George Starostin's Reviews



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Tamara Inscoe <> (19.11.2000)

Thanks for the interesting reviews. Good to see that someone else agrees with me that Mark Farner, his singing, and his songwriting are both amateurish and annoying as hell. You hit the nail on the head when you called him "a pompous ass" - I met him a few years back, and that was my impression as well. As if that's not bad enough, you should check out the editorials on his web page, "". The man has some very odd views to say the least, and his editorials make about as much sense as his song lyrics (namely, none).

HOWEVER, in GFR's defense, they were just kids playing rock star during their early albums. There came a time in the history of Funk when Farner was no longer the only songwriter and singer. They hired some real producers and an excellent keyboardist (Craig Frost, now with Bob Seger). Their sound suddenly became much more smooth and professional. Brewer and Frost wrote some great tunes together (with real lyrics, no less!) Interestingly enough, it appears that drummer Don Brewer should have been the lead singer all along, as his voice actually has pitch and range as opposed to Farner's shrieks and screeches. As another big plus, both Brewer and Schacher are the polar opposites of Farner personality-wise; they're actually decent, down-to-earth guys, and Don Brewer in particular is loyal to a fault when it comes to his fans.

The best news of all is that Grand Funk Railroad has re-formed without the ever-obnoxious Mark Farner, and added seasoned musicians from 38 Special, Kiss and Bob Seger. The tour kicks off (and will likely kick ass) in West Palm Beach on December 2, 2000. Keep a close eye on this new incarnation of the band. I have a very strong feeling that with the new lineup, they're going to prove a force to be reckoned with.

Oktay Rasizade <> (20.11.2000)

Your comments about GFR are complete bs man ! Looks like you don't understand something in the music. You americans (sic - G. S.) are so simpleminded and think that europeans are so intelligent and try to be like us. May be we are better educated but we like GFR too, as Led Zeppelin, ELP and other great bands.

Sorry for rudeness buddy, but I have to wake you up and ASAP. You asked comments and you got one. And no responce please.

BTW Shinin' on is the worst GFR album IMHO,

Mark Gorski <> (09.01.2001)

The band had the Funk in their name as a kind of humerous parody. In Canada, there was this one railroad called the Grand Trunk Railroad. So they might have thought they were quite the funny guys, and in a grand move, they named themselves Grand Funk Railroad. Now you know why they have that Funk in  there.

Charles Oliver <> (19.06.2002)

Isn't this Homer Simpson's favourite band? Enough said!

Patrick McDaniel <> (11.11.2002)

I used to be a very big GFR fan... until I met them(Mark, Don and Mel) around 1997 or so at Universal Studios in Orlando FL. I had met Mark around 1988 and liked him and became an even bigger fan. I owned every single one of their albums as well as a few 45's and a rare LP with Mark and Don. In college I did a research paper on GFR and got an A, the teacher even asked additional questions about them because she was so impressed.

When I met them in FL Mel was the only one who I could say was friendly. Don was too wrapped up in impressing some young girls who somehow found their way back stage. Because I was so excited to finally meet the boys when I approached Mark I asked if he remembered me from 1988 and he said "Yeah right" and walked away. I realize I asked a dumb question but like I said... Anyway, since becoming a fan in the 80's I always defended them against those who repeatedly said they weren't talented. Now I don't acknowledge ever being a fan. Luckily I only wasted money on three of their CDs before I met them. I bet those young girls never purchased anything by them!!!

Thanks for remembering who made you what you are/where!!!

Richard Marrow <> (15.12.2002)

It seems to me that the older connotation of the word "funk" comes from a Flemish word for "fear" or "depression." This might have been the context that Mr. Farner was aiming for, like he was depressed about current events or afraid of the future.

<> (28.10.2003)

I don't understand your obsession with Grand Funk's name...I mean, the guys named the band whatever they wanted to. So what if they don't play funk? Focus on what they do play. No Grand Funk's music isn't as good as the Beatle's, but it's not as bad as u say it is. I am a 18 year old self-developed classic rock expert (in fact, i used your site to get a good start a few years ago) and after hearing I'm Your Captain on the radio, i looked into Grand Funk some more. I'm your Captain is a little overlong, but the song has three separate catchy melodies and a great base line. What's wrong with that? It's not really complex, but what's wrong with simple music? Hell, music shouldn't even recieve a general rating, but i'm not even gonna get into that.

David Carter <> (18.12.2003)

Grand Funk Railroad can be divided into 3 parts: Garage Band, Commercial Band, and the 'We owe a ton of money so we will make a vain attempt to cash in on the listener's nostalgia by making a series of shitty albums' Band.

Garage Band: the albums that belong in this group would be On Time, Grand Funk, Closer To Home, Live Album, Survival, and E. Pluribus Funk. I wish that I could say that all of these albums were great. They weren't. Nope, they all have their share of pretentious, preachy, repetitious songs that at this point in my life sound very dated. However, if you were to take the best songs of these albums and burn them on a CD (or two), you would be entertained for an hour and a half. And if you can conjure up the images of when Mark, Don, & Mel were youngsters, then it even makes the listening more interesting. I mean, I love the pictures of Mark Farner bent waaay over, eyes closed, with sweaty long hair that touches the stage, playing screeching, feedback-laden riffs in front of 100,000 stoned teenagers. And in the background was Mel with his huge afro and polka-dotted pirate shirt and Don with his HUGE Afro with no shirt, beating the shit out of his poor drum kit. It was pure rock fun with no additives or preservatives. The guitar was appropriately dirty and fuzzy, the bass was nice and juicy fat, and the drumming was just alright. Don't get me wrong, I think Don Brewer is a blast in concert. His positive energy on stage is what made these guys so much fun. The songs I would recommend from this era are: Time Machine, Can't Be Too Long, Into The Sun, T.N.U.C. (minus drum solo), Got This Thing On The Move, In Need (minus guitar solo at the end), Paranoid, Inside Looking Out, I'm Your Captain (I know the coda seems endless, but try listening to it on a long, boring, cross country road trip. It soothes the soul), Live Album (In Need, Mark Say's Alright, Inside Looking Out), absolutely nothing from the Survival album (yucch!), Footstompin Music, People Let's Stop The War (man I love wah-wah!), I Come Tumblin', and Loneliness.

Commercial Band: the albums that belong in this group are Phoenix, We're An American Band, Shinin' On, All The Girls In The World Beware, Caught In The Act (live album), Born To Die, and Good Singin', Good Playin'. The transition from the sweaty, hairy, stoned garage band into a well-polished, well-meaning, not too trashy, short-haired, pop band will take some 5 years to complete. And during that time, the Funksters came out with some decent that make you want to sing along around the campfire. Much like their Garage Band era, all of these albums were laced with pretentious, preachy Farner songs. However, Don Brewer came out from Mark's shadow to pen and sing some great tunes! In my opinion, these guys lost a lot of their original charisma when they went commercial. They were no longer known as the 'People's Band'. Now they were the Top-40 band. The songs that I would recommend from this era are: Flight of the Phoenix, Trying To Get Away, Rock N' Roll Soul, We're An American Band, Walk Like A Man, Bad Time, Born To Die, Dues, Big Buns, Pass It Around, and Some Kind Of Wonderful.

