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Freedom's Prisoner

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Title: Freedom's Prisoner  
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Subject: The Candidate (album), Steve Harley, The Alan Parsons Project, 1979 in music
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Freedom's Prisoner

"Freedom's Prisoner"
Single by Steve Harley (Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel)
from the album The Candidate
B-side "One More Time"
Released September 1979
Format 7"
Genre Pop, Rock
Length 3:51
Label EMI Records
Writer(s) Steve Harley, Jimmy Horowitz
Producer(s) Steve Harley, Jimmy Horowitz
Steve Harley (Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel) singles chronology
"Someone's Coming"
"Freedom's Prisoner"
"Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) (re-issue)"

"Freedom's Prisoner" is a single by British singer-songwriter Steve Harley, released as the lead single from his second solo album The Candidate in 1979.[1] It would be the only single to be released from the album.


"Freedom's Prisoner" was written and produced by both Harley and British songwriter/musician/producer Jimmy Horowitz. Unlike the two singles from Harley's debut solo album Hobo with a Grin, "Freedom's Prisoner" managed to enter the top 100 in the UK. The song peaked at #58 in the UK for a total of three weeks, after originally debuting at #70 in late October 1979.[2] Following the limited success of the single, and the failing of The Candidate album, EMI Records dropped Harley from the label.[3]

In a 1979 Daily Mirror issue, an article titled "Bad Boy Back on Song" was based on Harley, written by Pauline McLeod. The article spoke of the song, stating "The album he wrote when he returned to London, titled "The Candidate" will be out in the autumn and a new single "Freedom's Prisoner" is due out at the same time." The article also quoted Harley speaking of the song, stating "I reckon the single is a Top Ten record," he says with his usual modesty."[4]

Often complimented to be the best song on The Candidate album, the lyrics are reportedly about an obsession of the song's narrator concerning a girl he often goes to see dancing and feels he's becoming a prisoner of this monomania.[5] The song features backing choir vocal from The English Chorale.[6]

The song was recorded and mastered at Abbey Road Studios, whilst it was mixed at Morgan Studios.


The single was released via 7" vinyl through EMI Records in the UK only. The single featured the b-side "One More Time" which was written by Harley and produced by both Harley and Horowitz. The b-side also appeared on The Candidate album as an album track.[7] The artwork featured a close up photograph of Harley, in front of a black background and a white box that holds the Harley's name and the song title. An identical promotional 7" vinyl was also released, which simply highlighted "Demo Records - Not for Sale" as the only difference from the main release.[8]

Following the original release, the song has appeared on various Steve Harley compilations, including the 1983 Capitol compilation The Collection, the CD version of the 1988 compilation Greatest Hits,[9] the 1992 EMI compilation Make Me Smile: The Best of Steve Harley, the 1999 UK EMI Gold release The Cream of Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, the 2006 EMI compilation Cockney Rebel: A Steve Harley Anthology and the 2008 EMD (EMI Gold) compilation The Best of Steve Harley. The song was also included on the various artists compilation 6x6 - The Seventies, which highlighted six artists and compiled an entire disc of songs from each.[10]


A music video was created for the single, and limited promotion was given overall.

The song has been performed live on numerous occasions and was professionally filmed live in 1984 at Camden Palace for the "Live from London" video release.[11] The performance is available under the same title of "Live from London" on two DVD editions; one from 2001 (and its re-issue in 2007) and one from 2012.[12][13] It was originally released during the 1980s as a VHS release.[14] A video recording also exists of Harley performing the song live in 1989.[15]

Track listing

7" Single
  1. "Freedom's Prisoner" - 3:51
  2. "One More Time" - 4:26
7" Single (promo)
  1. "Freedom's Prisoner" - 3:51
  2. "One More Time" - 4:26

Critical reception

Dave Thompson of Allmusic spoke of the song in a review of The Candidate album, stating "When Steve Harley's "Freedom's Prisoner" single hit the airwaves in fall 1979, it would have taken a lot to convince the longtime fan that the man hadn't resparked all his old glories again, and was about to embark upon a musical journey as scintillating, and as fascinating, as that which launched him in the first place. A tidal wave of intriguing lyrics, a captivating chorus and a dynamic that was pure Psychomodo, it was Harley's finest 45 in half a decade. It was also a total fluke, as the accompanying album flopped onto the streets and proved itself to be little more than a clutch of substandard songs, glued together by alluring production alone."[16]

