Grand Funk gives ’70s rock a bad name on Thirty Years of Funk: 1969-1999

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 9, 1999

By Steve Newton

 

When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with collecting albums, and all my money went toward that goal. My friends had nice cars; I had nice records.

Nowadays, I get most of my music free from record labels, but it’s almost always on CD, and I miss that thrill of procuring a sought-after 12-incher that can be proudly filed among my treasured stacks of vinyl.

So lately I’ve been checking out the used-LP sections of places like Zulu Records, keeping an eye out for collectible items from the halcyon days of ’70s rock. A while back, I spotted a gold vinyl copy of Grand Funk’s 1973 We’re an American Band LP and, remembering how much I’d loved the title track back then, gave it a spin on the in-store turntable. “We’re an American Band” still hits the mark, but I couldn’t find anything else on the Todd Rundgren–produced album worth playing twice.

And that’s pretty much the story with the three-disc anthology Thirty Years of Funk. Trust me to take three decades to finally figure out that Grand Funk is a prime example of the kind of bombastic, long-winded music that gives ’70s rock a bad name. I’ve also got no time—nor did I back then—for the band’s chart-topping updates of soul standards such as “The Loco-Motion” and “Some Kind of Wonderful”.

The only thing that impressed me about this boxed set was discovering that in “We’re an American Band”, Don Brewer sings the line “Up all night, with Freddie King/I got to tell ya, poker’s his thing.” I always thought he was hollering something like, “Up all night, we’re fuckin’…”

It’s funny how a 15-year-old’s mind works.

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