FREE Wishing Well
Richard Barrett takes a look at this latterday Free classic with tips on tone and technique, plus a full transcription and backing track.
This classic Free track has the lot: great riffs, fantastic feel, cool tones, neat progression and a tasty but not-so-difficult-to-play Paul Kossoff solo. Just toss in a coin and off you go!
Recorded during the sessions for their final album Heartbreaker in late 1972, Wishing Well remains one of Free’s most enduring hits – even though it’s far from typical when compared to the majority of their previous output. Their unique blend of soul and rock had usually been topped with Paul Rodgers’ peerless vocals and Paul Kossoff’s extraordinary guitar skills – all in the context of stripped down arrangements, with minimal use of effects or other ‘modern’ production techniques.
On this track, we find a much bigger sounding line-up featuring multi-layered harmony vocals awash with reverb; heavier, more simplistic guitar powerchords and a dense, complex mix that must have seemed very modern indeed when it was released in 1973. There are several reasons why we’re hearing such a different band to the one that recorded Fire And Water and All Right Now a couple of years earlier. Bassist Andy Fraser had left in mid 1972 – not only was his style extremely distinctive, but he had co-written some of the biggest hits with Paul Rodgers. John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick had joined full-time on keyboards, helping to fill the gap left by Paul Kossoff’s often inconsistent performances, caused by his declining health and worsening struggle with drug addiction.
This is almost certainly the reason Kossoff’s taut, inventive rhythm guitar is absent from this particular track. There doesn’t appear to be a definitive musician’s listing for Wishing Well. In fact, Kossoff is not credited as having played on it at all! He appears on the album’s credits as an additional musician, however, contemporary accounts, including the first-hand memories of drummer Simon Kirke, indicate that Kossoff did indeed play the lead guitar. It’s certainly in keeping with his soulful, economic style. It seems the rhythm guitars were tracked by both Paul Rodgers and ‘Snuffy’ Walden (who would later become a very successful film and TV composer – anyone remember The Wonder Years?).
There are alternative mixes out there, including one with Snuffy Walden taking the solo in place of Kossoff, but our GT version is modelled after the classic UK single release. Due to the multiple guitar overdubs, we’ve arranged the transcription to combine the main points of the rhythm guitar with the overdubbed lead fills and solo – in much the same way you would to play through in a single ‘pass’ for a live performance.
We’ve left one of the rhythm guitars on the backing mix (panned slightly to the right, as on the original track) to help recreate the ‘wall of sound’ and give support for the solo parts. These appear to have been played, or processed, using a Leslie rotating speaker cab, more traditionally associated with the Hammond organ. You can still hear traces of Paul’s famous vibrato through the effect – almost impossible to copy, but we’ve done our best! The primary objective is to play with the utmost commitment and this will get you closer to the sound required here than any elusive setting on amps or effects. Go for it and have fun!