“All Right Now” was the big 1970 hit from the blues-rock band Free with one of the most recognisable but easy to fluff guitar riffs of all time. Unfortunately, for the budding axe hero, Paul Kossoff was not playing anything particularly simple on a single guitar in this song by bassist Andy Fraser and singer Paul Rodgers. Ostensibly, it’s just a standard A major chord with a jangly bit of an open A7 on the third fret. But, the song has been dissected and aficionados know only too well that there are two guitars overdubbed, one playing the A major with a fretted A on the sixth string and the other playing an A major with a fretted A and E on the 1st and 2nd strings.
The A7 is often played incorrectly as an open (first position) C major chord shape at the third fret, a D(add2), but the fifth string isn’t fretted in that jangly chord at all, there’s an A at the 5th on the sixth string instead of the C note on the fifth string, so nominally it’s an Em9/A, but really it’s just a modified A7 heading up the neck from root position. This tutorial shows what’s really going on in the studio version of “All Right Now”. Of course, if you’re the bands only guitarist and you want to cover this song live, you’re going to have to compromise, unless you’ve got a twin-neck and two left hands.
That “jangly” chord is is funnily enough a common form of A7 that is taken up a kind of non-scale in various blues-rock songs, the break in Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker” for instance, and in the main riff of Rush’s “Beneath, Between and Behind” (which inevitably sounds very like the former) and no doubt others. Have a listen to Heartbreaker from 2’51” and the opening of BB&B to hear what I mean, same riff basically, you have to agree.
I’ve now recorded myself playing the riff twice in both formats and overdubbed them here: