Fontella Bass – 1972 – Free (The Paula Recordings)
Fontella Bass will always be remembered for her hit Rescue Me. That didn’t mean she didn’t record anything else of quality afterwards, just that it didn’t make the charts. Free is a perfect example of her post Rescue Me work. Most of the tracks are mellow Soul with a Southern feel to them. The best of those is the powerful delivery and message of Talking About Freedom. In between are some more upbeat and really catchy cuts like “Hold On This Time” and “I Need To Be Loved”. Oliver Sain, who Bass use to sing with, produced the album.
1 To Be Free (3:59)
2 Hold on This Time (2:28)
3 I Want Everyone to Know (3:05)
4 I Need to Be Loved (2:31)
5 Talking About Freedom (3:23)
6 I Need Love (2:33)
7 Wiping Tears (2:24)
8 Now That I’ve Found a Good Thing (2:46)
9 Who You Gonna Blame (2:46)
10 It Sure Is Good (2:49)
11 I’m Leaving the Choice to You (3:06)
12 Home Wrecker (3:32)
13 It’s Hard to Get Back In (2:54)
14 My God, My Freedom, My Home (3:43)
15.Rescue Me [New Version] (2.46)
Original Free album brown tracks.
White tracks are bonus.
Very righteous work from Fontella Bass – an album done after her time at Chess Records, and after her work in Paris with the Art Ensemble Of Chicago – in a heartfelt, southern soul mode that’s totally great! Fontella’s back working with producer Oliver Sain, who first brought her fame back in the 60s – but the sound is a bit more sophisticated than before, drenched with roots from gospel and country soul, but also inflected with some of the more righteous modes of the early 70s too. Fontella’s vocals are incredible – with a range that should have made her one of the leading ladies of soul in the 70s.
If Fontella Bass’ “Rescue Me” is the best soul single that Aretha Franklin never made, then Free is the lost classic that deserves space in any record collection housing worn-out copies of the Queen of Soul’s I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You and Spirit in the Dark. Reuniting Bass with producer Oliver Sain, who helmed her classic mid-’60s sides for Chess, Free draws on the singer’s gospel roots to forge a deeply spiritual and moving examination of post-civil rights America. Cuts like “To Be Free,” “Talking About Freedom,” and “My God, My Freedom, My Home” showcase the remarkable power and poignancy of Bass’ vocals, couched beautifully by Sain’s nuanced, blues-inspired arrangements. This excellent, well-annotated reissue includes the original 1972 Free LP in its entirety along with four bonus tracks — excellent stuff from a singer unjustly dismissed as a one-hit won.