Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Grand Funk—
Live Album


Released 1970 on Capitol
The Seth Man, May 2000ce
Grand Funk made a string of million-selling albums in a production-line frenzy that made Flint, Michigan’s other industry -- automobiles -- pale by comparison. This was a band whose were loathed by critics on both sides of the Atlantic despite top-grossing record sales and multiple sold out live performances. But no one could ever accuse their music of being sophisticated, intelligent or spiced up with anything but a stack of amps and a sea of raised hands with pumping fists. Both GF and audience raised the roof off of Crosley Field during the June 5, 1970 Cincinnati Pop Festival where a massive charge to the stage at liftoff of “Inside Looking Out” left a sparse ring of cops engulfed in a sea of shirtless pumped up fans. They’re soon going crazy in unison to the anthem that addressed their lives so directly: The grind of their shitty jobs as doing time in jail transformed into a “Right-On-Rise-Above-by-Realising-That-We’re-All-In-This-Shit-Together.” Further into “Inside Looking Out” is where bassist Mel Schacher’s bass gets louder than anywhere else on the record. It’s a lead instrument and no mere backbone as bass zooms up and down the neck are executed with no finesse whatsoever. This album is all where only the barest essentials of rock are utilised: rudimentary pounding of skins over Marshall-stacked guitar and bass and wailing vocals. “Live Album” was recorded either at the 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival (which is heavily hinted at) or two weeks earlier on June 22 at Robards Sports Arena, Sarasota (according to the tour diary pages on the 24” x 36” collaged poster included within) but it’s a minor point as in all probability both shows featured the same set. Their opening number, “Are You Ready” is a rousing, bombastic, crowd-pleasing footstomper, followed by the outstanding sludge-fest, “Paranoid.” Here, Mel’s Fender bass plods and runs through bare chested Mark Farner’s screeching custom-made guitar riffing like Jack Bruce if he skipped all the high-brow classico-jazz paradiddles and just rocked out. And rock out they do: as indicated by the false and overdubbed cheering at choice moments of assault. And Farner’s wah-wah is so mishandled and horrible it’s great. Because for all their supreme lack of “talent” there was also a total lack of pretension as they proceed to thrash it all out in the coda. Even on the ballads like “Heartbreaker” or “Mean Mistreater” (where Farner forsakes guitar for electric piano) they wind up throwing the thing into high gear anyway. Side four is taken up completely by “Into The Sun,” featuring more of Farner’s static-y fuzz guitar and they pick up speed until it’s just one horrible noise, Don Brewer beating his kit behind the whole mess. But even Schacher’s basso profundo is immaterial, as their bank of speakers are turned waaay up...
Which is the only way to listen to this album.