Live The 1971 Tour
Pawed by Mott the Dog
re-mastered by Ella Crew
During 1970 and 1971 the Power Trio “Grand Funk Railroad”
(Mark Farner, Don Brewer, and Mel Schacher) under the management of Terry Knight
set out to become the biggest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in America. Not only did
they succeed, but they even surpassed their own expectations.
In the two years they released five albums: ‘On Time’,
‘Grand Funk’, ‘Closer to Home’, and the landmark ‘Live Album’, which
was released as a wart’s and all exercise with no over dubs but just the music
the way it was played on the night.
It was a very brave thing to do at the time. It would have
been so much easier and safer to have taken the tapes away and polished them up
in the studio as most bands did, replacing bum notes, and off key singing. But
in true Yankee style it was ‘damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead’. In my
opinion the idea worked. What you lost in perfection on that album you certainly
made up for in excitement.
The main part of this concert was recorded at Shea Stadium,
New York, on the 7th September 1971. By this time Grand Funk Railroad had
reached their aim and was the biggest band in the land. Fortunately, the Shea
Stadium concert tapes were dug out in 2002 and Capital Records realized what a
little gold mine they were sitting on. Even better news was discovered when
complete tapes of the concerts in Chicago and Detroit from two months before the
Shea Stadium gig were found in perfect condition.
All these tapes were handed over to David. K. Tedds, who has
done a marvelous job of seamlessly putting together an entire show from that hot
summer of ’71 and leaving it in its original running order with all the stage
announcements, crowd cheering, and atmosphere of a good old seventies Rock
‘n’ Roll Concert.
The music starts out with the intro taken from ‘2001’ - a
marvelous way of getting the audience on their feet, followed by Grand Funk
Railroad’s traditional opener “Are You Ready”, which keeps the audience on
their feet and rockin’.
The band storms through a set of all the highlights from
their first five albums, and even include one new song, the soon to be classic
Footstompin’ Music, which wasn’t officially to be released for a few more
months on their next album ‘E Pluribus Funk’.
The medley of ‘I’m Your Captain/Closer to Home/Hooked on
Love/Get it Together’ in the center of the set is the true work of artists
playing at their peak of their powers as they showed at Shea Stadium.
The version of T.N.U.C. is seventeen minutes long and allows
every member of the band space to stretch out and show their skills. Mark Farner
was the obvious focal point of the band playing lead guitar, most of the lead
vocals, keyboards, and at the time wrote all the songs. So he was the obvious
person to get all the attention. But during T.N.U.C. Mel Schacher got to show
off his dexterous bass playing, and Don Brewer takes a 10-minute drum solo that
even listening to on audio he manages to keep interesting (you can hear on the
record that he certainly had the Detroit audience on his side).
We then get two cover versions to bring the set proper
(before encore time) to a rousing conclusion. First we have a 15-minute version
of The Animals song, Inside Looking Out written by Eric Burden and future Jimi
Hendrix manager Chas Chandler. Grand Funk Railroad take it apart and then smack
it back together again in their own style with some wonderfully sprawling guitar
solos and plenty of pathos in Mark Farner’s endeavors to sing Eric Burdon’s
words. You even get another short Brewer drum solo just in case you had not had
enough in T.N.U.C.
Then with the introduction from Mark Farner of ‘This Song
is our Generation’s National Anthem’ the band scream into a powerful version
of the Stones’ Gimmie Shelter, which may not have the light and shade of the
Stones’ original, but what it lacks in grace it more than makes up for in
power and enthusiasm.
After this there is only one song Grand Funk Railroad could
possibly finish with - Into The Sun. (In those days seeing Grand Funk Railroad
without them playing Into The Sun would be a bit like seeing Lynard Skynard
without them doing Freebird, or Deep Purple without Smoke on the Water.) Into
the Sun starts off with the main lick played over softly until the first sung
verse, where from this point onwards it builds and builds from guitar breaks to
heavier drumming to Mel Schacher ringing every note out of the bass guitar until
it reaches a thunderous climax. This version form Detroit (Motor City) is by far
the most exciting ever officially released and worth the price of the album on
To get yourself a little slice of the American Rock ‘n’
Roll dream, go out and get yourself a copy of Grand Funk Railroad’s ‘Live.
The 1971 Tour’, put it in your CD player, turn it up to 11, and enjoy.
Mark Farner - Guitar, Organ, Harmonica, Percussion, and
Don Brewer - Drums and Vocals
Mel Schacher - Bass and Percussion
Are You Ready
I’m Your Captain/Closer to Home/Hooked on Love/Get it Together
Inside Looking Out
Into The Sun
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