11/20/2002 7:00p PT
Matt Rowe - Reviewer
GrandFunk, GrandFunk, GrandFunk,
Thus starts out one of the quintessential live recordings of all time. The power trio of Mark Farner, Mel Schacher, and Don Brewer entered the 70s with all the thunder of a great storm when they released "Live Album". And that storm still resonates.
As a high schooler, "Live Album" was one of the discs that was played over and over because of its intensity and the great songs of GFR. So, what has Capitol wrought by remastering GFR's catalogue? I'll tell you. In an age where much of the great music of the 60s/70s/80s are being licensed out to retro labels, it speaks volumes that Capitol decided to stick with their own and re-release Grand Funk's hard rock years as remasters.
The remaster of "Live Album" is a grand art. While these discs truly deserve stereo SACD/DVD-A treatments, the remaster opens up the sound. It realizes the textures of the show by emphasizing the instruments. Schacher's bass is clearer and produces the growl that it was meant to. The drums' pounds are good but a little distant. Fairly, this is a concert setting. But to hear Farner's vocals as cleanly as we do here along with his guitar leads is a plus. Listen to the extraordinary "Inside Looking Out" and the change is unreal.
GFR played music for their fans. That love dedication is revealed on this album of material recorded during mid June,1970 at several Florida arenas. With an energy level of a nuclear reactor, the disc captures the heat of the times and documents it for all time. Secondly, Grand Funk was the essence of Rock. Listen to any of the tracks and you realize that Farner and the boys understood what great music was and better, how to produce it. Mixed with socially conscious lyrics, GFR became the voice of an age.
From the drum solo sweat machine of "T.N.U.C" where Brewer toils forever with a fevered intensity and produces the drum solo of all time that has never been beatened. With the rigid bass of Mel Schacher and the utilitarian Guitars/Keys/Vocals of Mark Farner, Grand Funk also produces the timeless "Heartbreaker", "Mean Mistreater", "Inside Looking Out", and other GFR classics that have defined the era's concept of great rock music and what it was all about.
Grand Funk have had their share of troubles and came out of them stronger. They went on to produce fantastic studio discs that cemented the status of the band forever in the annals of rockdom. Many of those discs are in the "Grand Funk Remasters" series.
The disc has a different song sequence than what you may be used to. This is because of the intent to adhere to the original progression of the shows. This does not hurt the reproduction but is an added bonus for those who have seen these shows. Suits me.
PRODUCTION & PACKAGING
Excellent production. Great remastering. Incredible album. What more need be said? With clearer, cleaner music and vocals, the staging of the disc is opened up wider. There are new sounds here that make a greater impact for being brought out.
The disc provides a beefed up booklet with 12 pages of colour photos, essay notes by Steve Roeser, credits and song listing. All in all, a great booklet with more than enough details to satisfy any fan. The jewel case seat goes a step further by inserting a picture of an old Capitol single of "Mean Mistreater" off of this album in its original paper slip holder. A beautiful package.
THE FINAL SAY
For fans of Grand Funk Railroad, they will not be disappointed. If you have vacillated on whether or not to pick this up, hesitate no further. It's a great recording. But these GFR gems demand a higher resolution release. Hopefully someday, we'll get those.
Dedicated to Bill James. A great friend of mine who also drummed for me. We listened to this album on many occasions. Listening to it now reminds me of those great times. Thanks Bill.
Copyright © 2002 Matthew Rowe. All rights reserved.
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Grand Funk Railroad
Released: September 28, 2002
Grand Funk Railroad: