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Kossoff, Paul: Back Street Crawler-Deluxe Edition (remaster)

The story of guitar hero Paul Kossoff is an extremely sad one-thrust into the spotlight with Free as a teenager and worshipped as one of the late 60's/early 70's 'guitar gods', Kossoff succumbed to years of drug abuse and died way too young at 25 in 1976. Back Street Crawler is the only solo album he ever released, which came out shortly after the final Free album Heartbreaker. By this time, Kossoff's addictions to Mandrax, heroin, and alcohol were well out of control, and listening to Back Street Crawler's long, rambling jams, one can see how the guitarist was unable to put together any real 'songs', and used the album more as an excuse to show the world he could still play, despite all his personal demons taking over his life.

So yes, Back Street Crawler is an example of guitar over-indulgence, but it's a good one nevertheless. Opening cut "Tuesday Morning" is a near 18-minute instrumental jam with Kossoff laying down plenty of searing leads and fat, chunky riffs. If you listen closely to the opening minutes, you can almost hear the riffs that would later float into Bad Company for the song "Good Lovin' Gone Bad", and overall there's some great stuff going on throughout this epic track, though you can hear some mistakes along the way. For the most part, Kossoff is at his 'stinging' best, and the solid Hammond work from Rabbit and Alan White's nimble drum work really work well alongside the plethora of guitar acrobatics. Jess Rodan turns in a fine vocal performance on the blues/funk of "I'm Ready", while "Molten Gold" is a leftover from the Free sessions for Free At Last, and features the entire Free band. Paul Rodgers delivers a great vocal on this one, and Kossoff is at the top of his game. One of the most memorable tunes here is the instrumental "Time Away", a real scorcher of a track, with some of the most yearning, searing guitar work you'll ever hear. If you want to understand the essence of Paul Kossoff, the vibrato, the tone, the emotion, it's all here on "Time Away". Title track "Back Street Crawler" is a rocking tune with tasty guitar licks and rollicking honky tonk piano from Rabbit, and that ends the original release part of the set.

CD 1 continues with six more takes on the "Tuesday Morning" theme, all of them different and played with a varied feel, which for most might be overkill, but if you're a Kossoff completist, you have to have them. CD 2 features more alternate takes and leftovers, the highlights being a short vocal/piano/organ take on "The Lady Is a Tramp", a full 10 minute version of "I'm Ready" (which has a real Allman Brothers Band meets Wet Willie feel to it), the funky fusion instrumental "Leslie Jam", and the extended, near 39-minute original version of "Time Away", which was actually recorded as part of a John Martyn session that Kossoff worked on. This is the perfect representation of what a 'long jam' is all about-Kossoff, along with Simon Kirke, Tetsu Yamauchi, and Martyn fiddling about for over 38 minutes. Just a small sampling of this jam was used for the Back Street Crawler album, and it's probably the best section too (towards the end) but it's cool to hear the whole jam in its entirety. Martyn's echoplexed guitar patterns provide the landscape for Kossof to launch his blues-rock wailings, while Tetsu and Kike lay down a delicate rhythm. To hear this one go through all sorts of peaks and valleys is actually quite fascinating.

As with all these Universal Deluxe Editions, you get great sounding remastered CDs, fold out digibook packages, and a great booklet stocked with photos, essays, and information on the artists and sessions. Looking at the cover photograph and most of the shots of Kossoff, it's pretty obvious what a bad state he was in while this album was being put together, and only a few short years after he was gone from this world, sadly, well before he could reinvent himself once again with his band Back Street Crawler, who he named after this solo album. That band had tons of potential, and could have possibly reached the levels of Free, but by that point Kossoff had reached the end of his rope and it was not to be. Though there is a only a limited amount of material that this guitar great left behind, what he did is nothing short of remarkable and will be savored by rock fans for ages to come.

Track Listing
Disc 1
1. Tuesday Morning
2. I'm Ready
3. Time Away
4. Molten Gold
5. Back Street Crawler
6. Tuesday Morning [Early Take 1]
7. Tuesday Morning [Early Take 2]
8. Tuesday Morning Blues
9. Tuesday Morning Groove
10. Tuesday Morning Boogie
11. Tuesday Morning Piano Jam
1. I'm Ready [Take 4]
2. Lady is a Tramp, The
3. I'm Ready [Take 10 Full Version]
4. May You Never
5. Leslie Jam
6. Time Away Tthe Complete Jam]
7. Molten Gold (Burnin') [Take 1]
8. Molten Gold [Songs of Yesterday Version]
9. Back Street Crawler (Don't Need You No More) [Single Guitar Track Number 14]

Added: May 19th 2010
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Paul Kossoff @ Wikipedia
Hits: 4676
Language: english

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