Grand Funk Rail­road

Trunk Of Funk Vol 1/Trunk Of Funk Vol 2


Bulging Trunks – no budgie-smug­glers here.

In July 1971, US mon­ster­group Grand Funk Rail­road played a mas­sive free con­cert in Lon­don’s Hyde Park, sup­ported by Hum­ble Pie and Head Hands & Feet. Thou­sands of early‑gen­er­a­tion head­bangers wit­nessed a truly awe‑in­spir­ing set by the de­fin­i­tive Amer­i­can blue‑col­lar rock band. How­ever this mon­u­men­tal event has been largely erased from rock his­tory be­cause: a) GFR weren’t The Who or the Rolling Stones, and b) crit­ics ab­horred them as much as fans adored them.

At least these Trunk Of Funk col­lec­tions – ac­tu­ally, given the size of them, let’s call them ship­ping con­tain­ers – give the band a lit­tle of the re­spect they de­serve. Be­cause let’s face it, this lot played arena rock be­fore there were even are­nas – just fields of corn and dusty park­ing lots.

Vol 1 spans the years 1969‑1971 and in­cludes six discs, be­gin­ning with de­but al­bum On Time and end­ing with E Pluribus Funk. Vol 2 takes in 1972‑1976 with another half‑dozen CDs, from Phoenix to Born To Die.

There are nat­u­rally mis­steps, given this phe­nom­e­nal out­put, but when the Funk are on song, there’s no stop­ping them. For ev­i­dence, look no fur­ther than the brace of live al­bums in­cluded here: the aptly ti­tled Live Al­bum (1970) and Caught In The Act (1975). Tracks such as Mean Mistreater, T.N.U.C., In­side Look­ing Out and, of course, sig­na­ture song We’re An Amer­i­can Band were, and re­main, the stuff of leg­end – no mat­ter what the holier‑than‑thou rock jour­nals of old might have told you.

As for the mis­steps? Well, look no fur­ther than 1974’s All The Girls In The World Be­ware!!!, the band de­picted as mus­cle‑bound Sch­warzeneg­ger types on the cover – Manowar eat your heart out. The al­bum reaches its nadir with the ap­pro­pri­ately horn‑heavy Look At Granny Run Run – ad­mit­tedly not a GFR orig­i­nal – which tells the tale of an old lady be­ing pur­sued by her aged hus­band, who has just been pre­scribed Vi­a­gra

(or the 1970s equiv­a­lent).

To coun­ter­bal­ance the hi­lar­ity, the al­bum closes with a mag­nif­i­cent ver­sion of Some Kind Of Won­der­ful, with an ever‑com­mand­ing vo­cal per­for­mance by Mark Farner. But the best track of the en­tire col­lec­tion just has to be the epic and ele­giac I’m Your Cap­tain, which ap­peared orig­i­nally on 1970 al­bum Closer To Home –an en­dur­ing clas­sic rock, er, clas­sic if there ever was one.

The only crit­i­cism of these sets is the dodgy re­pro of the orig­i­nal al­bum sleeves – the shiny glory of E Pluribus Funk, for ex­am­ple, now re­sem­bles a tatty beer mat.

Ge­off Bar­ton

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