Every Home Should Have One: Grand Funk Railroad's Live Album

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“I heard this album for the first time back in 1971 when my neighbour and I borrowed it from his older brother’s collection. As a 12-year-old schoolboy from Hamburg I was already listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival and Uriah Heep. Further down the line, Slade’s Alive album [1972] was another very important album for me. But Grand Funk Railroad’s incredible mixture of blues, soul and rock just blew me away. It was a very important album in the development of heavy metal.

“By the time I first heard them, Grand Funk had already released On Time [1969], Grand Funk [aka the Red Album, also 1969], Closer To Home [1970] and Survival [1971], so I went out and bought everything, including my own copy of Live Album. Because it was the 70s, bands made two albums a year in those days. Masterplan take two years to make a record, which is way too long.

“Grand Funk had the perfect sound for a power trio As Homer Simpson would famously describe it: ‘[Guitarist/vocalist] Mark Farner’s wild, shirtless lyrics, the bong-rattling bass of Mel Schacher and the competent drum woirk of Don Brewer’.

“But seriously, Mark Farner inspired me to become a musician; I started singing and playing guitar after becoming hooked on that album. Their version of The Animals’ Inside Looking Out is great, and their own songs, like Heartbreaker, Paranoid and In Need are still among my all-time favourites.

“Although the critics didn’t like them, and the radio also turned its back, Grand Funk still became enormous in America, selling millions of records. Probably because of that they didn’t play in Europe too often, though I got to see them in Hamburg in 1974. By that time they had added extra musicians. And because it was in a nice, seated venue it felt a bit too stiff. But I was glad that I saw them anyway.

“I always liked Grand Funk best as a three-piece. The bass filled out the spaces a little more than with most trios, and Farner used to play some Hammond organ. They also had quite a distorted sound, which I really liked.

“I never tire of listening to Live Album. The best thing about them was the sheer excitement of their live performance. With the studio work, some of that got lost. On Live Album the singing was wilder, the drumming was more powerful, there was a lot more magic. They did release another concert set, Caught In The Act [1975], but it was done as a four-piece. If you haven’t listened to Grand Funk before, this is the place to start. Especially the remastered version, which has wonderful sound quality.”

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