Review: Grand Funk Railroad(s)?

I was just listening to a recording this morning that I haven’t spun in a long while, that being Grand Funk Railroad’s “Live” album. Wow, what a trip down memory lane.

I damned near wore my record needle down to the nub listening to this double album back in the early 70’s, when they were undoubtedly the biggest Rock band on the planet. Don’t think so?

  • Most people in-the-know agree that they were one of the most generally dismissed acts by critics and radio programmers alike. Well, that didn’t seem to bother them one iota, as they went on to record 3 gold and 10 platinum records with sales exceeding 25 million copies sold worldwide.
  • In 1971, they sold out Shea Stadium in 72 hours, faster than the Beatles did. They received $300,000 for that one show, some 48 years ago. Taking inflation up to the present into consideration, that’s nearly $2,000,000!

They were certainly Gods to me, and also the very first concert I ever went to see at the tender age of 16, in Madison Square Garden.

The people adored them, and that’s what really counts, critics be damned.

Let’s look at one of their most famous songs and my personal favorite, “Inside Looking Out”. It’s a cover of a song originally recorded by The Animals, but a far heavier version.

First, here’s the real deal with all three original members, shot back in 1969 shortly after the band was first formed. This was truly a fully-fucking-fledged three piece Rock power trio, just absolutely wailing away. Thinking about it, I can’t come up with another that could stand up to it even today, 50 years later. They just don’t make ’em like this anymore kids…

Fast forward to today…

One thing that really sticks in my craw is how original drummer Don Brewer completely fucked over guitarist/lead vocalist/songwriter Mark Farner, who any GFR fan will tell you was the true heart of this band.

That said, the rest of this post is devoted to that subject.

Here’s two audience-shot live videos of “Inside Looking Out”, both recorded this year (for the posterity of any future readers, 2019).

First, what I call money hungry Brewer’s “GFR tribute band”. The singer is the most painful thing to listen to, who is pitiful compared to Farner:

I wouldn’t go to watch this shit if they were playing in my own backyard.

Next is the Mark Farner “solo” version. This rendition blows Brewer’s band away to smithereens. Sure sounds like the audience agrees, as they sing it word-for-word before the song even begins, and don’t stop there. Most amazingly, his vocals sound every bit as good as they did in 1969:

Brewer and original bassist Mel Schacher are really nothing special or unique at all as musicians. Farner could recruit anyone in the music world for back-up. Using both his God-given talent and musical direction, it still truly sounds like the original GFR.

Keep in mind that it was Farner who wrote almost all of their original material, and they were also in the habit of performing covers of other great Classic Rock and Blues tunes. It’s claimed that Brewer wrote some as well, but I don’t buy into a guy that’s strictly a drummer having the ability to write complete songs all by his lonesome. What did he do, hum them to Farner?

The bottom line here is: No Mark Farner, no fucking Grand Funk Railroad.

Here’s a video of Farner talking about the final break-up of GFR. Wait until you hear this shit, Brewer should be hung up by his balls:

To cap things off, the ultimate injustice: Despite all of their amazing achievements, Grand Funk Railroad aren’t even in the R&RHoF. Big surprise there, Jann Wenner should be strung up right next to Brewer, although I have a slightly different (although nearby) body part for that in mind.

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