Grand Funk

Grand Funk Railroad

Capitol, 1970

http://www.grandfunkrailroad.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/20/2017

Does anyone remember the age when bands would bring two albums out a year, just to make sure they were staying in the public eye? Oh, sure, some of them turned out to be filled with a lot of crap, but there were songs on there that had staying power, even to this day.

Well, I can't honestly say that any of the songs on Grand Funk (aka “The Red Album”), the second release from Grand Funk Railroad (and their second of 1969), had staying power – when was the last time you heard “Mr. Limousine Driver” on the radio? But, in all fairness, it turned out to be an improvement on their debut effort, even if it was still a lackluster release.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Where On Time had featured bassist Mel Schacher mixed well into the forefront, it could be argued that the mix on this disc featured all the musicians equally; it's sometimes hard to tell who's louder. Guitarist Mark Farner does whip off some hot licks, but there are times it seems like he's struggling to fill in the voids and begins improvising until it's time for the crescendoing finale.

In terms of songwriting, it definitely was looking up. Tracks like “Please Don't Worry,” “Winter And My Soul,” and “Paranoid” all have enough spark to keep the listener interested until the final fadeout, even though one could argue that these still lacked that magic spark to make them want to come back to these songs again and again.

There really isn't any track that fails on Grand Funk, though there are those that fall short of the mark. Their cover of the Animals' “Inside Looking Out” has its moments, but one wonders how much more powerful it would have been had it been chopped down to about five minutes in length. Likewise, “”Got The Thing On The Move” is okay, but nothing special, and both “In Need” and the shortened version of “Mr. Limousine Driver” just fall completely flat. (In contrast, “Mr. Limousine Driver” improves a little thanks to the inclusion of an extended version on the CD reissue.)

The CD reissue does also toss in a lost gem for the listener – why “Nothing Is The Same” didn't make the cut on this disc is a mystery. (It would, however, be heard one album later on Closer To Home.) Had this song replaced one of the weaker tracks, Grand Funk would have been a better album overall.

I know that bands have to have time to grow and mature, both in songwriting and in musicianship, and this was only their second effort. But while Grand Funk shows that the band had shown some improvement, there were many more lessons to be learned.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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