Grand Funk: Good Singin’, Good Playin’

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ImageThanks largely to Frank Zappa’s production and the band’s modicum of maturity, this may be Grand Funk’s most sophisticated vinyl outing to date. Be that as it may, however, the album contains nary a memorable tune and little of what its self-congratulatory title promises. When all is said and done, in fact, it might best be melted down into an ashtray.

Ranging from loud to louder to loudest, the music is as plodding, simplistic, and unmelodic as any I’ve heard in recent months. While the guitar work is crisp and aggressive, only one riff approaches what might be termed subtle and intelligent; and a check of the credits shows that Zappa contributed the part. Varied only by an occasional primal scream from Mark Farner, the solo and group vocals prove equally undistinguished.

To enjoy these boom-boom tracks, which find Grand Funk repeating a few chords ad nauseam, you ought to first take a whole lot of reds; to simply get through them, you ought to at least drop a couple of aspirin.

“Crossfire” and the mercilessly long “Miss My Baby,” which together may comprise the album’s nadir, excellently demonstrate why the quartet’s listeners would do well to stay close to a medicine cabinet. To enjoy these boom-boom tracks, which find Grand Funk repeating a few chords ad nauseam, you ought to first take a whole lot of reds; to simply get through them, you ought to at least drop a couple of aspirin.

If you plan to get into the lyrics, a frontal lobotomy is additionally recommended. Typifying what you can expect, “Just Couldn’t Wait” contains only a few more words than its title and makes the Ramones seem downright literate. In light of what happens when the group occasionally becomes prolific in this department, however, the general dearth of lyrics may be a sort of plus.

Consider “Don’t Let ‘Em Take Your Gun,” a cliche-ridden banality in which author Farner advises that, if you “don’t want your country to be overrun, you’ve got to keep America number one . . . Don’t let ’em take your gun.” After congratulating the country on its bicentennial, he adds: “Won’t be nobody takin’ over our land / If everybody’s brother’s got a gun in his hand / I’m telling you, we’ve learned to fight for justice / We’re willing to die for freedom / Hand in hand, you’ve got to understand / We’re an American band.”

Joan Baez, it ain’t. In fact, if Richard Nixon ever makes a comeback (say, around 1984), this band might be a perfect choice for the inaugural ball.

Meanwhile, despite all of the above, I can’t call this package completely useless. Just yesterday, I used the inner sleeve to kill a mosquito.

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