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After what was to have been the final FREE gig in Australia, at Randwick Racecourse on May 9th 1971, Simon told me how he remembered coming off the stage with an overwhelming sense of sadness. Andy Fraser and Paul Rodgers made quick their exits but Simon and Koss were a little slower as they collected their thoughts with a sense of bewilderment. As they made their way to the waiting car they were approched by someone with an English voice. Ironically, as the guy involved expressed how much he?d enjoyed the gig he mentioned, he had seen them once before, in London with Alexis Korner. The next day or so he?d left England, emigrated. He?d seen only the first and last gigs, nothing in between. They all shook hands, said goodbye, and Simon and Koss got into the car and drove off into the sunset.

On leaving Australia, Koss first went to Japan and then America. He soon ended up back in his tiny Portobello News House, depressed and feeling very isolated and lonely. Simon had also gone to the States for a while but when he came back to England he?d not got a house. He moved in with Koss and it wasn?t long before they started planning their future. Simon and Koss had met Rabbit in Sweden where he was playing with Johnny Nash and they been out and gotten drunk a few times, talking about maybe doing something at some time in the future. Now was that time, Koss rang Rabbit and he expressed interest. In Japan, they?d met Tetsu who spoke only limited English but played pretty good bass. They contacted him and the main part of the line-up was completed. A singer, they felt, could be added later. Tetsu was due to fly in on July 25th but was delayed by a few days when he ended up stranded in CAIRO!! He sent Koss a number of very funny letters and telegrams, in somewhat loose English, one of which he wrote from the hotel in Cairo as he found himself without a connecting flight.

"Dear Paul !

How are you Paul ? I hope you are fine. I?m really fine now (except like this thing). I?m writing this letter from a Room of Hotel in Cairo. Are you surprise? Yeah. I?m wonder too. Why I stay in Cairo? Right. Supposed be I?m in London now. I took a plane yesterday from Tokyo and stop Cairo it for a change a plane to go to London. But, I can?t make it !!

Cos this @!#$%& air Company, it call UNITED ARAB AIR @!#$%& COMPANY when I get to Cairo Airport, then they said, we don?t have any flight to London Today. Then I said what a @!#$%& !! I was almost fighting. So I have to wait till next flight to go to London. They said, they have a flight tomorrow but it full already. @!#$%& again.

So I have to waite till 27th, but this one is going to Paris and I have to change to another Plane. Then I can go to London.So I?ll see you in London this Christmas....? Feel like this Man. Have you ever hard about air company call UNITED ARAB AIR @!#$%& COMPANY ?? But for me, this is nice vacation, isn?t it ....? Anyway if I?m lucky, Ill be in London on 27th, or going to sun or star or somewhere. But Im quite happy now. I?ll see you pretty soon. (If I?m lucky, right)

When I get a Plane Ill send you a telegram from a Plane. OK. So you have to be there (I mean your flat) on 27th, cos I wanna see you in airport, my Friend. Definitely I?ll be there on 27th or 28th. (just in case)

Say hello to Simon, Can you talk to Simon, Im in Cairo now. Just for laugh. Bye Bye Tetsu

PS: I?m never gonna use this @!#$%& company anymore. Can you say so to all your friends. That why it was half Price"

Tetsu finally got to London no worse for his flying experiences and work began on the material. By October, recording was well under way and a number of songs never made the album, or were left unfinished, including FRED, BLUESLY YOURS, EFFORT & BLUE JAM, the latter two feature some fine guitar from Koss. Rabbit had a wealth of great material and Simon and Koss wrote some excellent music. Everything seemed to fit perfectly. Koss absolutely loved Rabbit?s playing as it gave him a freedom he?d not known before. Rabbit was able to fill out the sound leaving him free to solo or riff as he liked. His playing reached new heights and there?s beautiful, soulful guitar throughout the whole album. It wasn?t all rose tho?.

