All Right Now is the ultimate British expression of the blues-rock explosion of the late 1960s and the hard rock movement of the early 1970s. Arguably, All Right Now is also the signature tune of Free, consisting of Paul Rodgers (vocals), Paul Kossoff (guitar), Simon Kirke (drums) and Andy Fraser (bass).
The song, released in 1970, hit #2 on the UK singles chart and #4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Featured on Fire and Water, the band’s third studio album which became the band’s breakthrough, achieving widespread commercial success.
With its distinctive repetitious two-chord riff, the song is built more on the blank spaces between melodies than anything else. Kirke’s powerhouse drumming drives the song forward, hooked into Kossoff’s guitar while Fraser’s fluid bass finds the spaces around the guitar-drum combination.
Rodgers is renowned as one of the best rock vocalists of all time. His vocal delivery is visceral and urgent, while the lyrics themselves are rather trite, Rodgers expresses them with passion and authenticity. The chorus is simply banal as “all right now” is repeated meaninglessly. The song was written largely by Fraser with melodic contributions from Rodgers.
But All Right Now is not a cerebral discourse on the vagaries on love. It’s rock ’n’ roll and therefore it’s all about sex. While on record, the song can come across a tad muted, it’s on the Free Live album that All Right Now truly comes alive.
And that version for me is the definitive one and has been burned into my memory from the first time I heard it as a teenager. For the general public, All Right Now might now be considered a one-hit wonder as Free’s reputation was mainly built on that one song.
All Right Now was the high point of Free’s career. Lineup changes were brought on due to drug abuse (Kossoff) and creative differences and the band’s popularity declined. Free disbanded in 1973, with Rodgers and Kirke going to form the successful Bad Company. Kossoff sadly died in 1976 and Fraser continued to play in several bands without great success.
… still there’s more …