Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Grand Funk

  • We're an American Band [Capitol, 1973] B-
  • Shinin' On [Capitol, 1974] B
  • Grand Funk Hits [Capitol, 1976] B+

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

We're an American Band [Capitol, 1973]
If it takes me three months to decide that this is a listenable hard rock record, just how listenable can it be? Well, Todd Rundgren has done remarkable things, that's for sure--the drumming has real punch, the organ fills attractively, and Don Brewer's singing is a relief. Great single, too. B-

Shinin' On [Capitol, 1974]
Now this really is an American band--confident, healthy, schlocky, uncomplicated on the surface and supporting all manner of contradictions underneath. I prefer the title cut, which bursts with a--you should pardon the expression--raw power they've never managed before, to "The Loco-Motion," where Mark sounds shaky. But how many bands get to record a ninth album, much less make it their best? B

Grand Funk Hits [Capitol, 1976]
This strictly post-Terry Knight compilation confirms my belief that they did most of their worthwhile recording with Todd Rundgren, although "Bad Time" and "Some Kind of Wonderful," from their first collaboration with Jimmy Ienner, are definitive plusses. The strategy is clear in retrospect--back to their junk-rock roots with ? and the Mysterians and maybe even Terry Knight & the Pack. Recycling riffs, upping the tempos, shuffling their limited vocal resources, and projecting the same populist sincerity that always made them more than a hype, they fuse their heavy beginnings with the hooks they were originally too mythic to bother with on this creditable testament. B+

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