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Freedom's Children - Galactic Vibes CD (album) cover


Freedom's Children


Heavy Prog

3.32 | 26 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Freedom's Children were a band from South Africa that formed in the sixties. Initially a part of the psychedelic movement, they became domestically famous for their fuzz-toned guitar covers of songs like "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and other popular guitar hits. Their early concerts were advertised to feature 30-minute freak outs. Being South African led to problems for the band with such a bold name that appeared to challenge authority. Their first album "Astra" had to be released under the band name Fleadom's Children. They began recording music for the second album but feeling stifled in South Africa, they moved to the U.K. before the album was complete. The record company decided to finish it for them and hired guest vocalists to sing the songs and added horns to some of the songs. All this was done without the band's consent.

Being from South Africa delivered more problems for the band in the U.K. Because of their home country's apartheid policies, South Africans found it difficult to get work. Eventually Freedom's Children began making headway, and by 1971 they released their third album, "Galactic Vibes".

Freedom's Children may be regarded as both a progressive band and a heavy rock band. This album features both styles of music, albeit the progressive side is not similar to the giants of prog in the early seventies. It is more accessible and not so experimental or bold.

The first track "Sea Horse" is very loud hard rock. It makes a good start to the album, but as many bands in the day often put their heaviest rocker as track one, it does make you wonder if this is going to be the only one in this style.

Recorded live, "The Homecoming", begins as another heavy guitar rock song. Three minutes in, the song part ends and there is a 1-minute instrumental followed by a 3-minute guitar solo. Then comes a 7-minute drum solo. It might be a very good drum solo for all I can tell. The thing is that so many bands around this time felt it was necessary to include drum solos that I find it tedious to listen to them now. The main complaint I have is that any other "solo", be it guitar, keyboards, flute, saxophone, violin, or whatever, will usually be played to background music. Why is it that drum solos have to be exactly that: drums only? Ginger Baker's "Toad" was good, and I really like Ron Bushy's drum solo in "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" because he makes it rhythmic and musical, not just an assault on every piece of percussive instrument set before him. So this drum solo is perhaps a good one but it's a long one. After the solo the song returns and ends soon. It's rather a good song and so I wish they had recorded a studio version with about 8 minutes of soloing, both guitar and drums, removed.

Side two opens with "That Did It" which is even a heavier rocker than "Sea Horse". It is often included on proto metal and early hard and heavy rock playlists on YouTube. The vocals sound borderline hysteric in some moments. Great heavy rock!

"Fields and Me" begins with, oh no, a drum solo again? No. It quickly switches to an acoustic number with a very pretty melody. An orchestra joins. Beautiful composition. The vocals could be a little more in tune in moments but generally they do a good job of delivering the melody and emotion. Here, however, the production becomes an issue. It's not so clean at the louder moments with the orchestra and sounds like a live recording. Actually the whole album sounds like the master tapes were either dusty or the studio's equipment couldn't handle higher volume well. This is not bad for the heavy rockers as it adds to the distortion and energy. But this more beautiful music suffers somewhat.

"The Crazy World of Pod" is a bizarre psychedelic spacey sound experiment. I often wonder what the point of these ventures were. Should we drop acid first in order to appreciate it better? Thankfully it's only just over two minutes.

The next track "1999" is closer to a pop number. It has a country groove but with a guitar that sounds oddly like early new wave. Again the sound quality is not so good. It's more like a 1978 demo except the chorus which resembles some of the tracks from Episode Six's "Corn Flakes and Crazy Foam" double album of demos and poorly recorded live performances. Icecross recorded a song called "1999" around the same time and it's much more interesting and great a proto metal song, too!

The album closer is "About the Dove and His King". It's another song with vocals and orchestra. It seems that the sound quality is getting worse in places and both the louder and softer parts sound like some four track demo at times. Not a bad effort musically but the sound should be cleaner.

The biggest problem is the sound quality. It may be alright for the rockers but especially the orchestral parts are hurting. The CD comes with a detailed history of the band which can be found verbatim on a web site about South African music. The author claims that, hyperbole aside, this may have been the greatest band that the world never got to know. I do think the album has some great moments and in particular I enjoy "Sea Horse" and "That Did It" and also most of "Fields and Me". But for the band to have made a bigger impression, I think they should have presented their music with a cleaner sound and worked a bit more on the vocals which do go off the note occasionally in the slower songs.

The copy I have doesn't include all the additional songs listed in the track list above. Perhaps that version has been cleaned up better?

FragileKings | 3/5 |


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