Artist: Grand Funk
Genre: Hard Rock
Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Member: No
Album: We're An American Band
Producer: Todd Rundgren
Release Date: July 15, 1973
Running Time: 39:48
RIAA Certification: Platinum
Peak Billboard Chart Position: #2
Singles: We're An American Band (#1)/Walk Like A Man (#19)
Disclaimer: All info that does not reside in my brain is gathered from wikipedia.com (mostly because Jon can't stand it).
This week we turn to the heavy-handed rock of Grand Funk Railroad. Actually, they dropped the Railroad part, and became simply Grand Funk. Their 1973 release, We're An American Band, is up for your consideration. First off, it is a Platinum awarded number two album. As you can see above, two top twenty singles were released, including the number one We're An American Band (one of two career number one hits for the band, the other being The Loco-Motion).
The album was the first of two produced by Todd Rundgren. He helped give the band a more professional, clean sound. Don Brewer, the drummer, also took on a wider role for this album. In addition to increased song writing credits, he sang lead vocals on the two hits. As a side note, the original vinyl and the original 45 single for We're An American Band were released on translucent yellow vinyl (supposedly symbolic of a gold record).
How 'bout a review:
On first examination the only word that crosses your mind is gold. Gold on the outside, gold on the inside -- even the plastic record is bright gold. Pompous for any other band, but for Grank Funk just another move forward, from silver to gold. And naturally the album had sold a million in advance orders before it ever left the plant. Grand Funk has dropped "Railroad," and acquired that New York wizard and true star Todd Rundgren to referee the mixing board. They have also taken their "on-the-road" keyboard player, Craig Frost (a truly dishy gentleman who should have been brought to the frontlines sooner), and put him in the photos and given him a more prominent place in the music. The result is what is easily the best album America's only Truly American band (no trace of England anywhere in this band's style) has ever recorded.
Just what takes this album and puts it miles in front of all the other Grank Funk albums is beyond me. The set is marvelously tight and controlled. Instead of being a band of unbridled energy they are now better thought out and better channelled. The once wild stallions have now been studio broken. Perhaps this is why "We're An American Band" has been the band's only successful single to date. Sure, "Rock and Roll Soul" crept up the charts, but it never made it to New York's toughest AM station WABC.
Another remarkable thing is that Mark Farner's always interesting voice has now moved into the "impressive" category. The man can really sing well. This is most evident on the Farner original "Creepin'" where the man's voice comfortably soars to heights it's never dared approach before.
Whatever went down before in the infamous recording careers of Grand Funk, it would appear they have found themselves at last. From the mild-paced rocker, "Ain't Got Nobody," through the comparatively complex "Loneliest Rider," Grand Funk are heading straight down the track.
- Janis Schacht, Circus, 1/74.
So what do you think of this album? It is readily available on Amazon in a remastered format along with four bonus tracks for a cool $7.99. But knowing Jon, he will be able to tell you where you can find it cheaper, especially if you have a coupon. Either way, you should buy it so you can honestly say you own it.
1. We're An American Band
2. Stop Lookin' Back
4. Black Licorice
5. The Railroad
6. Ain't Got Nobody
7. Walk Like A Man
8. Loneliest Rider
This was a decent listen until "Black Licorice". What an absolutely horrible song. If there was a ranking of the worst songs ever, this should be #1. It is so horrible, that's it's awesome. Judging every other song on the horrible awesomeness of that one song makes the rest of the album pale in comparison. You listen to "Black Licorice" and then the next song starts and you feel yourself compelled to go back to BL just to listen to it again. As you listen to the rest of the album, that one song keeps popping into your head.
I could try to wipe the memory of this album from my mind and then go back and listen again, except this time I would need to skip track #4. Of course my mind would be wiped and I wouldn't remember to not listen to that one song and then the vicious cycle starts all over again.
Overall, this was a fine listen. I think. I'm debating whether or not to pick this up, just for "Black Licorice". If I do, I don't think I will ever have to buy another album again.
I don't know if that was a dig at me, but I'll stop mentioning or posting deals on music.
It was a dig...but a friendly one. A "you can say that cause you're my bro" dig. A dig that makes you even more determined to find better deals to post. You are the deal finder for CRB. As Scott said, we like to see deals.
If a band called their album "vier da stank band", I'd have to check that out...
Seriously, have you never heard Grand Funk Railroad?
I have heard of them, and I've also heard them, but it's a long time ago, and I didn't really like, what I heard. "vier da stank band" sounds like dutch for "we're a stinking band". I would definitely also checek that one out!!!
Creepin' is the best tune on the album IMO. The production is definitely ahead of its time. Rundgren did a killer job on this one!
Black Licorice, worst song ever? Nah! Maybe because this album was played a lot during my youth that its familiarity is appealing to me in my old age, ahem, middle age...
One thing that's great about this album, beside the production, is the keyboard work - of which Black Licorice is cool showcase for. The remastered bonus track edition is well worth it, the 3 bonus tracks are really quite good, got that funky beat to them and the 2002 Remix of Were An American Band is worth from a sonic perspective. Very nice pick this week.
Its hard to believe that this band is not in the RRHOF!! Shameful!
Recommendation for you... If you dig this album, check out Shinin' On and Born To Die, same period for the band and the songs are really strong all the way through!
The used CD store had this and Shinin' On, so I picked them both up.
1. Well, it's a good sound, and I know this one. It sounds a bit like Bachman Turner Overdrive. The title and the chorus are not my cup of tea.
2. This is actually better, especially the drums at the end. The production of this album by Rundgren is very good.
3. Hmmm... don't care much for the start. This could be boring......and it is!!! But the guitar-solo is good. The song is much too long.
4. This one also bores me. The keyboards sounds likes Jon Lord. They actually sounds a bit like Deep Purple at times.
5. Yeah, well, it's still a bit boring, if you ask me, and I think, you do. It's okay, and listenable, and this track kind of get's a little proggy around the guitar-solo. I don't know, what it is, but this style is not really me. Even though, you can't compare them that much, I never really was a Purple-fan either. It's "stoner-rock", meaning the songs are a bit slow for my taste. But it's not bad-bad. Jon Lord-keyboards again.
6. The singing reminds me a bit of The doobie Brothers or stuff like that. Also the music, even though it's more heavy. It IS a very american style, which developed into Boston, Journey and those kind of bands. I don't hate that style, but it's not at the top of my list. This one also got me to think of Neil young, maybe the high singing as well. They do play some fine guitar, but again a song, that goes inthrough one ear and out the other.
7. Here we go again: A bit of a slow rythm, more of the same singing. The songs starts to sound exactly the same to me, and the guitars are still the best about the songs. A bit of Zeppelin on this one.
8. Good start! Now the keayboards sounds like John Paul jones would play them. But also that Lord-sound later on.
I don't know. Maybe some other day, i would had liked this better. I won't say, that I never will check out GFR, but I don't think it will be the next couple of years. Something about the style of music and the singing, that doesn't really work for me.
But again, a very interesting AOTW.
You think this week was interesting, just wait until next week. We will step off of CRB's well-beaten path again.
By the way, if it's going in one ear and out the other, does that mean there's nothing inside to stop it?
And finally, I knew you'd have trouble with it because of the word "American".
That might be, but please remember, I have absolutely nothing against americans.
No matter what country, I might have something agains exaggerated patriotism.
I would never sing a song about being a danish man. Just ask my daughter: Both her and I would much rather be americans (or english) than boring danes. Rødgrød med fløde my ass