November 24, 2008


Funny. On looking at my own last post, I see that I said that I was going to be back with you on Dec 1. Well...that may be week. But I was referring to today and we are again, but just a bit before Thanksgiving. We will post again on Wednesday but will be absent on Friday. And THEN, we'll be back on Monday, December 1.

We promised the results of the Grand Funk Railroad Poll. And so here we go...

Grand Funk didn't receive the burning stream of Poll votes that I had hoped but they weren't ignored either. I received exeactly 41 email votes, which left us with a lot of close calls. There was a Number One vote-getter however. Grand Funk Railroad has a large catalogue of titles and many of them went unmentioned in this poll. There were few in the Pop/Rock 'singles-era' of the band even though E Pluribus Funk was a small beginning of that era. And E Pluribus Funk received a strong (for this poll) number of votes. On to the Poll:

  1. Closer to Home (7) - This is the third album of a band that was getting better and better as it went along. Although critically, the band had no friends, they were revered by the fans (me included). Closer to Home produced quite possibly the one song that is closely tied to the band, "I'm Your Captain/Closer to Home." Other well-known songs that came from this magnificent album include "Sin's a Good Man's Brother," and "Mean Mistreater." This studio album was the band's strongest selling studio (Live Album sold strongly as well). Closer to Home is great Grand Funk Railroad and is a worthy selection for the top polled album.
  2. E Pluribus Funk (6) - This is the band's fifth album (they produced them fast and furious). It yielded the band's first high-charting single with "Footstompin' Music" ( I truly loved this song and eagerly waited for it to play on WLS-AM when I was young. After getting this excellent album, which was a slipped into a shiny silver round jacket that looked like a coin. But it didn't stop with that song. Every track on this album is a gem. And, you have to see that GFR's writing had much on their mind, including issues that hold true today with "Save the Land," and "People, Let's Stop the War." Even the lengthy "Loneliness" was classic. Between this and Survival, I had a hard time choosing.
  3. Survival (5) - This album is tied with the next album in votes. It is a classic album all by itself with the excellent cover of The Stones' "Gimme Shelter" (blasphemy alert here - I liked it better than the Stones' original and I LOVE that Stones track). And then they recorded a decent cover of Dave Mason's "Feelin' Alright." But the album also provided a stunning Brewer/Farner tune with the unique "I Can Feel Him in the Morning," and the timeless "Comfort Me." Survival was my choice for best GFR album.
  4. We're an American Band (5) - This album pushed GFR deeper into the singles market with the one song that drummers everywhere revere, the opening drum track on the title cut. It also produced another single with "Walk Like a Man." It delivered some classic AOR (Album Oriented Rock) tracks as well. I loved "Creepin'" with its thematic message and "Loneliest Rider." Yeah, the rest were pretty good as well.
  5. Grand Funk (AKA Red Album) (5) - The second album from GFR delivered the great Grand Funk version of The Animals' "Inside Looking Out." Many of us still return to this song many, many times because it might be the definitive version of the tune (apologies to Animals fans). And it thrilled with "Paranoid" and any other tunes which may have been your favourite. No denying that this album rocks solid!
  6. Live Album (4) - Quite simply, I loved this album. I remember hanging at Billy James' house during our rushed lunches at SHS. We would make sandwiches and listen to a side of this high-selling, multi-platinum album. It had some tons of great tracks over four sides that included a mind-rockin' "T.N.U.C." (Billy loved this one!), and some fantastic Live energy over the album's eleven tracks selections.
  7. Caught in the Act (4) - This Live album is a fan favourite. The voters for this album let me know quite emphatically that this document was the definitive Live GFR album. It covers the band in a broader scope than Live Album does, including their more popular Pop/Rock singles and likely provides a deeper experience for many GFR fans. While I still like Live Album better because it speaks for me, this album also speaks for a generation of GFR fans.
  8. All of the Girls in the World Beware!!! (2) - This album showed the band as overly muscled men but it contained a strong set of songs that included "Some Kind of Wonderful," and the Farner trauma-tune of "Bad Time" (he was going through a heart-rending divorce at the time). The fans who voted, voted strongly for this one.
  9. Phoenix (1) - This adventurous album was the band's sixth following E Pluribus Funk. It produced a small single with "Rock and Roll Soul." as well as some very interesting and tasty tunes like "Flight of the Phoenix," and others. I was infatuated with GFR long before this album came out and this one didn't shake me off - different but I loved it regardless.
  10. Shinin' On (1) This album provided the track that Todd Rundgren heard Farner toy with in the studio and suggested they record it for the LP. The band included the cover of "The Loco-Motion" and soon, every cheer-leading and Pom-Pom squad were doing routines using this song as a backdrop to their creations. Little Eva had some competition with love for this version of the song that put her on the Top40 map. Included a pair of 3D glasses to view the unique 3D cover. the album's title track had some time of the Top40 charts as well.
  11. On Time (1) Finally - and thankfully - this album receives a vote as an essential Grand Funk Railroad document, And it should. there are some classic Grand Funk songs here like "T.N.U.C.," "Into the Sun," "Heartbreaker," "Time Machine," and "Are You Ready?" There are more songs on this album but we can't praise it too much, right?!

