Saturday, June 13, 2009

Music Review: Grand Funk Railroad - Grand Funk Railroad

So I guess I’m what you would call a “young” Grand Funk Railroad fan. I was only six in 1969, when their first and second albums came out.
While there is absolutely no question that On Time is a killer record, containing such classics as “Heartbreaker,” “Are You Ready,” and “Call Yourself A Man,” there is also no question at all what the greatest Grand Funk Railroad record of all time is for me.

Grand Funk Railroad is usually referred to as "The Red Album", but I have always considered it “The Green Album” for reasons that will become obvious.

Back in 1974, I was a young pup of 11 years, and getting way into music. Top 40 mainly, but at the time, Top 40 was really diverse. Hell, the first time I heard Parliament was on Casey Kasem, of all places. But I digress.

Talking up favorite songs and groups on the schoolyard was sort of what I did back then. I was certainly a nerd in training. One day a friend of mine showed up with two albums for me, minus the covers, of course. The records he gave me kind of changed my life.

His sister had moved out, and had left behind scratchy, worn copies of Neil Young’s Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere, and GFR’s classic second album. Grand Funk Railroad was on the original green Capitol label, hence my predilection to think of it as green, rather than red.

I didn’t really even know who Neil Young was at the time, but I sure knew about Grand Funk. I had the 45’s of “We’re An American Band,” “The Locomotion” and “Shinin’ On”, and loved the fact that “Destitute And Losin” was only available as a "B" side on my single.

The “pop” stuff of GFR that I was familiar with was no preparation at all for the assault of Grand Funk Railroad. This record spun my head. Do you remember the first time you heard “Paranoid"? Good Lord, it scared the crap out of me! And the first thing I did was start it over.

Later on I heard a Black Sabbath song called “Paranoid”, and just had to laugh. They had nothing on GFR! Those weird voices in the beginning, that thundering power chord crunch, and lyrics that were legitimately frightening, there was nothing like it.

“Well I’m sittin here lonely like a broken man, doing my job, best I can…” Thunk, thunk, thunk…Best one two punch ever. Following “Paranoid” was another GFR classic: “Inside Looking Out”. And it was even longer!

I never really did turn the record over, to tell you the truth. I was so sold on Grand Funk Railroad at that point, I can’t even explain it. Ten years later I was still talking them up to anyone who would listen, and a friend started calling me “Mr. Grand Funk” It certainly stuck, and I am a proud American Fan.

This would be an easy end to the conversation, but there are other classic songs on Grand Funk Railroad which deserve mention. Of the longer songs, “Winter And My Soul” is awesome. And how could you really live without hearing either “High Falootin’ Woman” or “Mr. Limousine Driver” again?

I will be working up reviews of every GFR record eventually, but as you can see, Grand Funk Railroad was destined to be first.

So I will take this moment to share the night I finally got to see the band live. No, it wasn’t at Shea Stadium. It was in 2000, at the Puyallup, WA Fair, and it was fantastic. The set was just stellar, no question. But there was an aspect to the evening the band themselves may be unaware of. There were a huge amount of Seattle area rock stars present that night.

I personally spoke to guys from Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Metal Church there. And who knows who else attended. Kurdt Vanderhoof of Metal Church summed it up the best for me: “How many times do you get to see a reunion show with ALL the original members, and they still sound as great as they did before.”

I am including a link on my blog to a petition to get Grand Funk Railroad inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame.
If those wimpy Sabbath guys could get in, why not Grand Funk?