Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Grand Funk Railroad

  • Grand Funk [Capitol, 1969] C
  • Closer to Home [Capitol, 1970] C+
  • Live Album [Capitol, 1970] C-
  • E Pluribus Funk [Capitol, 1971] C
  • Survival [Capitol, 1971] C
  • Phoenix [Capitol, 1972] C-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Grand Funk [Capitol, 1969]
This group is creating a stir, apparently because they play faster than Iron Butterfly. Which I grant is a step in the right direction. I saw them live in Detroit before I knew any of this. I enjoyed them for 15 minutes, tolerated them for five, and hated them for 40. This lp, their second, isn't as good as that performance. C

Closer to Home [Capitol, 1970]
What's happening to me? Maybe it's that damned billboard. Or maybe I'm beginning to appreciate--I said appreciate--their straight-ahead celebration of beat, amplification, and youthful camaraderie. After all, rock and roll has always been loud, and its rhythms have always been described as "heavy." And at least Mark Farner doesn't pretend to bluesmanship. C+

Live Album [Capitol, 1970]
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. C-

E Pluribus Funk [Capitol, 1971]
The usual competent loud rock with the usual paucity of drive and detail--not only does it plod, it plods crudely. Likable, in its way--I find myself touched by "People, Let's Stop the War." But it's not telling me anything I don't already know. C

Survival [Capitol, 1971]
For about a year I've been saying that people aren't stupid, that there has to be something new about this music, and of course there is--it Americanizes Led Zeppelin with a fervent ingenuousness that does justice to the broad gestures of mass art. But now I read where various men of taste, having reached similar conclusions, claim in addition actually to like the stuff. That's going too far. C

Phoenix [Capitol, 1972]
I guess I turn in my Free Grand Funk button, because I think this declaration of independence from the dastardly Terry Knight continues their two-year decline. Especially annoying is Mark Farner's singing, which combines the worst of Jack Bruce with the worst of Eddie Fisher, but the music--including Craig Frost's organ--isn't what you'd call dynamic. Sorry, really, but . . . C-

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