There are some neglected albums in the Grand Funk collection that includes the MCA Zappa-produced Good Singin' Good Playin' (this was a delightful album and welcomed as it attempted to retro-back to another time after their string of Top40 songs. I loved "Crossover," "Just Couldn't Wait," and a few other solid tracks that should get more notice than they do. Born to Die (possibly a prophetic cover as a metaphor to the band's dimishining good fortunes) did not rank and neither did Schacher-less Grand Funk Lives from 1981, and What's Funk? from 1983. Also not recognized were their Live albums, Bosnia, and Live: The 1971 Tour. From a collection standpoint, the notably iconic Mark, Don & Mel (1969-1971), which sold remarkably well on its release in 1972. It even felt better than a 'best of' compilation. For me, it was an essential album and was played constantly. I currently have a collectible 'advance' LP version of this that came with a jeans patch. Yeah, GFR still rank high on my radar of favoured bands. And I'm still on the lookout for an original LP version of E Pluribus Funk.

I hope you enjoyed the results of this Poll and all of our other Polls. We'll pick another band for Polling in a few weeks. If you have a suggestion, let me know who might be a cool choice!

We have a stream of four songs from the Amy Grant Christmas Collection album that we have reviewed. The songs are complete streams so have fun and enjoy them.

Jingle Bells - Windows Media
Jingle Bells - Quicktime

I Need a Silent Night - Windows Media
I Need a Silent Night - Quicktime

Baby It's Christmas - Windows Media
Baby It's Christmas - Quicktime

Count Your Blessings - Windows Media
Count Your Blessings - Quicktime

We have a few reviews for you today that include one by newcomer, Mark Squirek, who talks about the latest Jefferson Starship album called Jefferson's Tree of Liberty. I put a few on the pages for Firefall and their new single, "Walk More Softly," and the collection for Danielson called Trying Hartz: First Fruits - '94-'04. The Firefall review is an infrequent Front Page Review that I should do more of (and I might).

We'll be back on Wednesday for the final post of this week before the US Thanksgiving Holiday break. After that, we'll be back on Monday.

For the long promised Albums You MUST Hear Before You Die! list (#14), I will be posting a letter each post until exhausted (there were only 17 21 25 27 29 30 31 32 33 emails).  Some were only a few titles, some only one.  But there were more than a few that were massive and a few extended, well-detailed lists.  I’ll post them as I received them.  Today, I have a list of 10 mixed obscurities. Thanks to Bill for his list:

10. Hipbone 'The Brothers Love and Movie'
9. Buena Vista Social Club 's/t'
8. Pugwash 'Earworm'
7. Candy Butchers 's/t'
6. Rhett Miller 'The Instigator'
5. The Nines 'Properties of Sound'
4. Honeydogs '10,000 Years'
3. Stackridge 'The Man in the Bowler Hat'
2. Jellyfish 'Spilt Milk'
1. Cotton Mather 'Kontiki'


We're going to keep the Best Album of ALL Time up for a long while as we continually update it. But I'll say this: The Beatles took the lead with not only The White Album but also the fact that they have been selected with two albums. Like The Albums You MUST Hear Before You Die! run, which does not show signs of stopping (I'm still getting emails, which I have no problem with and encourage - Send Them In), I'm hoping that this new thing stays strong. Send in your selection (one only, please) for the album that is the ruler of all.

If you have missed the last As The Disc Spins (updated), check it out here.

To access the previous site and catch up, click here.






RCA Records have a collection album coming out, this one for Air Supply called From the Heart.  This nice-price disc is planed for the Valentine Day crowd and is set for release on January 13.

