Sun Spin: Grand Funk Railroad


One of rock's original power trios, Grand Funk Railroad haven't aged with the same cool cache as Cream and the James Gang or even the kitsch charm of ZZ Top. No, Mark Farner (guitar, lead vox), Mel Schacher (bass) and Don Brewer (drums, vox) will just have to content themselves with being one of the hippest bands in the late '60s and throughout the '70s, and one of the first to fill stadiums. It's cold comfort in the critical sense but when one ventures back past "We're An American Band" to investigate the band's early trio-only albums there's great throbbing masses of goodness waiting to be found. Case in point, their second album, Grand Funk, a blazing, most heavy paean to rock n' roll's ferocity, vivaciousness and emotional stickiness. From the black-minded jag of "Paranoid" to the he-man ache of "Winter and My Soul" to a tough reworking of The Animals' "Inside Looking Out," the band's second salvo is the blueprint for early Gov't Mule and myriad other bands in the past three decades that attempted to marry the tuneful with the blissfully heavy.

As many of their peers were busy putting daisies in rifles and trying to urge on the Age of Aquarius, Grand Funk put boot to ass, reconnecting with hard charging feel of '50s rock but slathered in volume and pummeling aesthetics. It's itchy music, full of worry and sex and none too anxious to sit in a peace circle. This is a band that eventually cut a tune (with Frank Zappa producing no less) called "Don't Let 'Em Take Your Gun," and there's plenty of that 'don't tread on me' spirit apparent on their 1969 sophomore release. Their Flint, Michigan blue collar roots show in subtle ways like the lyrics to "Mr. Limousine Driver," but also in a certain bar band tenacity, a need to get over with everyone in the room, whatever the size. It's not so much an eagerness to please as a will to power one hears on Grand Funk, and nearly 30 years on it's lost little of its potency. If "American Band" is as far as you've dabbled in the Railroad then this is a fine place to begin your journey up their steep, craggy, beautiful mountain.

Track Listing:

Got This Thing on the Move
Please Don't Worry
High Falootin' Woman
Mr. Limousine Driver
In Need
Winter and My Soul
Inside Looking Out

If this stunning live "Inside Looking Out" from 1969 doesn't turn your head, well, you may not really like this rock music thing all that much.

Here's the first section of the History of Grand Funk.

One more blast from Playboy After Dark in '69, with Hef, Barbie Benton and Tony Randall front row for a lipsynced "Mr. Limousine Driver" and "Please Don't Worry," which are way groovy nonetheless. Just watch the limber ass mansion audience if you doubt us! Now that is gettin' down, people!

Thanks to PackedFunk for posting these clips on YouTube so we might all enjoy them. Do a brother a solid and join him (and many of us JamBasers) in signing the online petition to get Grand Funk Railroad into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

[Published on: 11/30/08]

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Conjugal Burning starstarstarstarstar Sun 11/30/2008 04:58PM
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Conjugal Burning

gotta love the funk

HoodooVoodoo starstarstarstarstar Sun 11/30/2008 04:58PM
Show -5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
rster22 Sun 11/30/2008 06:26PM
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dude. STS9? i dont hear it

iwantstogetfunkedup Sun 11/30/2008 09:21PM
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Their version of Feelin Allright is great.

GeorgieP Mon 12/1/2008 06:42AM
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Damn, Grand Funk rocks out so friggin' hard.

futhepharmer starstarstarstarstar Mon 12/1/2008 08:55AM
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What a coincidence!

Just last week a coworker had brought in a remastered digipak that had the Greatest Hits CD and the Live 1971 Tour CD plus a DVD. Talk about musical memories! Grand Funk was the SHIT in their time. One of THE MOST underated bands of the seventies for sure.

KSUmphreak starstarstarstarstar Mon 12/1/2008 10:16AM
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Thisis article is fantastic. Great band, flattering piece; I thoroughly enjoyed reading/listening.

state1030 Mon 12/1/2008 10:43AM
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if grand funk is good enoungh to be homer simpsons favorite band then they're good enough for me

Road To Shambala Mon 12/1/2008 04:42PM
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Road To Shambala

the wild, shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner; the bone-crushing bass of Mel Schacher; the competent drum work of Don Brewer

MyFavBandIsTheBestYoursSucks starstarstarstarstar Tue 12/2/2008 09:23AM
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Good stuff! My old man's fav. Good memories!