'We owe a ton of money so we will make a vain attempt to cash in on the listener's nostalgia by making a series of shitty albums' Band: the albums that belong in this group are Lives, What's Funk, and Bosnia. To be honest, I used to like the Lives album back in 1981. I can't explain why, I just did. Maybe it was because I felt sorry for them. Today, I never listen to any of these albums. No fat bass, no great melodies, no anything that is remotely intriguing. The worst of these albums is the Bosnia Live album. These guys actually did a fucking MEDLEY!!! I would not recommend any song from any of these albums. I hate even saying that, but it's the hard truth.

<> (15.02.2004)

One thing you have to give these guys was their constant commitment to becoming better musicians. Compare the first live album, musicianship-wise to Caught in the Act, Mark Farner's guitar playing, particularly on "Closer to Home" is much improved. If you listen to the original "Closer to Home" Farner is just barely holding it together- you can even hear someone say "all right, you've got it now". Craig Frost on keyboards was one of the rockinest, not wimpiest, and as far as his keyboards are concerned, he sounds right up front in the mix. Don Brewer's drumming just got better and better through the years- let alone his singing! I think your reviewing of the band, particularly on this album, is incorrect. I am a professional musician (drummer) and have been for more than 25 years and I respect the fact that these guys never rested on their laurels musically. Speaking from a drummer's perspective, Don Brewer was extremely under-rated but consistantly strove to become better and better. I would also have to say that the songs that you pick on the albums as being the best songs definitely don't jive with my musician's point of view. I have and always will be a fan of Grand Funk Railroad and to me you sound like the critics who went after this band in their early years. In closing, I believe that this band should be inducted into the Rock"n" Roll Hall of Fame someday, I'll take Grand Funk at their worst, over most of these bands now that you see on MTV.

<> (19.07.2004)

i have been a grand funk fan since they started , i seen them in louisville 1973 an i saw them in louisville at the ky fairgrounds football stadium 2001. without farner they still were good but i think mark farner is grand funk in spirit so mark forgive an go back with gfr an rock . larry bergeron your biggest fan jeffersonville indiana . please contact me mark would really like to talk to you  funk on the way iam 50.well iam going to see the band on august 5 but will miss mark from indiana see yu guys.

Bryan Green <> (20.08.2005)

Thanks for the gfrr comment page. I've been a gfrr fan ever since i was 9 yrs. old. (44 now). It seems as though people love the band or they hate thier guts. I listen to what mark as to say about the enviroment and about wars and politicians and such in his songs.If you viewed VH-1's behind the scene about the band, i believe you could come to realize the crap these guys went through to get where they are. I hate to see them going thier seperate ways, but at least Mark, Don and Mel...and we can't forget about Craig...have left some good memories for me and for countless of others.

Dan Foster <> (20.09.2005)

I've read most of your reviews,not all but it is interesting, kinda reminds me of the original critics in the begining, although it is good. What most people don't see is the obvious, Kinda like running a stop sign. Anyway, I have been a GFR fan simply because they don't fall into the norm, which is why people love to hate them. I recently saw them in Waco Tx. They did a good show, a lot of same songs with new great musicians, Max Carl took Marks place, they did a couple new songs, you'd be surprised how good GFR is live now. They're actually working on a new album, can't wait, LONG LIVE GRAND FUNK RAILROAD. got funk?

Dennis Kinkaid <> (22.01.2006)

I hate when politics rule everything. Lets face it, Grand Funk opened the door to most bands after them. Heck, even I tried to copy them with my garage band, they were fun and talented young men. All my friends had there albums and we jammed listening to them. Dont believe me, then watch a concert with GFR, then see ZZ Top just to name one, and see the stage presence, GFR got people to move. thank you all, Dennis


Bradley Loos <> (09.02.2001)

Grand Funk Railroad is often compared unfavorably to other (usually British) heavy rock outfits of the era on the basis of low instrumental virtuosity and crudeness of concept. The blues based reworkings of Cream and Hendrix (and Blue Cheer for that matter) are generally absent from GFR's sound and furthers the suspicion that this stuff is less than sincere. Yet it is precisely for these reasons that On Time is one of the most exciting metal LP's in the genre. On "Are You Ready" , "High on a Horse" and "Into the Sun" , Mark Farner flashes an Apache guitar tone Tony Iommni would trade a pinky for while Brewer and (especially) Schacher play with a garage band intensity that sacrifices none of the "funk" they proudly proclaim in their name. Great blown woofer production by Terry Knight will have sensitive Clapton fans reaching for their asbestos ear muffs.

Ken Berryman <> (02.01.2003)

Another group whose 1st album was their best - I don't listen to them much any more, but they sure infected me bigtime in 1970 and 1971 in my college years - saw them twice in concert and wasn't disappointed


Yoram Ariel <> (07.12.2003)

I am not a real, dedicated Grand Funk fan, but this record, popularly known as The Red Album is one of the greatest rock albums ever, it is hard, heavy and includes sections of sound effects that create a unique atmosphere. The long songs with their guitar solos have been an inspiration to many other rock bands that followed in the 70s. This album blew many peoples minds away back then and it still does! Unfortunately for Grand Funk, they never produced anything that comes close to this album, not before or after.

Rick Brown <> (12.12.2003)

Great review of the red Grand Funk album! But how could you have not mentioned the fantastic bass playing?. The bass tone and presence on 'Inside Looking out' is awesome, as it is on all of the songs. You just don't hear this kind of bass playing anymore. Turn it up!

Dave Carter <> (12.12.2003)

Man do I love this album! This is the album to own if you must own anything by these guys. They must of fired their previous sound engineer, because the tone of this album is crisp and clear. This album was at every friggin party I went to. It was the album that launched their careers into outer space.

'Got This Thing On The Move' is great for the first 3 minutes. I mean REALLY GOOD! The bass is nice and juicy. Especially the transition into...

I hear my baby knockin', at my front door/She knows what I got, she wants some more/And when it's all over, I start to come down/Think of the restin' place, I'll leave the ground .

That is too cool. Too bad after that verse, the song just gives up. They should have just quit.

'Please Don't Worry' is alright I guess. Who is the 'Jury' and who is 'Us'? I know, the adults (or the Fuzz) was the Jury and 'Us' was the long haired, dope-smoking, bell-bottom wearing teenager looking for acceptance. The music on this one is a little too erratic. The tempo changes are not that interesting and the bass isn't as thick and throbbing.

'High Falootin Woman' is pure fun! I didn't like it much as a kid. As an adult it is way more fun. I really don't know what the song is about, and I really don't care. The wah-wah pedal is warming up here.

'Mr. Limosine Driver' has Mr. Mel shaking the house again with his big fat bass. Nice catchy lyrics and decent guitar work from Mark.