On a greater scale for the same upcoming Valentine Day is a compilation of ballads by Mariah Carey.  This album is expected by Columbia Records and is called Ballads.  It is set for January 13.

Columbia and Legacy will release a collection of romance-themed songs from the catalogue of Billie Holiday calling the set Billie Holiday – Love Songs.  Parts of this release – title, scope, etc – may change before its scheduled release date of January 13.

Add Peter Tosh to the growing list of Playlist series titles.  This one is planned by Columbia for January 13.

Curb Records reaches into February for the release of Sing Chapter One from Wynonna.  This is scheduled for release on February 3.

Time/Life will release a multi-disc set of Various Artists,Blues-oriented music called Let Freedom Sing! The Music of the Civil Rights.  It is planned for January 27.

Telarc Records have a few releases on their slate that include a DVD video as well as several SACD titles (Telarc still actively releases SACD titles).  On the DVD front, they have one coming from Ladysmith Black Mambazo called Live!.  On the SACD side, Boston Baroque will release Four Seasons; and there are two Various Artists collections, one called Jazz and World Music Sampler, and the other called Classical SamplerFour Seasons is scheduled for January 13 and the two Various Artists comps will be released on January 27.  These titles are also planned for standard CD issue releasing the same date as their SACD sisters. 

There are additional CD Telarc titles arriving as well that include Russian Masterpieces for Cello and Orchestra by Zuill Bailey (01/27); Free Your Mind by Walter Beasley (01/27); Radio Show by Tony DeSare (01/20); and More Tales Remixed by Incognito (01/27).

Varese Sarabande will release a Keith Emerson (ELP) title called The Emerson Band with Marc Bonilla.  It is scheduled to be released on January 20.

Interscope Records will release the soundtrack to the increasingly popular Danny Boyle film, Slumdog Millionaire (I saw this on Friday and let me tell you, EXCELLENT!).  This is planned to rush-release on December 23.  When the film is hot, get the music out, right? And this AR Rahman score works wonderfully.

Rounder has a bluegrass title coming from Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X-Press called Bluegrass and Beyond.  This album is pencilled in for January 20.

Fontana International will reissue most of the back catalogue of Children of Bodom in LP format on January 13.  The titles expected are Something Wild (1997), Hatebreeder (1999), Blooddrunk (2008), Follow the Reaper (2000), Are You Dead Yet? (2005), and Tokyo Warhearts (1999).  If you were waiting for these, here's your chance.



Review - Jefferson Starship - Jefferson's Tree of Liberty - CD

Jefferson Airplane. Jefferson Starship. No matter as they both have their place in the lore of Rock music. Their newest album with many of the old troupe in place is something pretty good. Mark Squirek provides his thoughts on Jefferson's Tree of Liberty.





Review - Danielson - Trying Hartz: First Fruits '94-'04 - CD

Danielson is an artist in the CMG business. However, his brand is something a little different than what you would expect. Trying Hartz is a collection of songs as recorded between the periods of 1994 and 2004.




Front Page Review (FPR) - Firefall - Walk More Softly - CD Single

Firefall enjoyed tremendous success in the late ‘70s.  Songs from their several successful Atlantic albums are still memorable and in play today, some 30+ years after their introduction.  The current incarnation of Firefall, headed by original member Jock Bartley, has recorded a new song, “Walk More Softly.”  The song brings back pleasant memories of the band’s heyday even if this time, it’s about love of a different kind.  “Walk More Softly” is a song that asks for better care of the earth (and each other, while we’e at it).  It has since been picked up as the theme for the Go Green Initiative () , a non-profit group that teaches environmental education around the world.  As of this writing, you should be able to download the song (for a fee) at the GoGreen site. **** (4 Stars)











Copyright 2002-2009 Matthew Rowe.
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Disclaimer: various news pieces may state a specific media publication or program as a source. All other news is considered 'rumour' only. That goes double for release dates.

212 Frech

"Even though most of the people I knew in my youth are gone, I still reach out to them..." Norman Maclean - Paraphrase

"...we should enjoy every sandwich." -- Warren Zevon
"Buy the ticket, take the ride." -- Hunter S Thompson
" best wake up 'fore tomorrow comes creepin' in...: -- Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad)
"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be." -- Kurt Vonnegut
"Because they wouldn't let me go for three..." -- Woody Hayes (OSU)
"Show me peaceful days before my youth has gone" -- Neil Diamond (Serenade)