Freedom : Born Again: The Complete Recordings 1967 – 1972 : 5CD Box Set Review

Rediscovering the Magic of Freedom: A Deep Dive into Their Complete Albums Box Set

As the iconic “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” was setting the tone for the summer of 1967, a seismic shift occurred within the ranks of the emerging band, Procol Harum. Guitarist Ray Royer and drummer Bobby Harrison found themselves on a new path, parting ways with the group. With the funds from their Procol exit, they embarked on a fresh musical journey, aptly naming their new venture, Freedom.

Freedom’s initial foray into the music scene was marked by their soundtrack for the provocative Italian film, Nerosubianco (also known as Black And White). This was followed by a few standalone singles. However, not everything was smooth sailing. Harrison, seeking a different sound, revamped Freedom into a dynamic power trio.

This rejuvenated version of Freedom released their sophomore album, “Freedom At Last.” While it didn’t see a UK release, it marked the band’s transition from their psychedelic roots to a more robust, blues-infused sound. Their musical journey continued with three more albums, two of which were under the Vertigo label. Alongside their album releases, they shared stages with the likes of Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull. However, by the end of 1972, Harrison decided to chart a new course, leading the band Snafu.

Now, for the first time, we present “Born Again: The Complete Recordings 1967-72.” This anthology encapsulates the entirety of Freedom’s legacy. From their five studio albums to their standalone singles, alternative takes, and more, everything is compiled in a sleek clamshell box. Each album is represented with a miniature replica of its original cover. The collection is further enriched with rare photographs and an in-depth 5000-word essay, shedding light on the band’s storied journey. Dive in and rediscover the magic of Freedom.

If you’ve ever come across the 1970 Probe sampler “Handle With Care,” you might remember the Spider cover and the eclectic mix of bands it featured, from Steppenwolf to BB King. But today, we’re focusing on one band in particular: Freedom.

Inside the Box: A Musical Treasure Trove

Thanks to the diligent folks at Cherry Red Records, we now have the “Freedom: Born Again – The Complete Recordings 1967-1972” box set. This collection is a comprehensive look into the band’s evolution, capturing their essence across five CDs.

The box set is meticulously designed, with each CD detailing the tracks on the back. The clamshell box also houses a booklet, rich with the band’s history, rare photographs, and memorabilia from their heyday. It’s a deep dive into the world of Freedom, from their initial days as “The Freedom” to their later ventures.

The Albums

The first album in the collection is the soundtrack “Nuova Bianco,” showcasing the band’s early sound. As we progress through the albums, we witness the band’s transition from psychedelia to hard rock. The third album, simply titled “Freedom,” is a personal favorite, boasting a raw, hard rock sound reminiscent of the ’70s. The subsequent albums, “Through the Years” and “More Than a Word,” showcase the band’s versatility and evolution, with the latter featuring tracks that echo the vibes of iconic bands like, Humble Pie, Keef Hartley Band and Led Zeppelin in places.

Why Freedom Matters

For many, Freedom might be a new discovery, a band overshadowed by the giants of their time. But their music, filled with gritty vocals, bluesy undertones, and exceptional guitar work, makes them stand out. Their journey, from being featured on samplers to releasing their own albums, is a testament to their talent and resilience.

The inclusion of tracks like “Going Down” and “Brain Box Jam” in the collection highlights the band’s growth as musicians. While they might not have set the world on fire with chart-topping hits, their contribution to the rock music landscape of the ’70s is undeniable.

A Timeless Collection for 2023

In today’s age, it’s easy to overlook bands like Freedom, but thanks to Grapefruit Records and Cherry Red, we have the opportunity to rediscover and appreciate their musical genius. This box set is more than just a collection of CDs; it’s a time capsule, a tribute to a band that, despite the odds, left an indelible mark on the world of rock music.

So, if you’re a fan of early ’70s rock or just looking to explore a hidden gem, I highly recommend diving into the world of Freedom with this box set. Happy listening!

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Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine

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