Once Simon moved out of the News, he was no longer able to halt the tide of ?friends? and hangers on that poured into Kossoff?s house. The door, it?s been said, was never closed and Koss just couldn?t say 'No' to people. It wasn?t unusual to find `millions of people asleep everywhere? (Andy Fraser) when you visited, and quickly Koss?s playing and health started to suffer. It really hit me when I noticed his speech was slurred and he was falling asleep between takes.....", Simon told me, "and it just went from bad to worse....."

Both Rodgers and Fraser were very aware of Kossoff?s condition and at one point, Andy actually burst into the News House with his roadie, wrapped Koss in a blanket and literally kidnapped him. Simon and Tetsu sat gobsmacked! He was taken down to Andy's Country House and locked in. Within a few days of getting back to London, however, he was as bad as he?d ever been. On October 15th, after a day's recording and mixing, Koss turned up at a PEACE gig at London Polytechnic and, despite protests from the other PEACE members, Koss joined the band for the encore. Here perhaps were sown the initial seeds of the reformation.

KKTR had already thought about approaching Rodgers to sing on their album, now almost completed, but he was simply to busy with PEACE and already had an album of his own on to go. No suitable singer could be found and eventually the vocal duties were filled by Simon, Koss and Rabbit. None were particulary happy with the vocal tracks but the album was completed.

The last dated KKTR studio session was 14th January 1972 when they recorded a jam titled DONT MAKE NO DEAL. It could have been called the goodbye jam as nine days later, FREE performed the first of the re-formed gigs, unannounced at the GREYHOUND in Fulham. The KKTR project died before it was even born. The resulting album KOSSOFF, KIRKE, TETSU, RABBIT was released in March 1972.

I?ve always liked KKTR. So much so in fact that if I had to name my personal top three FREE/related albums, it would be in there with HIGHWAY and 2nd STREET. It?s an album of great texture and soul. A late night album with a kind of fragile musical quality. I never understood why Simon and Rabbit were so unhappy about the vocals. I?ve asked both about the album and both gave the same answer, "Great music, poor vocals." I disagree totally. Singing isn?t just about being note perfect with perfect pitch and vibrato, it?s about feeling mood, emotion and soul. I love Paul Rodgers and he?s got the best white blues voice ever BUT I don't think he would have added anything to the tracks. The actual performance may have been better but the emotion content would have been the same. Basically, the songs all feel good, and that?s all that really matters.

In Britain, KKTR was released in a brown gatefold sleeve with some rather unimaginative second rate, though not wholly unpleasant, lettering/artwork. The inner gatefold had the track and members information on one side and some preety poor photography from Dick Polack on the other. In fact the whole sleeve, done by CCSm has the feel of a child?s crayon drawing! The back of the sleeve is blank apart from the Island logo, catalogue number and printer's address. The label is that of the Island `Sunrise? which replaced the pink label. Initially, the album was excatly the same in the U.S. Same sleeve and label but the catalogue number was SMAS-9320, and the Island logo on the back sleeve had added underneath ?available from Capitol Records?. This was also added to the bottom of the disc label. It was released on cassette and 8-track cartridge, too. Later, when Island set up it?s own label in the States, the album was re-issued in a single sleeve. The pictures from the inner sleeve had now been moved onto the front cover and the track and members information went on the back.

This came on the `black` Island disc label. Quite a lot of these appeared in the UK in the mid-seventies as `cut out? imports (bargain bin albums from America with one of the sleeve corners cut off and sometimes a hole pierced straight through the sleeve and record label, too).

Upon it?s release, KKTR received good to fair reviews and was accompanied by a few full length quarter page and some smaller advertisements in the music press. FREE at the time were very busily preparing a new album (FREE AT LAST), so promotion for this record was none existent, which was a shame and certainly couldn?t have helped the record?s sales. TETSU went back to Japan while Rabbit stayed in England and started planning work on his solo projects.