'In Need' is one of my favorite songs on this album. Huge, throbbing bass, awesome guitar, a crazy man on the drum kit, and even an harmonica!. As a kid, I loved the lyrics. As an adult, they sound rather silly except for the last two lines:

If you got somebody You can trust to the very end If you do I wanna be like you Cuz you shore got a real good friend...friend...friend...

After these lines, hang on tight my friend, because Mark, Don, & Mel will rock your world for the next 60 seconds. If there was anytime in your life you want to stress test your stereo rig, it's now! After that, they screw up again when trying to end the song. Even as a kid, I really didn't find the guitar solo that interesting and as an adult I find it irritating. But then I just lift up the needle (or in today's world press Next) and it goes away!

'Winter And My Soul' is too mellow for this album. I never really loved it. The last minute is decent though. That is when Mark lets Mel and Don out of their cages so they can bash away for a spell. Then it just ends abruptly. Which is a good thing for these guys!

'Paranoid' is the ultimate bass junky song. Big, fat, gigantic, throbbing bass. I MEAN FAT!! I remember playing it once in my dorm room with my 125 watt Kenwood Amp and my 15 inch woofer speakers. Guys four floors below my floor could feel it! This is one of the premier Grand Funk songs in my opinion. It's edgy and weird and spooky and wonderful. The guitar tone is PERFECT!! It builds up a suspense that climaxes in a primal scream AAAHHHHHHOOOO, then the guys just go ape-shit! The wah-wah pedal must have been smoking after this one. And then the little helpless baby....

And now for the ultimate Grand Funk Railroad song. The one that best represents these dudes in all their sweaty, hairy glory

'Inside Looking Out' was originally an Animals songs. It was a good one. It was edgy and a little mean. Mark, Don, & Mel took this song and pumped it full of steroids and it became their signature song. (screw 'We're An American Band', this is the one!). As with 'Paranoid', this song builds up a suspense that pays off in spades. In my opinion, the guitar solo part of the song is one of the best ever recorded in rock n roll history. Notice I didn't say the guitar solo itself. Nope, the big fat bass and the cymbal laced drumming is a MUST for this guitar solo. All three together make this part grand! And just when you thought they would screw up the ending, Mark screams out...

You better come on up and get down with me I'll make you feel real good, just wait and see

and then a FANTASTIC harmonica ditty that is complemented with a fat bass line and kick butt drumming. I have over 500 albums. This song is a top 5. It represents all that was good with early 70's rock.

<> (07.06.2004)

THE RED ALBUM RULES!!!!!! 'Inside looking out' is the best, loudest and sexual deviancy that makes me high,hard, and puts my ass in the groove

michael long <> (28.01.2006)

When I first heard this record, I was, and still am a big beatle fan. I liked the Doors, Hendrix, and even very early Alice Cooper. But the red album really caught my attention as a i entered my second year of high school. It still is one of my favorite albums to listen to, as is the On Time lp. I left Grand Funk after their closer to home album, because they abandoned what we liked about their music. it was raw, gritty, and heavy (without using a constant fuzz on the guitar). Mark Farner was actually the person that got me into long hair(not the beatles) as I went from 1972 until 1979 without a major cut. I bought a few more of their lps after CtoH, but sold them to used record stores. I believe they deserve more respect from critics and the music world. They sure made my life more enjoyable for a couple of years-Thanks GFR -Michael


dean <> (12.07.2003)

I guess Spinoza was right about thought when he said each man sees things right in his own mind. It's interesting that one review from someone can be the exact opposite of somebody else's. Closer to home is what is most likely in the music stores in the grand funk section and for good reason. 'I'm your captain' is a classic even though it drags on too long in the end. This is one of my favourite albums because it is original and reveals their raw style. They played music being themselves and not trying to be anything else. The essence of GFR is to play music as they feel like playing it. They never were meant to be sophisticated. Their essence showed up on this album. They were completely original. Its when they try to be something other than they are is when they screw up and disappoint fans.

<> (17.05.2004)


richard snow <> (27.06.2004)

I never was a huge GFR fan. In fact the only album I owned by them was this one. The only song on the album I really loved was/is "I'm Your Captain". I consider it a rock classic.

When I listen to this song it brings me right back to 1970 and all that was going on in life back then- you know how that is...

And if you think about the coda- "I'm getting closer to my home" and the way it's blended in with the orchestration, well I guess you can apply alot life's philosophical twist and turns. We're all getting "closer to our home"...

Didn't mean to get all soupy- but those are my amateur thoughts. Thanks for reading this.


Michael H. <> (26.07.2005)

What is being reviewed here: original vinyl pressing? Or compact disc? I know it’s the compact disc (I have a copy…somewhere.) but these comments: “The production is nearly abysmal; sometimes it seems like the engineers just didn't bother to separate the tracks at all, and the audience constantly manages to outscream the playing (although, granted, in a few places their maniacal screams actually manage to raise the tension - in a cheap way, of course, like sometimes behind the screen laughter in sitcoms forces you to laugh, but hey, GFR are a "cheap" band, it's adequate).”, “…close your eyes on disgraceful production…” Does the compact disc have the liner note as follows: “In order to {present} a true historical documentation of this group in person, editing of any nature has been avoided. The musical content of all selections has been left totally unchanged from the original tapes. There has been no technical assistance added to this recording such as echo and all events are presented here exactly as they occurred… This album is an actual live recording of GRAND FUNK RAILROAD in concert. It has been assembled to be played in sequence from Side One through Side Four without interruption….Total playing time is one hour and twenty minutes.” Many years later, whenever a book (“Book of rock lists”) is done, or a magazine article is done about ‘Best and Worst Live Albums’, this is said to be one of the worst live albums: Grand Funk (you know the 3rd part) had the distinction of being a ‘talentless’ band (read that somewhere) but this live album sounds horrible. The vinyl pressings of the live album are supposed to sound horrible. This albums trademark is ‘poor sound quality’, probably because the engineers didn’t turn down any tracks (overmodulation, distortion) or…is one sure about the non-mixed/no separation. The pressings of this live album sound so bad now because maybe the condition of the vinyl, the needle, the speakers, or/and the stereo system. It’s been repeatedly said this live albums sounds ‘horrible’ for one reason or another. That’s this albums trademark. Some years later, when GFR were being put to CD (but only in ‘import’ form) I picked me up a copy of this live album, and it seems that the album had been indeed edited, and the CD has greatly improved the sound quality (tracks from this live cd appear on GFR comp cd’s) but added bits and pieces of extra tape and stuff (as best as I can remember) but this is what I remember and I have to find the articles and what they say. So because of the reputation of the ‘sound quality’ of this recording, I noticed that was not really addressed here. So I just decided to point it out. Thank you. Still a great album.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (29.03.2006)

This is a pretty good album, raw and uncompromising, kind of the No sleep 'til Hammersmith of it's day. It's kind of unique in that it's an unbroken recording of a concert as opposed to a series of live recordings that are taken from various gigs and touched up with minor overdubs in the studio. At least, I think it's a raw account, it's what the sleeve says. It kind of suffers because of this, coz there's just too much chat from Mark and whoever it is that introduces the gig. I don't object to Mark talking long monologues of advice to the audience, it's quite touching, really, and I've been in enough gigs where the artist chunders on. The actual advice he gives is heartfelt and, I believe, genuine. It's ok, really. I just don't want to hear the same chat for the rest of my life !

Aside from that, it's a very listenable album and I have the advantage of never having heard the three albums that preceded it so these tracks stand alone. And by golly, they not only stand, they kick and they howl and they jump and they dance in an unmelodious river of three piece noise that is an experience to listen to. Although the band has limitations, these are blasted away by the sheer unbridled joy of playing and the energy level rarely dips, except in those monologues AAAAARRRRGGGHHHH !!! SHARRRAAAAPP !! Mel Schacher's bass playing and tone proves a revelation here, he fulfils an Entwistle / Bruce role without the flash and skill, but with infinitely more power and volume - which is saying something !

There's such a delay at the start that one may wonder if there's something wrong, but once ARE YOU READY starts, you forget all that. It's a great way to start and straightaway you get all the elements of Grand Funk as they were then coming into play, Farner and Brewer singing, that odd but engaging guitar tone, the fuzzy but depth charge bass of Mel Schacher and the flashy but basic drumming. Screams, both of the band and the young fans abound and it's all very exciting. It's better, just, than the Thin Lizzy song of the same name. As is their PARANOID IMO a much better one than that of the Sabs. It really does sound disturbed but it's a great effort, for three instruments it's really inventive and singable. Thematically it could be about Roky Erikson, Skip Spence, Syd Barrett, Gene Clark and Peter Green all rolled into one and I think it's a veiled anti drug song to the youthful stoned admirers. IN NEED seems a little calmer after those first two, even though it has a harsh tone guitar wise.......then it goes mad ! A wild harmonica / bass / drum jam then ensues and it's rather enervating, before an even longer jam where the band manage to make a rather boring passage sound truly brilliant. I don't know how, but it is good. I even like the solo guitar piece at the end, though it does go on a bit. It's funny, this album shares the same titles with a few top flight bands and HEARTBREAKER does the same with Led Zeppelin. But any resemblence is purely in the title coz Zep's version pummels this one in every way except maybe the words. Actually, this is a " nice " soft ballad, well, as soft as Funk got in those days live. Because it's got a raw tone again. I like the song well enough. INSIDE LOOKING OUT is perhaps the weakest song on the album. I don't find it particularly inventive though it does end in a rousing way. Not the best prison song I've heard. MEAN MISTREATER kind of is a better re - hash of HEARTBREAKER without being so tearjerky. Nice use of electric pianos, one of those awfully underrated instruments, it nearly always adds unique colours and I have to say that Mark Farner's keyboard skills are rarely commented upon. I like his playing coz he's primarilly a guitarist, so he brings a different approach. Surprize, surprize, I think MARK SAYS ALRIGHT is a fantastically funky piece. When I first heard this back in '81, it gave me the idea of crossing certain African rhythms with heavy rock. It happens now and again ! It's a good time throwaway that got saved and unfortunately doesn't have the good sense to finish quickly. If it didn't depart from funky jungle to more of what's already in evidence, it would be a classic. TNUC is another great track and it fizzes along with brio. It even sports a half interesting drum solo. The first half of the song has my favourite riff on the album, the bass riff is sensational, simple, direct, tuneful and clever. I can't get it out of my head. The second part is just wild and thrashy and exciting. INTO THE SUN has the most mesmerizing opening of any of the songs here. The lead and bass guitar interplay is wonderful and I wish it would last the whole 12 minutes. But it doesn't and though it's an ok track that I do like, it neither beats nor sustains the glories of that opening 2 or so minutes.

It seems that Funk, like some of the new breed of bands of the time, plugged that gap between hippie idealism and good time hedonism and did so loudly and crudely. It made for some good no frills heavy rock. This isn't the most tuneful of albums overall, but it carries enough other worthwhile ingredients for that not to be as big an issue as it could have been coz when all is said and done, LIVE ALBUM (the monologues notwithstanding ) more than bears repeated listenings.


<> (17.12.2002)

I don't think there were any "female backing vocals" on Survival. I think it was all Mark.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (04.05.2006)

It was the advent of the Beatles and their subsequent success that made the prospect of a career in rock and pop music something real and achievable. Thousands of youngsters across not only the US of A and the UK, but indeed the globe, could now consider a career in which being oneself and actively expressing this in a way that was creative, fun and satisfying was important. Before this, groups were just happy to make a record ( a record ) if they got that far and few expected to last more than a couple of years. The term 'teenager' was only coined in 1947 and it was a recent idea that childhood and youth were actually important in and of themselves. It is quite striking that when one looks at photos and paintings of all the years that are recorded prior to the 50s in the western world, kids looked essentially like their parents ! They wore little versions of what their parents wore and were kind of expected to grow up to be like them. Now, that may seem like a massive generalization and there are plenty of pockets of the world where that does apply [ I know. I come from such a background ] but it is undeniable that for better or for worse, something began to change amongst young people in the post war period. Lots of employment was created for writers, singers, instrumentalists, engineers, producers, roadies, [ drug dealers...ha ha - just choking ! ], critics, editors, technicians, etc, etc. However, even by 1971, the year SURVIVAL was released, the rock scene was still relatively new and whatever rules had been in place before the " revolution " in attitudes, practice and technology, had been either overthrown or were being so venomously challenged. Despite the mental breakdowns and the deaths that had occurred by this time { virtually all of which were seen as being drug or booze assissted, if murder hadn't been the cause }, unlike all the professions that had hitherto existed, there were no or certainly few rules or boundaries in rock. In fact, the feeling was that almost anything went.

A band like Grand Funk Railroad would have been inconceivable ten years previously { Keith Richards once commented on how hard it was to make records when he said that in his day, a recording contract was like a voice from heaven ! } but ours is a constantly changing world and by '71, putting your thoughts and opinions to music was de rigeur, that's what rock was essentially about, it was one of the few rules. It was the chief way the masses communicated. The experimentation with drugs, sex, politics and alternative lifestyles would've happened anyway, I suspect, but not with the same speed or impact that records, interviews and gigs brought. Grand Funk showed both the positive and negative sides of this phenomenon and few groups were so hated by critics and peers yet so adored by their fans. If LIVE ALBUM's raucous wildness is anything to go by, SURVIVAL is where the sound of the Funk started to tone down a bit. But that doesn't mean that this is a soft album, it's not Zeppelin 3, if you catch my drift. But there was a definite shift, the desire to do something slightly different as much as anything else. Their svengali style manager / producer Terry Knight was very Beatle influenced and covered the drums with cloths, Ringo style, to muffle the sound slightly, Mark Farner gets a little more inventive on the guitar and Mel Schacher remains the lynchpin. The album is a mix of heavy stuff, idealistic, hopeful songs and the downright depressing. I WANT FREEDOM kind of shows the good and bad side of the Funk, on the bad is that incessant chatter at the start. LIVE ALBUM kind of suffered in the same way. Now, one of the more endearing things that crept into alot of recordings of the period was the little mutterings and bits of chat that were at the start and ends of songs - the Beatles did lots of that even before LET IT BE. But the Funk take it to lengths as yet undreamed by man ! Are we really meant to listen to a minute of inconsequential studio chat for the rest of our lives ? On my tape and CD I just cut that bit out coz it loses any potential charm when you've heard it 127 times; it's not like a quick " I've got blisters on my fingers !! "....The song itself is glorious in it's vibrant sound, with Farner just bursting to tell us something good...he almost can't contain himself and without actually telling us that God is the one responsible for his insights, it's kind of there, implicit in the way he puts things across. But they could apply to any number of positives. The third verse throws a kind of cynical edge on proceedings though, which balances things out. I think I CAN FEEL HIM IN THE MORNING is one of the most beautiful songs written. The idea of getting kids to give their thoughts on God is quite interesting. For better or worse, the Funk weren't just prepared to pay lip service to 'the kids' - here they are saying that their thoughts really do matter. The chatter here is in context and bears repeated listens. Funnilly enough, even when I was an atheist, I really liked this song. The song is essentially one of empathy, feeling what soldiers in war are feeling, as well as those without hope - and not getting remote and cut off coz you're ok. The chorus is beautiful, reminding those that need to know, that the almighty does actually care and we're meant to too. If one really gets deeply into the song, one may find it to be quite horrifying, but often, empathy is......It carries a gospel influenced sound as opposed to an attempt at gospel itself and I think it's well thought out and arranged. COMFORT ME is sort of ambiguous, much of it seems like a description of a conversion and given that Farner was a christian, a conversion to christ. But once again, because there's no specifics, it could be taken in a variety of ways. The three songs that I've commented on so far remind me of the way Melanie [ Safka ] utilized the gospel sound and message when she was following Pete Townshend's { and Ronnie Lane's } guru. Her songs could be taken as christian if you didn't know she was a Baba lover. That late 60s / early 70s period saw lots of experimentation with well known and not so well known religions and naturally, musicians got caught up in this. Mark Farner was different in this regard, though. He became a follower of Jesus as a kid, of his own free will. He says that his Dad died when he was 9 and his mum was an alcoholic who then remarried an alcoholic so he looked in a surprizing direction for strength and direction and found it in Christ. This tended to inform much of his writing and the climate of the times were such that it wasn't the big deal issue being a christian in a rock band or part of the rock scene that it had been for the 50s rockers like Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis and others or would be for future rockers like U2 or members of the Alarm. Indeed, there were some fascinating " religious " { for want of a better term } LPs around the time by mainstream bands and artists { JOHN WESLEY HARDING by Bob Dylan, TOMMY by the Who, CEREMONY by Spooky Tooth, TOGETHER WITH HIM by the Moonrakers, MASS IN F MINOR by the Electric Prunes - though that was hardly them - SING CHILDREN SING by Lesley Duncan, to name but a few }, some of which were pretty ' in yer face', some of which were more oblique. As far as christianity went, in Farner's mind much of the hippy and post hippy sensibility chimed with his beliefs and there was none of the future venom that people like Dylan and Bono were to encounter. Not in '71. Not for his lyrics, anyway. But one of the major criticisms that came Grand Funk's way was that their music lacked invention and subtlty. Their version of GIMME SHELTER is a case in point, really. Drummer Don Brewer said that the Stones were one of the few bands one could still cover with credibility and they were listening incessantly to LET IT BLEED and he suggested they do the tune " in our own way ". It brings up an age old debate about covers; how do you do them ? Do you simply regurgitate the original or do you take it to a completly different place ? The funny thing with Grand Funk is that they succeed in doing neither ! Because this is just a gut busting, buzz saw bass version, loud and heavy. It lacks the apocalyptic menace of the Stones version and there's nothing creative about it. I do like it, for what it's worth, but I'm afraid the original kills this one and for me it's the weakest song on the album. The lyrics are not out of place on SURVIVAL though. Nor are those of FEELIN' ALRIGHT, the other cover. The title is a question though, and it's a really paranoid, depressing song. Beautifully played though and the guitar solo is so simple and effective. COUNTRY ROAD is brilliant, a lazy, almost drugged song about escaping the rat race and hustle and bustle of life in the city. It was kind of the fashion then for rich rock stars to retreat to their farms and country homes. It may not have lasted long and it sort of was the death knell of the hippy dream [ mind you, McCartney had long ago ploughed that furrow in FIXING A HOLE and there was nothing escapist there ]. In the song, that cynical edge rises to the fore. You can almost feel the struggle that it's writer is going through. Some good ensemble playing is capped by a great solo. ALL YOU GOT IS MONEY seems cynical to extremes........except that countless rockers, popsters, soulsters, bluesmen etc would attest to it's truth. It may be crassly put, but then, Mark Farner was rarely poetic. I like his lyrics coz they can be to the point, but Dylan he wasn't. He rarely wove landscapes of startling imagery, but he did articulate facts well. A read of many music biographies will bear out what is outlined in this song. It would be a good song even if it ended where the lyrics end, but then the band launch into a wicked instrumental section that is more inventive, exciting and breathtaking than anything on the previous album. And for good measure, they do the whole shebang again, with random screams that, if anything, heighten the excitement of what is a really tuneful solo.

Although the Funk were keen to stick a finger or two up at the critics that regularly savaged them [ Funk crushing was a regular press pastime in the early 70s ], I think that some of the two years of constant mauling had the effect on them of pushing them to improve their music. Whatever one thinks of SURVIVAL, they certainly thought about things. And then acted.


<> (18.05.2003)

Certainly not a fair review.... It is a very energetic and still lyrical album of GFR and the last song of the album, "Loneliness", is definetely epic, but not the way you describe it... Exactly the opposite! great lyrics, great music, fabulous vocals- Farner at his best (? almost).

Thanks for giving me the chance to express my opinion.

dean <> (12.07.2003)

'foot stompin music' - memorable and a rock classic

'people lets stop the war' - powerful and original

'upsetter' - i'm upset for them wasting a spot on that album

'no lies' - garbage, too simplistic, he wrote that one while he was sitting on the can one day

'I come tumblin' - messy, probably written it after tumbling down the stairs recieving a cuncussion

'loneliness' - pretentious crap. can't stand that piece.


Tagbo Munonyedi <> (08.05.2006)

Well, you'd be disappointed too if this were 1980 and you were 17 and stuck out in Nigeria and had been immersed in some great heavy rock for 14 months in the midst of the disco boom, discovering many great albums and bands along the way and then you'd read that the Funk were America's own Status Quo, whom you loved, and that they knocked out album after album of 'tuneless heavy metal' and then a month later in a city where rock was the minority sport you suddenly see an album by said band. It was too far beyond my dreams at the time.......As far as heavy metal rock goes, this album is a fake, a crud, and I was so let down ( by my own expectations, really ) that even casting my mind back to previous disappointments { Jethro Tull's HEAVY HORSES and Styx's CORNERSTONE } that turned out to be winners didn't help. It's not as though it starts off badly, the opener, FLIGHT OF THE PHEONIX, while not being what I wanted was still a good piece. But it just died after that ! However, the key to me enjoying the album was to get away from what I'd read about Grand Funk ( I also acquired SURVIVAL ) and take it just as an album. In limbo almost. And from there it grew on me and of the LPs that I have of theirs, I dig this one most. I don't know whether this signalled a complete change in direction, but it's possibly the lowest rated of their albums. The band members themselves don't particularly rate it but they do put it's mellow sound down to the fact that they were in the middle of a war with their producer and manager, Terry Knight, and they were just tired and really their minds weren't on the project in hand. Also, they had Craig Frost guesting on organ [ he plays on 9 of the 10 songs ] and his playing added a different dimension, even though they'd used keyboards before in an inventive way.

Back to that opening instrumental, it's an inventive, zippy little thing that features Farner on organ, some fantastically emphatic drumming from Don Brewer, some of Mel Schacher's melodic yet powerful lynchpin bass playing and some crazy violin from Doug Kershaw of the Sir Douglas Quintet. Apparently, he refused to hear how the tune went, he just went in and did the overdub. It's a great piece too. One of the best instrumentals I've heard. The hassles that the band were having with their manager Terry Knight turn up all over the place, consciously or subconsciously, in TRYING TO GET AWAY, SOMEONE, RAIN KEPT FALLING, FREEDOM IS FOR CHILDREN and GOT TO FIND ME A BETTER DAY, and this tension between what was going on in their collective existences and what they wanted to see America become produces some fantastic musical explorations - whether the irony was lost on them is anyone's guess. TRYING TO GET AWAY is a song on two different levels, about leaving home, but a veiled jibe at their ex manager whom they'd fired coz he was ripping them off big time. It's turned out to be a good song ( it also marks the first appearence of Craig Frost ) with a very thick muddy sound { I think the band produced the LP themselves } but that wasn't my initial reaction !! At first I hated it for not being heavy. Now I think it's a fine number. SOMEONE sort of appears to be a sad song of love's rejection and one way affection - but again it can be seen as a comment on the broken down relationship between band and ex boss. I really like Frost's thick organ sound and this is one example of a band that had a distinct sound that added an instrument and took on another distinct sound. Not to everyone's liking, but bands do mutate and change, or at least they did then. SHE GOT TO MOVE ME deals with a subject that so many in rock have dealt with on all sides the debate, that of sex between adults and under age girls { although it's not exclusively confined to girls }. While the likes of Motorhead, Wishbone Ash, Led Zep, Kiss, Aerosmith and others tended to be on the " lighten up, what's wrong with it ? " side, you had the Police, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap and here, the Grand Funk presenting the "young chick as the predator" side ( which is partly why the other side of the debate saw nothing wrong with it ). Having worked for 23 years with teenage girls, I can tell you it's a real hot potato and while adult guys should damn well know better and take a more responsible line, the truth is that I've known many 12, 13 , 14, year olds that look 25 or go out of their way to look adult and lie about their age. What's surprizing about this song is that it's author is actually Don Brewer { Farner wrote the music }, whom you'd think would have taken a different line, given some of his later output.......mind you, he refuses to acknowledge any responsibility once the discovery has been made ! It's a great song though, it's rasping solo was the only one to initially grab me. RAIN KEPT FALLING is another lovely song, sad, reflective and surprizingly evocative of misery on a rainy day. I think it's another disguised Terry Knight hassle song. I JUST GOTTA KNOW is an energetic groove in which all the instruments seem to speak as one voice while still being distinct. It's words throw up for me one of the great things about the last 50 years of music, which is that expression of the heart. So much of the music of this period in the west rested on the feelings and opinions of the writers of the day. Some of them had a poetic gift, some like Mark Farner didn't. So he just tended to put his feelings to music. But in some ways, his could be a more potent cocktail because he said things straight and there was little interpretation needed like there could be with Townshend, Dylan and their ilk. The sort of chorus of this song is glorious, even if I do find it corny. Actually, the whole lyric is corny, but as Farner said in an interview last year, they really believed as young twenty - somethings that they could bring about a better society. Their dealings with Terry Knight may have blunted the scene with irony, but it didn't stop them believing.......well, not at that point. It stands to reason that in an arena where your opinions were your selling point, that those opinions and indeed, your life, would at some point be open to severe scrutiny. And so it is with SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO DIE. I have really mixed feelings about this one. From the lines " the world is full of pollution..." on, predictably, I have some sympathy with what he says ( though, not being poetic, he could have put it better, says I ). But I think he does himself a real disservice up to that point. Now, I believe that God communicates with the human race, { prayer would be a bit of a waste of time if he didn't, actually } and more than that, that he really wants that two way relationship with us. So I don't have an intrinsic problem with a person saying that God or Christ has spoken to them. It's a given to a christian that God speaks.......however, there is one major rider here. One has to test what has supposedly been said and weigh up the truth of it. Coz many that claim God has spoken have been found wanting when put to the test. And if you weigh up Farner's claim that Jesus spoke to him about overpopulation, given that a) God told the human race to populate the earth b) If man was more equitable in sharing resources, everyone would have ample space, then, among other considerations, I have to say I just do not believe Mark on this one. That, IMHO, he got it so wrong presents real dangers, more so in some ways than certain groups / artists telling young people that LSD was ok. There is actually something almost racist in the conclusion drawn about overpopulation. Note that he doesn't say America has the " problem ", but that Jesus has told him about brothers " in a far and distant land ". He didn't mean Wales !! What a mess ! Paradoxically, it's set to a jaunty little tune that whizzes by quite nicely before Frost suddenly gurgles up this thick organ and it becomes the better part of this rather weird song, slow and ponderous. This ponderous mood continues into the brilliant FREEDOM IS FOR CHILDREN; pretty much everything the words say are true except the refrain that freedom is for children ! In mitigation, he does ask why it can't be for him too. The straightforwardness and lack of poetry recalls JUST GOTTA KNOW. Musically, it couldn't be more different. It's slow and saturated with tension and clever, subtle dynamics. I've never felt that music has to be predictably like it's subject matter ( you know, sad words, sad song ), but by the same token, much powerful music is. And the mood is neatly carried by Farner's guitar, Frost's lightly nudging organ and Schacher and Brewer's gentle noodlings, gradually whipping to a controlled climax that ends as the organ gets louder and louder. Phew ! Almost anything would be a relief after that and GOT TO FIND ME A BETTER DAY is. I find this album to be full of sharp and delightful melodies and this song has the most memorable and intoxicating. It's a great song, Don Brewer's lyrics summing up their current plight better than anything on the album, Mel Schacher's bass virtually creating a counter melody. The song sounds so pissed off and demonstrates the essential differences between his escapist tendencies and Farner's hopefulness when confonted with the same obstacles. He's also a more poetic lyricist. It's my favourite song on the album, Farner remarked of Brewer that he could write lyrics but not music or melodies, so he'd do them.It was due to some contractual snafu that Brewer couldn't be credited on the sleeves though he got the royalties. Whatever you may say about the Funk, they certainly made the most of the little they had. Props to them also for the zippy harmonica solo and the singing which, especially on the run out, is a treasure. Brewer rated ROCK AND ROLL SOUL as the only Funk - like track and as such, the only good one on the album. I disagree, but given my first reaction to this album, I won't hold that against him. It is a catchy good song though. As indeed, is the album. I don't know what direction they went in after this, I think the albums of theirs that I have represent end of phase one, transition and mutation into the Frost period. But I think that they were a good band that amply demonstrate why popular music in it's various forms became the dominant cultural influence that it has become and remained. A little knowledge may be a dangerous thing, but, hey, even ordinary boys with ordinary thoughts need them aired. From time to time....


<> (30.07.2002)

On the We're An American Band Album Don Brewer Sings the lead on the 'WAAB' and 'Black Licorice'.

Pete Gratta <> (21.11.2002)

Mark Farner didn't sing 'Black Licorice'.........Don Brewer did. [Yeah, somebody already told me, I guess, just don't remember where - G.S.] Site rating......piss poor at best.   )o:


Doug <> (06.12.2002)

Sorry, pal, but that was Rundgren's solo on 'Locomotion'. And American Band, in my opinion, is far better, song for song, than Shinin On.

<> (07.03.2003)

Woah, Nellie!!! Sorry, retro-pal, Farner played the lead on 'LOCO-MOTION'... Todd played the strings on 'CARRY ME THROUGH' while Mark played the keys....

<> (13.03.2004)

To settle the matter once and for all, Mark Farner played the "Locomotion" solo in "real time". Afterwards, Rundgren "fractured" it, using a vari-speeder and octave divider.


Doug <> (06.12.2002)

You think this tripe is one of their best? Can I please have a sample of the drug you were on when you listened to it? Yecccchhhh!


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<> (15.02.2004)

"Born to Die" was written by Farner the morning after the death of his cousin Terry in a motorcycle accident, exactly as the lyrics of the song relate (Farner always was the most prosaic lyricist in 70's hard rock!).

As to your astonishment concerning the band's decision to work with FZ on the next release, well, to me "Genevieve" (for example) sounds a great deal like the type of sophisticated funk that Zappa was purveying around the time of Hot Rats clear through Waka Jawaka or even Apostrophe for that matter (minus the horn section and 4/5 of the complex chord changes, of course). I think he related to them at that level (rather than for their "macho" sentiments or semi-reactionary political views), and perhaps also because neither GFR and FZ were exactly "serious" critical favorites in the 70's.

Brewer is definitely the "winner" here. "Dues" and "Love Is Dyin'" are two of his best ever compositions. Farner is strong as well, but somewhat on autopilot ("Sally" is yet another rewrite of the "Time Machine"/"High Falootin' Woman",etc. dynamic, this time crossed with a bit of the "Bad Time" commercial formula).

The biggest flaw with this record seems to be the haphazard sequencing of the tracks. Side One (in 1976, anyhow) is front-loaded with bluesy, slow-paced tracks ("Born to Die", "Talk to the People"), whereas Side Two has too many fast-paced, sometimes rather generic, rockers ("Politician" loses what little impact it had to start with by coming directly after "Love Is Dyin'").

Overall, I agree with the 10 you assign it. A solid slab of classic later 70's hard rock that falls well short of messianic brilliance (to say the least!), but has certainly aged better than contemporary dreck by Foreigner or REO Speedwagon. At least GFR always had a recognizable identity--they were never faceless perpetrators of soulless corporate rock! Born To Die is a dignified, spirited swansong for the American Band...and truly the end of the line. Or at least it damn well should have been!

P.S. 2003 marks the first official appearance (in the US, anyhow) of Born To Die on CD, and, as a bonus track, contains a lengthier, rawer, studio-rehearsal take of "Genevieve" that is even tighter, sweatier, and "funkier" than the released version!


Doug <> (06.12.2002)

'Just Couldn't Wait' is brainless Farner repetition with a catchy beat. 'Pass it Around' is another example of Brewer's superior songwriting. More than worth a mention when discussing this album.

Mike Healy <> (21.12.2002)

In an interview with the guys a few years ago, it came as a surprise to them that Frank Zappa actually wanted to produce them! He was involved in a lawsuit with his manger and MGM Records at the time, shortly followed by another with Warner Brothers, so he was creatively in limbo, but wanted something to do in the meantime. It is a shock, though, to see that credit on the album cover! But they were fans of his work, and they said that he was great to work with.

After the band split up, Frank asked Don Brewer to be the drummer for his band. Brewer thought about it, but eventually turned the offer down. Considering that Frank would have replaced Terry Bozzio with Don Brewer is testament to his drumming, and proof that he is one of the greatest but sadly underrated rock drummers (along with Neal Smith and Bobby Caldwell).

As for the album itself, I don't play it all that much. I mean, how can a song like "1976" hold up after all these years? Nevertheless, the band sounds like they're having a lot of fun in the studio, even though they knew it was probably going to be their last go-round. And not without some humor: when you play "Big Buns", you can sing along to it (as you think of Jennifer Lopez!).

David Dickson <> (24.06.2004)

Oh, you couldn't be more wrong, George. If we didn't have guns, the KING OF ENGLAND could just come over any time he liked and push us around! You want that to happen? Huh??? DO YA?


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David Dickson <> (24.06.2004)

"You talk as if you have nothing to do with this. This sickness. . . that you call FREEDOM. . . has reduced my country to gangsters. . . and prostitutes. You have taken EVERYTHING from us. There is nothing left. Ptooey!" (spits at Harrison Ford's face)

--Gary Oldman with a Russian accent, Air Force One, 1996

Dude, that is an AWESOME movie. I just saw it for the first time yesterday. Probably sociopolitically inaccurate as all get out, but you never know. . .

Oh, and this album blows. But you knew that already.

You know why I think most of your '80's reviews are negative? Most of the mainstream '80's albums you have reviewed are by old smelly dinosaurs from the '70's trying desperately to stay hip. The few you have of actual '80's bands are actually pretty fair. You didn't rip Tears for Fears, and that's good. Now, the next step for you is to review *BLANK*. Their albums *BLANK* and *BLANK* are pretty *BLANK*ing good. If you don't review them, then you're just a *BLANK*. :)


Mike Healy <> (11.03.2004)

According to the band, EMI/Capitol records actually put this set out without their knowledge, so it was on the shelves before they even knew it. Apparently, they were also going to release an accompanying video to go along with this, but it never happened; all that's come out was a video for "We're An American Band", seen mostly on VH-1.

