Sorry I didn’t post yesterday but I was at the doctor’s; I told him that I couldn’t stop singing Bing Crosby, Perry Como and Frank Sinatra songs. He told me I was showing signs of the crooner’s virus. Well, seeing as I have some new followers I better make my posts both educational and entertaining, just like a Bruce Willis movie. Speaking of whom, I hear he’s going to reprise his John McClane role once again. Well you know what they say about old habits…..
Today’s tasty excessive morsel is the 1970 release by Grand Funk Railroad imaginatively titled ‘Live Album’. The reception of Live Album by music critics upon the album’s release were unfavorable. Popular music critic Robert Christgau said of the album “I know they have a great–even grand–audience. But an audience and a live album aren’t the same thing–not the same thing at all”. He then gave the album a C- rating. Despite the massive dislike of the album by music critics, Live Album became very successful in the United States, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and crossed over to the R&B Albums chart at No. 17—the band’s only album to do so. The album was so successful that it was certified gold by the RIAOA a week after its release and was eventually certified 2x multi-platinum in 1991.
Other than the hit We’re An American Band, the awful cover version of Little Eva’s The Locomotion and the wild, shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner, the bong-rattling bass of Mel Schacher and the competent drum work of Don Brewer (all thanks to Homer Simpson for this education) everything I knew about the Michigan band could be written on the back of a stamp. So will this album help to fill in some gaps in my knowledge?
To say this album rocks harder than a bear with rocks is an understatement! From start to finish, despite a few wobbles on the way, Live Album contains some of the most powerful, loud, aggressive and fiery music I’ve heard for a while. Cthulhu knows how it must have sounded back when it first came out! There are some amazing, top class, hard rock songs on here, the guitar work is blistering, yes the bass playing is bong-rattling and the drummer is damn more than competent! This album wants you to have a bloody good time and it delivers some bloody good fun!
Is it excessive? Well, 3 songs over ten minutes is starting to creep into excessivity but, it’s not that excessive. Were the critics right? No! This is a great live document of a great live act and despite the negativity from critics, it did sell by the shedloads proving that most music critics have cloth ears. Would I listen to it again? I’m listening to it as I write this post! Would I recommend it? That’s a big fat yes! Is there a drum solo? You know when I mentioned the few wobbles earlier? Well, the song Mark Says Alright threatens to feature a drum solo but good sense prevails and it becomes a tight, hard rockin’ jam. “Phew, dodged a bullet!” or so I thought, then along comes T.N.U.C (I see what they did there!) “Oh, deep joy!”, I exclaim “a dull-as-funk drum solo! My cup runneth over!” Though unlike some bands I could mention, it’s doesn’t take up the entire side of one album! Oh, I know what’s waiting for me in future posts! Cthulhu help me, I know! #PrayForLaBarbaAzul.
So that’s half a point knocked off the total score, which still brings it to a very respectable 8/10, which is the highest score so far of the 3 albums featured. Let’s see how 1975’s Caught In The Act compares when we get there. Until that time, join me again as I delve into another 70’s excess-driven double live rock album!