Category: Grand Funk Railroad

Grand Funk Railroad – Closer to Home

ARTIST: Grand Funk Railroad        Closer_to_Home

TITLE: Closer to Home

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #6

SINGLES: Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother, Close to Home (#22)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Mean Mistreater

LINEUP: Mark Farner, Don Brewer, Mel Schachter

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The third album (in 10 months!) moves the band into the superstar status (based on album sales and concert attendance). But it’s maddeningly inconsistent.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: At their best (“I’m Your Captain / Closer to Home”), Grand Funk Railroad can create timeless rock-and-roll. Yet, most every other track here has flaws in either lyrics (“Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother” is just full of nonsense), music (they’re not balladeers), or execution (the backing vocals for “Hooked on Love”? Oh, man).

“Aimless Lady” is about the only other track that doesn’t have a noticeable flaw. The songs rock hard enough (except for the ballads) that their flaws can be papered over if you just focus on the rock. Even the sexist tripe can almost pass for acceptable if you just turn off the lyrics.

Still, a record with “I’m Your Captain…” is worth at least a small investment.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The single version of the title track was half of the length, and there’s been at least five or six ways that track has been listed among albums by the band.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, live cuts and a different mix of “Mean Mistreater” 

GRADE: B-: One classic, and a few songs just not all the way there. They’re kind of a frustrating group, to be honest.

Grand Funk Railroad – Grand Funk

ARTIST: Grand Funk Railroad                             Grand_Funk_(album_cover)

TITLE:  Grand Funk

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION: #11

SINGLES: Mr. Limousine Driver (#97 US), Inside Looking Out (#40 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Got This Thing on the Move, Paranoid (not that one)

LINEUP: Mark Farner, Mel Schacher, Don Brewer

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album gives the people what they want – simple boogie with some sorta social conscious lyrics.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The star of early Grand Funk has to be bassist Mel Schacher, mainly because of where his bass winds up in the mix. It’s way out there man. Terry Knight’s mixing and producing is very simple here, with Mark Farner’s guitar is split with rhythm mainly in one channel and his leads in the other and Schacher dominating the mix in both channels while Don Brewer’s drums are mainly in the other channel.

The songs? Oh, well, they’re definitely jammy for sure. Four of the nine wind up at over 6 ½ minutes, including the album closer “Inside Looking Out” at 9 ½ minutes of boogie and bluster.

It’s really a simple album, if you like Grand Funk’s hits there’s no reason you won’t like this second effort. If you need more convincing, I don’t think this is the one that will convince you.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The inside of the gatefold was used for their huge Times Square Billboard the next year.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: An outtake and a different take.

GRADE: B-:  I dig it, but sometimes I need me some stoopid rock and boogie.

Grand Funk Railroad – On Time

ARTIST: Grand Funk Railroad        220px-grand_funk_railroad_-_on_time

TITLE:  On Time

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION: #27

SINGLES: Time Machine (#48), Heartbreaker (#72)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Are You Ready, High on a Horse, Into the Sun

LINEUP: Mark Farner, Mel Schachter, Don Brewer

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The trio bursts out of the gate with a simple boogie sound that pleases the 16-25 year old male masses.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Though not everything Grand Funk Railroad did was straight forward stoopid rock-and-roll (“Anybody’s Answer” has a slow part and hippie type lyrics, for example), but there was enough of it to please the typical non-counterculture-but-still-hip male of that generation. It was a band for weed and wine, not LSD.

Mark Farner, the leader and guitarist, wrote and sang everything here, and while riffs are his specialty, lyrics really aren’t. But you’re not listening to Grand Funk to be informed like it was a Dylan album, were you?

The mix is odd – it’s kind of pushed back and no instrument is really out front. I’d have expected the guitar to be pushed forward like Clapton in cream, but it seems pretty democratic. Farner’s riffs and leads are the thing, so why they’d be somewhat muted is anyone’s guess. I’m blaming the weed. I also tuned out a bit during the drum solos and long intros. They needed to edit stuff down, but alas, it was the 60’s.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Farner and Brewer were from the group The Pack, which was led by their now-manager Terry Knight. Schachter had played with ? and the Mysterians.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A couple of live cuts

GRADE: B-: When it’s good, it riffs like a mo-fo. But some songs just go on too long, aimlessly meander, and they have a G_D pointless drum solo.