"Loving And Free" - Kiki Dee's debut LP for Elton John's newly formed Rocket Records was issued in December 1973 on Rocket PIGL 5. This June 2008 remaster is the first of six albums she recorded between 1973 and 1987 being re-issued - and a cracker it is too.
Two singles came off the album at the time - with one other single issued 3 years later as a belated hit. "Lonnie & Josie" b/w "Last Good Man In My Life" was the first with both tracks written by ELTON JOHN and BERNIE TAUPIN; it was released in late 1973 on Rocket PIG 2, but unfortunately it went the same as her earlier singles - it didn't chart. The b-side though has long been sought after by collectors as a non-album JOHN/TAUPIN track unavailable anywhere else - it makes its CD debut on this 2008 release. Apparently it was an outtake from the "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" sessions.
The second 7" single, however, finally hit pay dirt. "Amoureuse" b/w ""Rest My Head" (both from the album) was UK released in November 1973 on Rocket PIG 4 just before the album's release the following month. A beautiful song - it was an immediate hit with the public. Written by French singer VERONIQUE SANSON, its plaintive melody had lyrics added to it by the British composer GARY OSBOURNE. "Rest My Head" is a Kiki Dee original. "Amoureuse" peaked at Number 13 in the UK and introduced Kiki's great voice to the public. It really was a career-maker.
"Loving and Free" (or sometimes referred to as the "Kiki Dee" EP) was finally released a 4-track EP in a Picture Sleeve in September 1976 on Rocket ROKN 515. It followed on the back of the huge number 1 success of the "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" duet with ELTON earlier in June and July of that year. Its 4 tracks are: "Loving And Free", "Amoureuse", "I've Got The Music In Me" and "(You Don't Know) How Glad I Am". Why it wasn't released immediately after "Amoureuse" is anyone's guess?
The album's 10 tracks were famously produced by ELTON JOHN with his house band of DAVEY JOHNSTONE on Guitars, DEE MURRAY on Bass and NIGEL OLSSEN on Drums featuring on many of the songs. Elton himself provided Keyboards and Backing Vocals on seven out of the album's ten tunes (he's also on the non-album b-side). GERRY CONWAY and DAVE MATTACKS of FAIRPORT CONVENTION fame filled in the drums on other tracks with LESLIE DUNCAN of "Love Song" fame providing backing vocals on the superb Kiki original "If It Rains". "Travellin' In Style" is a FREE cover, "Song For Adam" is a JACKSON BROWNE cover introduced to Kiki by Elton, while she gives a very soulful rendition of "You Put Something Better Inside Me", a Gerry Rafferty/Joe Egan written STEALER'S WHEEL song. "Supercool" is the third exclusive JOHN/TAUPIN track - a rocker - though not as good as the better b-side "Last Good Man In My Life". The second and last bonus track "Six Days On the Road" is a previously unreleased raucous cover of Dave Dudley's 1963 hit. It's very good too.
The booklet is excellent - rare 7" single sleeves pictured, photos of Kiki from the time, a knowledgeable CHRIS WHITE synopsis of the album - details of the sessions - its far more comprehensive than I thought it would be. Special mention should also be made of the EMI's REMASTERING done by GEOFF PESCHE at Abbey Road Studios. The sound is just GORGEOUS - and I mean that - really clear - and full. "Loving And Free" and its beautiful guitar work by PAUL KEOGH now sounds astonishing - a treat to hear it given the respect it deserves. Penned by Kiki (real name Pauline Matthews) - it's a criminally forgotten classic of the period and an undeniably beautiful love song.
A minor downside to this otherwise superb re-issue is that both "Lonnie & Josie" and "Amoureuse" were released in the States on MCA 40095 and 40157 respectively - and as advance radio promos, both singles sported a mono and stereo mix on either side. It's a damn shame that the exclusive "US Mono Mix" of each single wasn't included on here as bonuses when there was plenty of room. Niggles worth mentioning.
Other than that, this is like EMI's superb 2006 re-issues of Labi Siffre's 1970's Pye Albums - forgotten goodies given great remastered sound, decent liner notes and genuinely excellent bonus tracks. Thoroughly recommended and a job well done EMI.
PS: The other 5 re-issues are:
1. I’ve Got The Music In Me (1974 on Rocket Records)
2. Kiki Dee (1977 on Rocket Records)
3. Stay With Me (1979 on Rocket records)
4. Angel Eyes (1987 on Columbia Records)
5. Cage The Songbird
(an unreleased album recorded during the Rocket Records period, now aired for the first time; it also features ELTON JOHN and BERNIE TAUPIN)