secondly, I just dig the photo of the band on a 3 up 2 down suburban street! It may have been taken on the street in front of one of their homes, and for me I just identify with it. At the time we were probably thousands of young teenagers that watched Grange Hill then did our homework in our bedrooms in such houses all across the country ;-)! Great memories, thanks for the CD reissue
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on 1 November 2011
The second of Cherry Red's Freeez reissue CDs and the team have done great job of putting together another 2CD reissue packaging, including a nice booklet, a big PLUS on the CDs is the mastering which is great with no compression or limiting - top marks for that... sound quality is excellent, if I was being really picky one track didn't sounded quite as sparkling as the rest, but that's very minor... the package includes a lot of bonus material like the "Anti-Freeez" remix set, instrumentals, and demos... NOTE there is a difference between the CD and mp3 track listings, with the CD including tracks like "Keep In Touch", which seems not to be in the amazon mp3 set, but the mp3 set does includes the excellent Side On "Magic" track which is missing from the CD, the CD is also leaves off the "One To One" (Original Mix) which is a shame, but I guess the two demo tracks looked better on the CD track listing, over another version of "One To One"... so it's a bit of a mixed bag with nice tracks missing from the CD, and if you go for mp3s you miss out on the early Freeez tracks, like "Keep In Touch"... So what about the music well I've always liked Freeez and have some of this on vinyl, the first CD is the more enjoyable of the two, the second CD starts off well, but the two demo tracks are average, and the "Anti-Freeez" remixes don't really add to the original version (at the time the "Anti-Freeez" remixes came out they seemed a bit of a cash in, and time has not improved them)... having said all that if you're thinking of buying this then please do - it's not perfect, but it should still be on your shopping list... 5 stars with minor reservations.
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on 27 February 2013
I`m the featured vocalist on Southern Freeez, which I originally
recorded in 1980-the single reached #8 in the national charts in 1981. It was great to be able to finally get it remastered on CD. Thanks
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on 2 November 2015
Southern Freeez what a Great Album this is by this British Jazz-Funk Band of the early 80s,anyway this DoubleCD is well worth having in your collection, so go and get it !

[Jazz-Funk]
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on 16 October 2013
Brought as a present, Delivered on time and good value for money. My husband was pleased with it. This was on his wish list
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on 10 October 2015
Pure 80's British jazz- funk at his best !
Similer to "the early tapes of level 42"
Buy it!
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on 2 November 2014
Takes me back to the good old days!! Think its time for a comeback (early stuff only though!!)
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