Mark, Don & Mel: 1969 – 71 – Grand Funk Railroad

The MARK’S VINTAGE VINYL page features something from Mark’s collection of recordings from over the years. Most of it is on vinyl – hence the name – though there will be a few entries from his CDs (remember those?).

Mark, Don & Mel: 1969 – 71 by Grand Funk Railroad

  • Compilation album released in 1972. It is a double album, with side three consisting of live versions of three songs previously released as studio versions.
  • My brother started listening to Grand Funk, and of course, I listened to. I picked up a used copy of this record, probably in 1975 or so. The early work by the Flint Michigan trio was a tour de force of acid rock, blues rock and psychedelic rock. “Mark” was Mark Farner (guitar, keyboards, vocals and primary songwriter), “Don” was Don Brewer (drums, vocals) and “Mel” was Mel Schacher (bass guitar).
  • GFR was a band that the critics hated, and their work frequently was panned. The band reveled in the notoriety. The gatefold of the double album and the sleeves that hold the vinyl contain reprints of articles from various magazines and newspapers, many of which are highly negative. A sample quote from one is “Grand Funk Railroad, almost certainly the vilest phenomenon in rock’s recent history, struck again Wednesday….” Another has the title “Grand Funk is lousy” and the article starts “Grand Funk has continued to be such an unprecedented musical phenomena that despite the utter worthlessness of its music, a few words need to be said to rebut the countless hype that comes from the manager’s office and the record company…”
  • OK – the critics hated them. But teenage boys loved them. And now, 50 years later, I still do. My faves from the album? Footstompin’ Music, Mean Mistreater and of course, Closer To Home (I’m Your Captain). These songs were all before GFR had their biggest hits We’re An American Band, The Loco-Motion and Some Kind of Wonderful, which were hits in 1973 and 1974 (the first two topped the Hot 100).
  • Don and Mel continue to tour today as Grand Funk Railroad with three other rockers in the band. Mark also tours, playing GFR songs as part of Mark Farner’s American Band (the name leverages one of the band’s biggest hits, We’re An American Band). Learn more about the band by reading my December 27, 2017 post on the band. Here’s the band performing Closer To Home at Shea Stadium in 1971. Love this clip – reminds me of a simpler time of rock music!


1 thought on “Mark, Don & Mel: 1969 – 71 – Grand Funk Railroad”

  1. Your brother was a really good influence on you. Presence/Relayer/Aftermath opened every gig we had with “We’re an American Band”. Love the older stuff. They changed later to be more mainstream and liked that stuff too, although I think their older stuff is best.

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