Saturday, January 21, 2017

Grand Funk - 1981 - Grand Funk Lives

Grand Funk 
1981
Grand Funk Lives




01. Good Times
02. Queen Bee
03. Testify
04. Can't Be With You Tonight
05. No Reason Why
06. We Gotta Get Out Of This Place
07. Y.O.U.
08. Stuck In The Middle
09. Greed Of Man
10. Wait For Me

Mark Farner – guitar, piano, vocals
Lance Duncan Ong – keyboards, synthesizer
Dennis Bellinger – bass, vocals
Don Brewer – drums, vocals



Rising like a Phoenix, which was the title of one of their previous albums, perhaps Mark Farner is sending a subliminal message with opening track "Good Times" that his "Bad Time" is over? The song "Testify," track three, sums up this very good album from Mark Farner, Don Brewer, and bassist Dennis Bellinger replacing the MIA Mel Schacher. It's a hooky rock tune with Farner's religious overtones. All these tracks are strong, from "Can't Be With You Tonight" to the glorious ending of "Wait for Me." The no-nonsense production of manager Andrew Cavaliere -- shades of Terry Knight! --- and Bob Destocki, lets Farner and Brewer shine. This album is like a subdued version of the Grand Funk classic Survival. In fact, both Survival and Grand Funk Lives are underrated, not just among Grand Funk fans. Where the first Mark Farner solo album, produced by Dick Wagner, had more of a bluesy feel in 1977, and 1978's Flint by Brewer and company sounded like a stab in the dark, this collection rocks. "Queen Bee" has riffs taken from Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep, specifically the ending of the song; "Black Sabbath meets Heep's "Easy Livin'," with Farner's pop influences glossing it up. "We Gotta Get out of This Place" has more in common with a hard-rocking Young Rascals than the Animals or David Johansen. "Y.O.U." is almost there, halfway to a hit, missing the strength of producers Jimmy Ienner, Todd Rundgren, heck, even Frank Zappa might've lifted this track into the Top 40. The restrained production on the rest of the album is a plus except for "Y.O.U.," which needed just a bit more. "Stuck in the Middle" is fun Mark Farner, and is perhaps the best track on this excellent outing. Heavy keyboards, a great hook, and thick chorus -- a nice sequel to Funk's 1975 hit "Bad Time." "Greed of Man" goes back to the harder preaching of original GFR. All tunes except the cover of "We Gotta Get out of This Place" were written by Farner, who closes out the album with the introspective "Wait for Me." In a world mutated by Guns N' Roses, Nirvana, and Aerosmith gone pop, Grand Funk Railroad kept the flame of hard rock lit with this solid disc. It's too bad it didn't reach a larger audience.

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