From the Stacks

From The Stacks: Paul Kossoff, ‘Back Street Crawler’

This might be the greatest album you’ve never heard.

You’ve heard Paul Kossoff, though: He was the hotshot guitarist behind “All Right Now’s” killer riff. Kossoff and bassist Andy Fraser formed Free after playing together as teenagers in a band named Black Cat Bones. In fact, they were still teens when they hooked up with Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke to form Free: Kossoff was only 17.

Seventeen years-old and on the brink of rock and roll stardom in London circa 1968. The drugs flowed freely, and Kossoff enjoyed them a bit too much. Only three years in, Free was on the ropes due to Kossoff’s drug problems, among other things.  They eked out another couple of years with the troubled guitarist in and out of the band, but by 1973 Free were done.

That same year, Kossoff released his first solo album, Back Street Crawler. Man, what an album. The guitarist’s distinct and influential tone is front and center throughout the entire record:

Only three years after Back Street Crawler’s release Kossoff was gone, done in by a combination of a blood clot in his leg and a high altitude flight in a pressurized cabin. He was only 26 years old.

It’s not uncommon to find this one in the bins for five bucks, but on a good day it wouldn’t be unfair to pay 20 bones for a pristine copy. Happy hunting.

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