KKTR has a wonderful moody and turbulent opening, very reminiscent of a wild stormy sea crashing up against rocks, rolling drums and crashing cymbals and some great guitar from KOSS before slipping into the main frame of Rabbit?s BLUE GRASS, a fine opening song, lots of feel and mood. TETSU playing was often described as plain but he?s just wonderful here. Never as busy as Andy was but there?s a lot of Fraserism in his playing. He?s perfectly matched with Simon and he keeps the track bobbing along. The whole track is punctuated with some very crisp and excellent Kossoff guitar. You can just hear him getting off on all the space he?s got and there?s a great joy in his playing on this track. It?s bright and alive. Rabbit is just mindbending. The keyboards here are just fantastic. Lots of hammond organ filling the sound, but not cluttering it. He always knew exactly how much to put in without overdoing it.

Some fine Keyboards runs and a nice solo too. I just Love Rabbits Hammond playing with Kossoff firing away over it. It?s an incredible Sound. Really BIG. The Combination of styles works so well here. Turn it right up and wallow in this glorious sound experience! The Production is incredible!! As usual Rabbit choice of lyric is really weird:

Talkin about some bad mess
Hubert?s singing blue grass
while his woman
she sings the blues

and later come the classic lines:
Picking your nose *(Picking he knows)
Will keep a man from sheading tears .....

I?ll really have to try that one sometime ? I?ve no Idea what he?s on about but this is what it sounds like he?s singing ! What a great Song though and a beautiful fall to bits ending.
SAMMY`s ALRIGHT is antoher of Rabbit?s contributions and has a similar Style and feel to TRAVELLIN IN STYLE, albeit with a litlle more Muscle, Kossoff?s Riff playing here is ver strange indeed, a totally different Style for him, ver fine lead Guitar throughout the Track tho?and the first real evidence of him playing through Rabbit?s Leslie Speaker cabinet (a system used on Hammond Organs to produce the swirling Sound, The Speaker in the cabinet actually revolves and the Speed of the rotation can be chnged). This was the Sound Koss used to great effect on TIME AWAY. Drums and bass are used with great intelligence on this Track. Really underplayed. Very sparse and laid back, and the Track is controlled by Rabbit?s Piano and the Mass of layered Guitar. In some places two or three Guitars can be heard soloing at once.
Towards the End the Track really starts to build up and then Koss slaps on the cream with some quite sharp Guitar. On the Fade Simon doubles up the Tempo and someone, Rabbit I?d guess, can be heard shouting in the Background. It sounds like the start of a good Jam and I?d love to hear how it really finished.
Rabbi?ts choice of Words is indeed strange (again):

(The Song is actually about a retarded Boy)

Hey, People watch
Someone is falling
Into the Sea like a Turtle
Rolling around
In his own Company
But now that it?s over
Sing a Melody
Our story begins

Sammy?s alrigth
Sammy?s alright
You know kids play with Fire
But Sammy?s alright
Just a scratch of raw desire

Some People a strange
(But no Way)
Just like this here Phrase
Sammy, Sammy?s alright
On the whole he?s quite a good man
So you just accept him
and help him all that you can

A Rabbit?s mind works in mysterious Ways !

Most People, due to the availability of this Album, are far more familiar with the BAD COMPANY version of Simon?s Song ANNA, from STRAIGHT SHOOTER. I?ve always felt this Original was the better Version. The acoustic Guitar and Rabbit?s Piano give the Track wonderful atmosphere. The Hammond hangs in the Background occasionally piercing through and Tetsu does a wonderful Job with the Bass. Simon?s Vocal here, shared I think with Rabbit, and the Rabbit/Simon Harmonies are very fine indeed.The words as always with Simon are simple and straight to the Point:

Got a sweet litlle Lady
And I love her so
She?s there when I need her
and when I ask she?ll just go