In an Allmusic review of the 2008 EMI Gold compilation The Best of Steve Harley, Thompson stated "This 16-song compilation brings together an almost uniformly excellent roundup of Steve Harley's 1970s output, opening (in chronological terms) with "Sebastian" and wrapping up with "Freedom's Prisoner," an unexpectedly joyful excerpt from his 1979 schedule."[17]

In another Allmusic review of the 1983 Capitol compilation The Collection, Thompson spoke of the song in relation to being placed near the beginning of the compilation. He stated "The remainder of the set is a fairly predictable run through the hits and highlights of Harley and Cockney Rebel's golden years - oddly it omits both "Sebastian" and 1979's "Freedom's Prisoner" from that role call, suggesting that it was compiled with an eye more for chart positions than immortality."[18]

In a negative review of a Harley concert of the time at the Hammersmith Odeon, published in Record Mirror on 27 October 1979, the author Kelly Pike spoke of the live performance of the song, stating "Steve Harley has been away too long. His return sell-out show was a sad, distasteful affair, like expecting smoked salmon and getting a couple of kippers slapped on your plate. No substance, no style and no fun. Good moments were as common as a Van Gogh on a cornflake packet during the near cabaret act. 'Love is a Prima Donna' and possibly 'Here Comes The Sun' were reasonable, while 'Freedom's Prisoner' scored points for being the only song where any conceivable enthusiasm was shown."[19]

Chart performance

Chart (1979) Peak
UK Singles Chart (The Official Charts Company)[2] 58


  • Producer - Steve Harley, Jimmy Horowitz
  • Engineer – Hayden Bendall, Tony Clark
  • Mastering – Chris Blair
  • Mixer – Mike Hedges
  • Choir – The English Chorale
  • Choir Director – Robert Howes
  • Guitar – Jo Partridge, Phil Palmer, Nico Ramsden
  • Bass Guitar - John Giblin
  • Drums – Stuart Elliott
  • Writers of "Freedom's Prisoner" - Steve Harley, Jimmy Horowitz
  • Writers of "One More Time" - Steve Harley


  1. ^ "Steve Harley - Freedom's Prisoner (Vinyl) at Discogs". Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  2. ^ a b "The Official Charts Company - Freedom's Prisoner by Steve Harley Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Rock movers & shakers - Dafydd Rees, Luke Crampton - Google Books. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  4. ^ "Bad Boy Back On Song". Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  5. ^ "Forgotten songs: Steve Harley - Freedom's Prisoner 7" (1979)". Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  6. ^ "Steve Harley - The Candidate (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  7. ^ "Steve Harley - The Candidate at Discogs". Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  8. ^ "Steve Harley - Freedom's Prisoner / One More Time - EMI - UK - EMI 2994". 45cat. 2012-11-02. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  9. ^ "Freedom's Prisoner - Steve Harley, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-02-02. 
  10. ^ "6 x 6 - The Seventies - Various Artists : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  11. ^ The Store For Music. "Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - Freedom's Prisoner". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  12. ^ "Steve Harley + Cockney Rebel - Live From London DVD NTSC: Steve Harley: Music". 2012-06-11. Retrieved 2012-12-25. 
  13. ^ "Steve Harley And The Cockney Rebel - Live From London DVD 2007: Classic Pictures: Film & TV". Retrieved 2012-12-25. 
  14. ^ "Live From London: Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel: Video". Retrieved 2012-12-25. 
  15. ^ "Steve Harley - Freedom's Prisoner". YouTube. 2009-11-09. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  16. ^ Thompson, Dave. "Candidate - Steve Harley : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  17. ^ Thompson, Dave (2008-07-07). "The Best of Steve Harley [EMI Gold] - Steve Harley : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  18. ^ Thompson, Dave. "Collection - Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-02-02. 
  19. ^ "Hammersmith Odeon". Retrieved 2013-02-06. 

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