Artist: Grand Funk Railroad (or Grand Funk)
Album:We're An American Band
Produced by Todd Rundgren
1. Creepin' (7:04)
2. The Railroad (6:12)
3. Black Licorice (4:47)
4. The Loneliest Rider (5:14)
5. Walk Like a Man (You Can Call Me Your Man) (4:07)
6. Ain't Got Nobody (4:23)
7. Stop Lookin' Back (4:54)
8. We're An American Band (3:28)
Grand Funk is:
Mark Farner- Vocals, Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Piano, Conga
Don Brewer- Vocals, Drums, Percussion
Mel Shacher- Bass
Craig Frost- Organ, Clavinet, Electric Piano, Moog
"Nobody knows the band Grand Funk? The wild, shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner? The bong-rattling bass of Mel Shacher? The competent drum-work of Don Brewer? Oh, man!"
About a year ago, I would've been the subject of Homer's disbelief and frustration. all i knew of this band was that simply the fact that my dad owns a ton of their records on vinyl, along with other stoner seventies arena rock greats like Uriah Heep, Ozark Moutain Daredevils, The Sweet, Nazareth, April Wine, and a dozen other bands that the youth of today would only know from watching Dazed and Confused too many times. Finally after hearing the title track from this album being blasted out during a crazy, booze-and-drug infested weekend during the summer, I was instantly hooked and set out to pick this album up.
Now to my disappointment, and probably Homer's, Grand Funk doesn't seem to get much respect on these forums or in general. But its somewhat understandable. I mean, Grand Funk back in the day was the probably the first real arena rock band, a band that didn't sell a lot of records and was critically lambasted by the 70's music snobs of the time, but sold out stadiums all over the world, especially in the US. In fact its safe to say that Grand Funk was the first "people's band" in rock history, where Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd at the time could accoplish just the same, they at least had the "artistic cred" and "labels" to support their proliferation. Grand Funk back in the day, confused the hell out of record CEOs simply by the way they were able to sell out huge arenas, yet no one would buy their albums in the same respect. These guys were way before KISS, or U2, or any of the sub-par "people's bands" of today like Linkin Park, Dave Matthews Band, etc.
Though, its probably recommended for any first time listener to pick up the greatest hits album, or even better, any of their live albums, this record, in my opinion is their most solid and rocking standard release that is able to catch the intensity of their indulgent live playing, catchy hooks, and just straight-up ability to rock.
- The song title perfectly describes the general feel of the song. the lowly but smooth bass riff blends brilliantly with the subtle organ trills, giving the song a very sinister and mysterious vibe. Farner's vocals really incorporates that "live" sound and gives the sound as if he's got plenty of space to sing. Farner also lays down some killer guitar solos, and the all-out jamming at the end is awash in 70-hard rock-style psychedelia. a strong operner. 4.5/5
2. The Railroad
- The song kicks off a nice blare of psychedelic organ and slowly segues nicely into a quiet guitar melody, that provides an interesting texture for Farner's soulful vocals. The vocal hook in the chorus is very catchy and arena-worthy. a nice jam in the bridge of this 6-minute workout features the skills of Farner's playing as well Brewer's manic and primal drumming. and Frost's powerfully soulful melodies on the keys. the use of trashcan-style percussion really adds to the intensity of the song as well. 4/5
3. Black Licorice
- With a ridulously infectious bass riff and a funky guitar rhythm, this song right off the bat is very catch. Farner's vocals in this song just kill, and reiterates the dangerously sexual themes of the lyrics perfectly, especially in the chorus. the drumming is just wonderfully ferocious and the intense organ solo is just orgasmic. wow. 5/5
4. Loneliest Rider
- The song has a pretty cool groove, but Farner's attempt at story-telling (on more serious material at least) doesn't really fly with me. there's some nice production techniques on this track- the heavily reverberated guitar and organ really gives the song that wash of psychedelia it needs. 3/5
5. Walk Like a Man (You Can Call Me Your Man)
- This song has an a very catchy shout-a-long chorus and the electric piano riff and heavy drumbeat really emphasizes the machismo nature of this song. Farner's vocals works nicely with the soaring guitar licks that litter the song throughout. once again the bridge shows off their jamming skills very well, with a very blues-rock heavy guitar solo. 4/5
6. Ain't Got Nobody
- This song is pretty standard fare, which is a little unfortunate. the verse and chorus are both a little bland and forgettable, though the vocal harmonies are pretty sweet. This song is all about the jazzy kind of piano progression that occurs throughout, giving the song a kind of Steely Dan/Chicago vibe. there also some sweet guitar solos in here that one can certainly indulge in. 3.5/5
7. Stop Lookin' Back
- This song is chockfull of catchy and groove-oriented 70s-style riffs from every instrument. the song changes form and direction in the beginning and really demonstrates the band's ability to jam tightly as a group and still remain within a tasteful framework. plenty of psychedelic organ washes and a manic tom-infested drum beat at the end really makes this a very fun song to just lay back and enjoy. 4/5
8. We're An American Band
- Here it is, the pinnacle of the album. this song is argubly to say their biggest hit, and deservingly so. this song has just a killer riff and the thunderous bass just owns. the vocals are awesome and when coupled with the lyrics, which are about partying and gettin it on with groupies, really adds to simple and fun nature demonstrated. the guitar solo is very solid and the organ really builds on the poppy psychedelic element. and did i mention this song has cowbell? Yup, this song just plain rocks. 5/5
well there you go. Grand Funk didn't try to write any pretentious concept albums nor did they try to showoff any artistic integrity or whatnot. they are a perfect example of living in the seventies was like: carefree attitudes, partying, and being able to listen to poppy & catchy rock songs without shame. this was a band that knew how to do one thing, and that was rockin'. and this album shows that they did it well.
Final Rating 4.5/5
We're An American Band (duh)
Stop Lookin' Back