I saw them at the Puyallup Fair when they toured in 1998, and it was one of the best shows I have ever been to. They played for a n hour and a half, and it rocked nonstop. They had a fourth guy named Howard Eddy on keyboards and occasional 2nd guitar, but he kept the volume down to a dull roar, and wisely stepped out of the way when they did "Inside Looking Out" and didn't add keyboard solos to it, unlike Craig Frost. I have to agree, though, that the show on this disc doesn't rock as hard as when I saw them.

After the 1998 tour, they seemed poised for a real comeback this time, unlike the 1981 reunion (which is best forgotten). They had a "Behind The Music" special on them in 1999, plus the 30 Years Of Funk 3-CD set, with a few new songs at the end, but for some reason, Mark Farner decided to go ahead with his solo career (I knew something was up when I saw a disclaimer from the record company and Mel and Don underneath Mark's thank-you notes in the boxed set). So now there's a Grand Funk Railroad out there featuring Mel and Don with Bruce Kulick on guitar, Max Carl on vocals, and Tim Cashion on keyboards, and they've been playing the state-fair circuit doing mostly Grand Funk Railroad songs. Mark Farner has his own band, and he's been touring with them and playing...well, mostly Grand Funk Railroad songs.

<> (23.07.2004)

I think Bosnia was the best 2-set ever. Killer, I don't see how anyone could hear different.


Tagbo Munonyedi <> (21.05.2006)

This is an album one doesn't see anymore ! It's actually quite good, though to me not a patch on GFR and I do really like SURVIVAL and PHEONIX. Not many folk leave hot bands and go on to create great works. And Mark doesn't here but this is a very listenable album that needs to be taken on it's own merits - such as they are !

I must agree with George about HE LET ME LOVE, I can't stand it ! Now, I am a christian and happy to be so and I value the input of people of faith throughout rock's history. And there have been many, some significant, some totally unheard of in the wider sphere.That doesn't mean that all such songs are good, just as all songs that extol the benefits of drugs or those that highlight injustice or love aren't good. Farner wrote a number of beautiful songs in Grand Funk that had a definite christian backbone [ plus a few crappy ones ] and I respect him for that. The words of this song aren't what let it down, it's the music. It's boring, bland, and unadventurous and songs that go down the path of the message being more important than the overall song really do try my patience because the song inevitably loses and that has the ironic result of killing the message coz few people like to subject themselves to what they consider to be rubbish ( ok, ok, so maybe you can't hurt a masochist....) ! In fairness to Farner, he went on record ( if you'll pardon the pun ) stating that he did not see himself as God's spokesman. And though he'd become a christian when he was a very young lad and Christ's ways and message and outlook informed so much of his work, there was also a certain lukewarming at play and it wasn't until 1983 that substance really joined with form and he fully embraced the Lord. There's a big difference between adopting the teaching of Christ and actually living the life, as Dylan, Clapton, Little Richard and others have found out. They should go hand in hand.....Alot of people may not like the words of gospel but many of the same can enjoy the songs if the music is attractive and uplifting ( or for that matter, attractive and melancholy ). I mean, at the height of their explorations into black magic, the Stones dug gospel ! And by the same token, many people who do not subscribe to some of the values espoused by members of the rock fraternity can nonetheless love songs that are well crafted and attractive. But I'll say it again, this song is just bland. It's like a tasteless dinner. Filling but totally dissatisfying. Fortunately, that can't be said of the other offerings on the record. I wouldn't say it's an outstanding album, but 18 years since I first bought it, I'm still listening to it. Mark Farner definitely had a social conscience, at one point he used to run an ecological newspaper. So tunes like BAN THE MAN don't surprize me. While I think it has a daft set of lyrics ( " we've got to ban the man / with the aerosol can " ) and I couldn't be bothered with it, I have to say that what he was talking about has come to be accepted 30 years later as scientifically sound. Besides which, it's a neat tune. There is a haunting kind of quality to LORRAINE which makes me wonder if she was a real person and if so, what happened to her. It's a bit sugarry but I like the song. There's some good melodies on the LP that turn up in unexpected places. SECOND CHANCE TO DANCE bops along in predictably danceable fashion. It's so infectious with a good refrain and the classic lines, " people have been known to dance until their pants get wet ! " and " get the lead out of your pants ! ". LADY LUCK doesn't come over as well as the Deep Purple song of the same name but it's nonetheless a good rocker with a neat melody and the odd twist to it. SOCIAL DISASTER and STREET FIGHT are a couple of slower paced pieces of social commentary, both are songs that take getting used to, though SOCIAL is the catchier of the two. It could easilly have fitted on the Funk's '71 - '72 output lyrically. It contains the idea that the fact that God is in the heart of every human doesn't mean that all is well and that we can do whatever we want. On the contrary, it's when we take that view that we invite social disaster and that it's working with rather than against him that produces lasting benefits. And being patriotic, he sees America as being just that, a nation that has left God behind, to the detriment of it's citizens, ironically all outward form with little substasnce. In England, there's long been a view in the the literary arts that Americans have no sense of irony or subtlety but I disagree; it's just a different sense of them. STREET FIGHT is one of those ironic songs as is DEAR MISS LUCY, or at least, I think they are. I hope they are !! If LUCY is straight down the line, I have to say it's very un - Farnerish for the times. In the Funk, Don Brewer tended to write the sex themed songs or was at least the main pusher of them. Farner never seemed that comfortable about such, so I was initially surprized with this one. But the review points to the ironic element in this song which I'd never previously seen. It makes sense, actually, in the same way I hardly think he's really playing the tough guy in STREET FIGHT. MISS LUCY is pretty funky as a song and really singable. However, that supreme accolade goes to YOU AND ME, BABY and EASY BREEZES. The former is lovely, it's so sing song friendly and I think the lyrics are really good in parts. Never one of Mark's strong suits, I've long liked his way of talking straight in song ( when he's not being ironic ! ). But he goes some way beyond that in YOU AND ME and it's refreshing to hear something a little off the wall in a proposal like he does here. Just about everything about EASY BREEZES is sumptuous; the melody is glorious [ especially in the climax at the end ], the lyrics evoke childhood countryside memories, the guitars by the Farner brothers are beautiful, the middle eight [ I call any mid deviation a middle eight ! ] is purposeful and the song as a whole sort of lopes along, so so laid back. I wonder if there really was an Uncle Jack's farm.......

Overall, I really quite like the album. I must admit I've never heard, before or since of the guys on the album, most of them were people he'd hung with on the Michigan music scene in the days before there was a Grand Funk, so they went back a long way. I think they all sound pretty good and, well, directionlessly 1976 - 77 on the record. The directionlessness is good though. To me that spells diversity and the sessions were attacked with a gusto and enthusiasm that shows. In later years however, Farner criticised the album as being too pretty and refined so I guess he can't blame the public for passing on it.

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