In the Night
She says hold me
It makes me feel so strong
And those Times when she scolds me
Well they are Times when I?ve done wrong

And I don?t need anyone else
If I did I?d just be fooling myself

I know if she left me
I would feel so sad
She?s the best little Lady
That I?ve ever had
When I?m down
She knows just what to say
She clears my blindness away
And in the Night
She says hold me
And I feel so strong

And I don?t need anyone else
If I did I?d just be fooling myself

Rabbit?s Hammond Work at the End the harmonies give the Track a very Gospel feel with lots of spiritual lift. Beautifully done. In Parts the Track feels a bit like the very best Stuff by Procol Harum. Lots of great Hammond work but very spacey.
Like ANNA most People are aware of JUST FOR THE BOX because it appeared elsewhere, this Time on THE FREE STORY. This was Kossoff?s thing. An Instrumental Guitar Track with a very strange Riff Style for Paul that works incredibly well. He Really does excel here. Lots of long Notes and duelling Guitar. The Track has great flow and a mass of different Styles and techniques. A real Kaleidoscope. It was obviously a Track that KOSS liked as on at least one Occasion (at the Free trade Hall in Manchester) the Track was resurrected and performed excellently by BACK STREET CRAWLER. A couple of Jams in a similar Style exist from these Session. BLUE JAM and EFFORT. It?s a very different Side of Koss, unfortunately never fully explored. Here then is jsut a glimpse of something that COULD have been. A totally different Direction with so much potential.
HOLD ON was performed by FREE on the re-formation Tour during February of 1972. It?s a shame they didn?t record it but the version is very Good, although the Track does have an ?unfinished?Quality. Piano dominates the Track after the Guitar and Vocal opening. Koss plays great Guitar, tho? in places he sounds a little hesitant. The end Sequence is fantastic with a strutting backing Track and KOSS flying over it with flashes of brilliance. The Leslie Sound is again in evidence. The Track written by Simon and Koss, could quite possibly reflected on their feelings after the FREE split as they sat, feeling pretty fed up, trying to figure out what to do next in that little News House:

Hold ON
To what you think is true
That?s about the best thing
A Man can do
Hold On
To what you believe is right
It?s going to comfort you
Even in your darkest Night
I know Times get hard
But I know they?ve got to get better
I feel
there?s something in the Air
Good Times gonna come soon
I just know they?re there

Hold On
To what you think is true
That?s about the best Thing
A Man can do
And hold on tight
To what you believe is Right
And in your Darkness
It will be your guiding Light

When Friends have turned to strangers
Every Day seemes grey with failure
But if you can?t believe in yourself
Them no one else can re-arrange it
I know times get cold
You feel the sickness in your Soul
But a know
That things are gonna be alright

Good Times gonna come soon
I can see them in sight
I see them coming
Good Times.....

Some brilliant Piano runs from Rabbit behind this ending. The band just lift off. Another of those Tracks I?d like to hear right to the very end.Wonderful Song.

Side Two kicks off with another strange opening but FOLL?S LIFE again shows RABBIT excellent writing ability. Tetsu?s Bass playing is exempory, really good. The Track has some excellent rises and falls with great Koss Guitar throughout. It reminds me of STEELY DAN and some of the other very heavy American Musical Muscle. In Musical content and arrangement it?s a very mature track, excellently put together. Simon pushes it along at a good pace and as usual his drumming shows his vastly underrated understanding of pace and effect. Never flash but always understated and his ability to push a Track along without resorting to AC/DC technique (something I?m afraid he IS often guilty of now) never ceases to amaze me. He never just played snare and hi-hat patterns, he always used the kit to maximum effect without being stupid and overplaying. His understanding of EXACTLY what a Track needed is often overlooked. FREE without him would have been unthinkable. His Sense of Rhythm and Style was unparalleled. With Simon?s drumming and Tetsu?s Bass the Track bops and body swerves all over the place. Listen to them! Totally happening.
Rabbit plays some excellent piano and the track has a wonderfully full Sound, everything perfectly in it?s place. The piece towards the ending is exquisite as everything slowly drops away and Simon slows the pace beautifully. The Guitar howls and cries and Rabbit?s piano is just Fantastic , it?s like going through a dark tunnel with a cold wind blowing around you. It then builds up over a few bars and it?s like building up speed them BAMM ! your back out into the Light with some blazing Guitar from Koss.
Incredible Stuff, again the production is a revelation. Turn it up.......LOUDER ! Sensational ! How can this Album be so overlooked !
The Lyric is in parts a little difficult to catch and again features some very strange lines indeed. Rabbit?s performance of it is excellent though:

Yet now
They say it?s a fake
Well dont turn round
Coz there?s a Man with a Stick
About the drive the Life out of you
For what it?s worth
Don?t you care
That it?s a fool?s Life
And a fool chased a fake..... (?)
(and a fool chance to take)

YELLOW HOUSE, again by RABBIT, has a very different feel and B.J. Cole?s slide Guitar gives a strange country cum blues sound. It?s a difficult Track to describe and although it?s like nothing else on the Album it fits here perfectly. There are some wonderful Keyboard Sounds and textures but the song is heavily dominated by the Piano, slide Guitar and some very heavy drumming from Simon.

I cannot figure out your reason
You want me yet you make me go
Looks like the Time is gonna fade us away
And leave our Money (like stone).....

I meditate and think of being with you
I concentrate on giving reasons to you
(I concentrate on giving real things to you)
I cannot help it if I?m broken in two
The Sun won?t rise if there?s no moon.

Definitely a blues Song but given a very strange and interesting treatment showing something of Rabbit?s country and blue grass influences.

DYING FIRE, written by Simon, is a classical and was supposed to have been included on the double Album BLUE SOUL tribute to Koss. HOLD ON was used instead and that was a Mistake. The Track was chnged by Island Records. The Sound is again dominated by Piano and drums at the start but builds in intensity and sound. KOSS plays some fine pieces of Guitar, perfectly matching the Mood of Simon?s lyric of lost Love. It?s one of the finest examples of Kossoff?s Talent to match the mood and feel of his playing PERFECTLY with the lyrical content of the Song. The Solo at the end is quite stunning. It builds to a powerful climax as the Track finishes. Lots of long talking high Notes, pulled and wrenched from his very Soul. It?s exhausting listening and totally draining.The emotional content of the playing is beyond questioning and far exceeding my limited knowledge of clumsy words. It?s sad and beautiful. A great testament to a genuine talent, for which he paid so dearly. Simon?s lyric is perfect:
Sitting by a dying Fire
Waiting for dawn to rise
And wondering if what I heard was true
And hoping that it?s just a lie
No matter how much I reason
I can?t stop this feeling
That?s tearing my Heart in two
and you seem so near
The feelings so clear
that I?ve lost you......

You tell me that you love him
and there?s a Fire in your Eyes
That burns an emptiness in my Soul
And hope is shrivelled and withered
and finally it died
You left my Life long ago
No matter how much I reason
I can?t control this feeling
That?s tearing my soul in two
and you seem so dear
The truth is so clear
That I?ve lost you

Rabbit?s careful use of mellotron really does lift the end of the Track (I love mellotron) and the climax is beautifully executed, right down to the final sounds of Koss?s last dying note. Totally inspired.
IM ON THE RUN was another of the Songs from this Album that FREE used. Written by Rabbit they started performing it after Andy left and Rabbit used to handle the Main singing on it, leaving Paul Rodgers to add backing Vocals ! It?s a very laid back affair with some very atmospheric steel Guitar from B.J.COLE again. KOSS turns in a couple of verfy fine and different sounding solo?s too. It?s a very sparse sounding backing track. The Vocal leaning heavily on the Electric Piano and the drumming, which is very good indeed. It lifts visibly for the Solo?s and has another great ending. While not a Bad Track in any sense. It does seem to fit a little uncomfortably after DYING FIRE. Great Lyric from Rabbit tho?:

I?m on the Run
Woke up this Morning
Sheriff told me that I had to go away
Leave town
Packed with my Guns
Marked everyone
That I laid down by the church outside
Keep heading down to the border Line

I?m on the Run
I?ve just begun
took up my guns
I?m on the Run
I?m on the Run
I?m on ..
. I?m on...
I?m on the Run

Thought if I could see you just once
Under the Night
I would be satisfied forever but I
I just cant take the Time
I feel like dying
And I just might if I don?t get away

I?m on the Run
I?ve just begun
Took up my guns
I?m on the Run
I?m on the Run

COLOURS was written by Koss and Elliot Burgess, whom I know nothing about at all. It?s a very intense ?down` kind of song and it?s also the only time Koss ever sang on anything that was released. His Voice is very muffled and incoherent and he sings as if very distressed. Most of the words become lost as he chews them before letting them out of his mouth. The middle section is very clear though, and a truly haunting statement to some inner torment:

There?s People drifting round
Drifting in their Heads
They ain?t looking for nothing
They know there?s nothing to be found
If you see me wandering
And there?s anchors on my Soul
Please don?t push or burn me
Gently soothe my Soul

The whole Track has a very ?her wordly` feel, even from the strangely crafted and deliberately weird fade-in beginning. The Track has lots of underlying menace but can?t be fitted into any category that is known to me. Disturbing is perhaps the best word I can find to describe this piece. It does feature some absolutely brilliant Guitar playing from KOSS and the whole Band are very tight yet somehow the arrangement manages to maintain a very loose feel. Fragile. Like it could just fall apart at anytime, rather like Paul?s life.... The Track inspires very deep thought and is the sort of thing that leaves a poignant silence in the Air when it?s finished. You don?t just rush up and slip something else on because only silence could follow it. With friends, you feel like discussing it! The track leaves an almost tangible aura in the air.

It?s interesting to think that great things were expected of PEACE and TOBY (Rodgers and FRASERS splinter Bands respectively) yet they never even touched on the potential there was here, and it?s ironic to think that this was the only Album of Music to come from the FREE split, from the two Musicians who never even wanted it to happen in the first place, Simon and Koss.
KKTR can also regarded as an important view point between HIGHWAY and FREE AT LAST. Almost a missing link. Kossoff in his later Years always expressed a feeling of being ?squashed` by the restrictions Andy and Paul put on him in the format of their songs; verse; chorus; verse; meddle eight. solo, verse, chorus, end etc... Particulary on the HIGHWAY Album KKTR and Rabbit in particular smashed the shackles and allowed him a much broader base with which to experiment. He no longer had to play to a set Formula. He could play around the riff rather than having to play it throughout the verse. In Fact if he, didn?t want to play the riff he could play something else entirely! It was a thing he carried with him into FREE AT LAST and I doubt it would have happened if this Album hadn?t been recorded. If FREE hadn?t reformed I often woder how KKTR would have grown from this fine one-off debut album.
Speculation perhaps but the great potential shown here was only a scratch on the surface just the beginning of what I think could have been an incredible Band. Unfortunately the period around KKTR can also be described as the beginning of the End for Paul Kossoff. His Health would never be as good as it was before the FREE split and the drug mis-use that scarred this Project and all his subsequent work started it?s out of control downward spiral here. There was no going back on the damage that was done here. Mental and Physical.
KOSSOFF, KIRKE, TETSU, RABBIT has remained on my list of perennial plays since it?s release. I reach for it as often as anything in my record collection and play it more that some of the FREE albums !!.

This article was written by David Clayton, founder of the FAS.
Published in ISSUE 48, May 1991.

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    © 2002 Last Modified: 28 June, 2002