Free Fire and Water (Island) Free, Britain's most undervalued classic rock band, are mainly known for their big hit, the strident and anguished All Right Now, and for singer Paul Rodgers' recent collaboration with Queen. But a solid body of work from the late 1960s and early 70s demonstrates Free's understanding of American blues, and their skill at turning it into a uniquely British form of hard rock. Fire and Water, released in 1970, is their third and finest album. Free's members paid their dues on the London pub rock circuit in the mid-60s. They were all excellent musicians by the time they got together in 1968. Paul Kossoff, a classically trained guitarist, was an expressive instrumentalist who played in a slow, mournful fashion. Kossoff had developed a vibrato technique that sounded so soulful that even Eric Clapton couldn't do it. Rodgers (right) had a guttural voice that spoke of pure emotion, while bassist Andy Fraser played the instrument with the fluidity of a lead guitarist. Drummer Simon Kirke made up the quartet. Fire and Water is a melancholy LP that lives up to its elemental title. It's often quiet and slow, yet some subtle dynamics give it a raw power. Free were essentially a live band so they kept overdubs to a minimum in the studio. Like Led Zeppelin, their brilliance laid in their musicianship and their understanding of each other's playing styles. Kossoff's sob-inducing guitar is always the high point, but it would mean less without the exceptional material written by Rodgers (above) and bassist Fraser. The seven songs blend together to form a panoply of loss, pain and sorrow. All Right Now closes the set. Although it suffers from over-familiarity - it's played at least once a day on classic rock radio stations in the US - it still stands as a masterpiece. Rodgers' vocal is so pained, and Kossoff's guitar so full of suffering, it's a wonder it became popular in the first place. Oh I Wept, Remember and Heavy Load, with its mellow guitar solo, form the quieter parts of the LP. The louder Mr Big, with its staccato drums, became a showcase for drummer Kirke. The title track is an angry love song that features some terse guitar from Kossoff. Free drifted into a sea of woes after Fire and Water. Kossoff became mired in heroin use and left the band a number of times. Free split up but reformed in an attempt to save Kossoff from his addiction. His habit proved too strong to break, and he once again left the group, dying of an overdose in 1976. Free's final album Heartbreaker, recorded without him in 1973, still passes muster. Rodgers and Kirke went on to use Free's raw sound to form the highly successful Bad Company in 1974. Rodgers has more recently achieved fame as the occasional frontman for Queen.