Freedom's Prisoner

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"Freedom's Prisoner"
Single by Steve Harley
from the album The Candidate
B-side "One More Time"
Released 7 September 1979[1]
Format 7"
Genre Pop, Rock
Length 3:51
Label EMI Records
Songwriter(s) Steve Harley, Jimmy Horowitz
Producer(s) Steve Harley, Jimmy Horowitz
Steve Harley singles chronology
"Someone's Coming"
"Freedom's Prisoner"
"Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) (re-issue)"
"Someone's Coming"
"Freedom's Prisoner"
"Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) (re-issue)"

"Freedom's Prisoner" is a song by British singer-songwriter Steve Harley, released in 1979 as the only single from his second solo album The Candidate.[2] It was written and produced by Harley and Jimmy Horowitz. The song reached No. 58 in the UK.


After Harley's 1978 debut solo album Hobo with a Grin was met with commercial failure, Harley returned to the UK in late 1978, having spent almost a year living in Los Angeles. He soon started writing and recording his second solo album The Candidate, which was released in September 1979. During that month, "Freedom's Prisoner" was also released as the album's lead single. It reached No. 58 on the UK Singles Chart and remained in the Top 75 for three weeks, having originally debuted at No. 70 in late October.[3] The limited commercial success of both the single and The Candidate resulted in EMI Records dropping Harley, leaving him without a record deal.[4]

Speaking to Pauline McLeod of the Daily Mirror in 1979, Harley spoke of his predictions for the song, stating: "I reckon the single is a Top Ten record".[5] "Freedom's Prisoner" features backing vocals from Reigate-based choir The English Chorale. Harley had asked Horowitz to find a choir for the plainsong parts, and in turn Horowitz booked the choir. They were directed by Robert Howes. The song was recorded and mastered at Abbey Road Studios, and mixed at Morgan Studios.[6]


"Freedom's Prisoner" was released by EMI Records on 7" vinyl in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands.[7] The B-Side, "One More Time", was written by Harley, and produced by Harley and Horowitz. It also appeared on The Candidate.[8] The UK and Netherlands releases came with a colour picture sleeve, featuring a close-up photograph of Harley. In the UK, a promotional 7" vinyl was also released.[9]

Following its original release as a single and on The Candidate, the song has appeared on various Steve Harley compilations, including 1987's Greatest Hits,[10] 1992's Make Me Smile: The Best of Steve Harley, 1999's The Cream of Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel and 2006's The Cockney Rebel – A Steve Harley Anthology.


A music video was filmed to promote the single.

The song has been performed live on numerous occasions. It was performed at Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel's 1984 concert at the Camden Palace, London, which was filmed for TV and released on the VHS Live from London in 1985.[11][12][13][14] When the band returned to touring in 1989, the song was occasionally included in the set-list.[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

Upon release, Chris Difford of Squeeze reviewed the single for Smash Hits, and commented: "David Essex would turn in his Rolls if he heard this one. A contract filler perhaps."[16] In a Smash Hits review of The Candidate, Red Starr highlighted the song as one of the album's best tracks.[17] In a review of Harley's 1979 concert at the Hammersmith Odeon, Kelly Pike of Record Mirror said: "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."[18]

In a retrospective review of The Candidate, Dave Thompson of AllMusic commented: "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."[19]

In a review of the 2008 compilation The Best of Steve Harley, Thompson added: "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."[20] In another AllMusic review, of the 1983 compilation The Collection, Thompson spoke of the song in relation to being placed near the beginning of the compilation: "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."[21]

Chart performance

Chart (1979) Peak
UK Singles Chart (The Official Charts Company)[22] 58



  1. ^
  2. ^ "Steve Harley - Freedom's Prisoner (Vinyl) at Discogs". Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Rock movers & shakers - Dafydd Rees, Luke Crampton - Google Books. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  5. ^ "Bad Boy Back On Song". Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  6. ^ "Steve Harley - The Candidate (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Steve Harley - The Candidate at Discogs". Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  9. ^ "Steve Harley - Freedom's Prisoner / One More Time - EMI - UK - EMI 2994". 45cat. 2012-11-02. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  10. ^ "Freedom's Prisoner - Steve Harley, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-02-02. 
  11. ^ Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel (1989). The 'Come Back, All is Forgiven' Tour Official Programme. Print Simplicity. 
  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. ^ Difford, Chris (4 October 1979). "Single reviews". Smash Hits. 
  17. ^ Starr, Red. "Albums". Smash Hits (November 1–14, 1979): 29. 
  18. ^ "Hammersmith Odeon". Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  19. ^ Thompson, Dave. "Candidate - Steve Harley : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  20. ^ Thompson, Dave (2008-07-07). "The Best of Steve Harley [EMI Gold] - Steve Harley : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  21. ^ Thompson, Dave. "Collection - Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-02-02. 
  22. ^

External links