Friday, January 23, 2009

Grand Funk Railroad

One of the first MEGA-successful Hard Rock Bands of the Rock Era was Flint, Michigan's Grand Funk Railroad. In 1969, 1970 and 1971 they were selling HUGE quantities of albums and receiving ALL kinds of airplay on the relatively new FM Radio Band ... yet today it is EXTREMELY rare to hear ANYTHING by them that pre-dates their 1973 #1 Hit We're An American Band. The entire early phase of their career has been virtually ERASED from the radio airwaves.

Now, in all fairness, until Todd Rundgren took over the production reigns for GFR's "We're An American Band" album, they were not what you'd consider Top 40 staples ... in fact, just three singles managed to crack The National Top 40 prior to their chart-topping hit. Closer To Home (#22, 1970) is something that you MIGHT hear on a really good Classic Rock FM Station ... but is rarely (if ever) heard on the oldies stations, where it TRULY deserves some recognition ... it's an excellent tune that your audience will respond to. An occasional spin of Footstompin' Music (#29, 1972) and Rock 'n' Roll Soul (#24, 1972) just might earn you a positive reaction, too. (Personally, I've always enjoyed their version of Dave Mason's Feelin' Alright, too ... as well as some of their earlier FM Hits like Heartbreaker, Inside Looking Out and Mean Mistreater.)

Once they redefined themselves as "An American Band", the hits came in quick succession: We're An American Band (#1, 1973); Walk Like A Man (#17, 1974); The Loco-Motion (#1, 1974); Shinin' On (#11, 1974); Some Kind Of Wonderful (#3, 1975) and Bad Time (#4, 1975) all raced up the charts and right into The Top 20 ... although it's rare that you hear Walk Like A Man, Shinin' On or Bad Time these days either. (We featured Bad Time as the second half of our recent True Oldies Channel / Forgotten Hits / Twin Spin Weekend ... and Scott Shannon told me that he got a very good, positive response to that one.)

Prior to forming Grand Funk Railroad (named after Michigan's Grand Trunk Railroad), Guitarist and frontman Mark Farner and Drummer Don Brewer had both been members of Terry Knight and the Pack, who charted back in 1967 with their version of I, Who Have Nothing. (In fact, Terry Knight went on to manage and produce Grand Funk Railroad in the early years! We featured the Terry Knight and the Pack hit during one of our Local Hits / Show Me Your Hits series a few years back.) Bassist Mel Schacher was a former member of ? and the Mysterians,, who topped the charts with the classic 96 Tears back in 1966.

Their first eleven albums all went multi-gold and / or platinum and eight of those landed in The Top Ten on Billboard's Album Charts. Nearly every early '70's aspiring garage band member had copies of classic GFR albums like On Time, Grand Funk, Closer To Home, Survival, E Pluribus Funk, Mark, Don and Mel, Phoenix, We're An American Band, Shinin' On, All The Girls In The World Beware!!! and their Live Album in their personal record collections. (Of course those SAME hard-rockin' guitarists would have called you "insane" had you told them that their favorite rock band would eventually be topping the charts with a remake of a Little Eva tune!!!)

Today we're featuring three of these earlier, long-forgotten tracks, in the hopes that a deejay or two on the list will be inspired to give them a spin, if only to gauge their listeners' reaction.

Probably MOST radio-friendly (and recognizable) would be Footstompin' Music ... this one'll get your head bobbin'!!! We've also got Rock And Roll Soul for you today ... as well as Grand Funk Railroad's version of Feelin' Alright. (If nothing else, ALL of these ought to jar a memory or two!!!)


Footstompin' Music

Rock And Roll Soul

Feelin' Alright

Aww, what the heck!!! The VERY best of their Forgotten Hits has GOT to be Closer To Home ... so we'll give you THAT one, too!!!

Closer To Home