E Pluribus Funk
Grand Funk Railroad
Released: November 1971
Chart Peak: #5
Weeks Charted: 30
Certified Gold: 11/29/71
It's time to admit we were wrong about Grand Funk. Oh, we were right too, but wrong just the same. Those three or four (I forget, having long since given them away) albums that came before Survival were pretty bad, there's no question of that. But we should have recognized that this band had that special something, that original sound everybody tries for. The thing was, they just hadn't perfected it yet, or learned to employ it to maximum advantage.
To pull this off as well as they did required a superb understanding of dynamics -- the way energy builds and affects the audience in a song, and how the interaction of the instruments within the structure of the song accomplishes this. It also calls for a flawless sense of timing. With this new album, Grand Funk shows that they have got both lessons down. Not as well as a group like the Stones, the Yardbirds, the MC5 or many others, but well enough to begin thinking of themselves in terms of such company. Of course, they may not be interested in the rewards of true musicianship, when they've already placed themselves outside and beyond all other groups, in a class all their own, through their public relations campaigns. But it's nice to know their popularity is at least justified, on some level.
Many of the other songs are fillers, but all have their interesting points. "I Come Tumblin'" is a good energy workout. It has the token lyrics about "let's teach our children to love each other." but basically it's just a showcase for instrumental prowess. The drums tumble through the cut in fine fashion, there's plenty of high-volume guitar and bass action, speedy-finger runs, etc. In short, just the sort of thing Cream was once noted for.
"Save the Land" is solid, but doesn't really take off as a structure or a song. The lyrics, as with every song on this LP, reflect the political platform represented by the coinage of the Grand Funk Nation. "Let's get together and kill this fear," "with just a little more understanding the whole world will get by," "we need each other to live in peace and harmony," "we don't need a leader to tell us what's wrong," "we can't live without controlling our birth," "we must replace what we took out of the ground," "with love there's nothing to fear," and, "inevitably, "let's get together." Those quotes are taken from six songs but they might as well be from one, the message and tone is so close. Save the land, stop the war, get together and love one another as brothers, and then we can stomp our feet and have a good time.
Not such a bad program, when you think about it. And presented through such good, powerful music it can hardly do Grand Funk's listeners any harm. It might rankle the MC5's fans to see these guys succeeding with political rock, and the injustice of it bothers me too, but let's be thankful for what we've got. E Pluribus Funk: out of many, Grand Funk. It could've been much worse.
- Greg Shaw, Phonograph Record, 1/72.
The hysteria (negative) that followed the appearance of Presley, the Beatles, and rock-and-roll in general is endlessly, if correctly, pointed to by rock critics as the Establishment's paranoia, while the hysteria (positive) that welcomed rock and its saints is seen as healthful, cleansing, uplifting, and all that. GFR reverses the process; they create a positive hysteria among "the people," "youth," "us" -- all the titles and tribles that rock critics claim to represent -- and they create a negative hysteria among the critics themselves.
Neither GFR nor the critics' reaction to them are worth all the hysteria. The group is competent and monotonous; they sound like an average small-town rock trio on a good night. They're sincere in what they do, and they think they do it well. With $6,000,000 in orders from record distributors even before this LP was released, they've got some kind of right to think so. Terry Knight, their discoverer, producer, and mentor, may claim more for them than they actually are (it's hard not to) but Terry Knight (remember Terry Knight & The Pack and their five hits in a row in the mid-Sixties?) got as thorough an emotional gutting by the record indusry as a person can get. His old label Cameo (remember the Cameo/Parkway stock scandals?) kept him under contract, refused to let him record, and froze royalties, due him. Maybe GFR is Knight's revenge -- on the music industry, on listeners, on bands, on music in general. Based on what he went through, he can hardly be blamed. He is wealthy and powerful now, and the industry pays court to him. When he's alone, I hope he has a good, bitter laugh about it. He deserves to come out of this whole affair with something that money can't buy.
- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 2/72.
Any concert or album release from Grand Funk Railroad means excitement. E Pluribus Funk is their first release on their own Grand Funk Railroad label and that's special. The initial album in a dime cut round pocket in silver foil is jammed packed of just what the fans of the kings of hard rock expect. The music is at its best. Look for this at the top almost instantly.
- Billboard, 1972.
It's really amazing how Funk keeps coming up with new material since this is their sixth album in about two years. This album shows some fine writing talent and also the quality of the recording is much better than on Survival. On this album it's much easier to distinguish the leads -- they don't just sound like a bunch of noise and distortion.
The album's opener, "Footstompin' Music," is just what the title says. It overflows with energy and happiness. "People Let's Stop The War" contains some words of wisdom from Mr. Richard Nixon and "Upsetter" and "I Come Tumblin'" are two very live songs. The orchestral arrangements on the album (done by Tom Baker) add a lot to the album. In some parts the orchestra seems to jump out at you.
- Greg Gohde, Hit Parader, 6/72.
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