It’s tempting to dismiss Grand Funk Railroad as a wannabe Cream. After all, it’s what people have been saying for years. But before they were trashed, trivialized, and summarily dismissed, they ruled the world. For a few years in the 70s, bands didn’t get much bigger. They sold out stadiums, stormed the charts, and even got fired from a supporting gig with Led Zeppelin after upstaging the main act. They were fresh, they were funky, and they were fun. They were also very, very loud. Turn your volume up to the max and prepare for a trip down memory lane as we count down the 10 best Grand Funk Railroad songs of all time.
10. Walk Like A Man
Kicking things off in style is this crisp Todd Rundgren-produced belter. If you can find any other song by any other band that manages to define 70s hard rock better than “Walk Like A Man,” it’d be a miracle. Strutting, swaggering, and with a groove you can’t help but tap your foot to, it’s a great track.
Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” might get all the glory, but Grand Funk’s song of the same name isn’t too shabby either. Moody, tense, and underscored by some mind-melting guitar, it’s as disturbing as the title suggests. The stripped-back production and the fuzzy, feedback-laden intro only help add to the chaos. If you weren’t feeling on edge at the start of the song, you will by the end.
8. Into the Sun
Stretching over 6 minutes long and featuring multiple tempo and mood changes throughout, “Into the Sun” showcases the musical prowess of a band just starting to feel its power. Taken from 1969’s “On Time,” these were still early days for Grand Funk. They’d only recently been signed and their arena rock phase was still to come. But thanks to a killer vocal from Mark Farner and a toe-tapping performance from Mel Schacher and Don Brewer, it still stands up as one of the finest moments.
7. I Can Feel Him in the Morning
As ultimateclassicrock.com says, “I Can Feel Him in the Morning” from the band’s “Survival” album is a thing of sheer beauty. Its starts with a group of children talking about God before easing gently into some gentle, folksy guitar picking. The lyrics are retrospective and slightly naive in a very 1971 way. It might not have the swagger of the band’s later tracks, but it’s still a lovely thing.
6. The Loco-Motion
If you had to pick a band to cover Little Eva’s “The Loco-Motion,” Grand Funk Railroad wouldn’t be the first name to spring to mind. Yet strangely, it makes more sense than you’d think – three of the original band members were part of the Motown-inspired garage rock band, Terry Knight and the Pack. Either way, it’s a cracking cover, with just enough rock layered on top of the shiny pop to keep things funky. Unsurprisingly, it gave Grand Funk another No. 1 to add to their collection.
5. Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother
Taken from 1970’s “Closer to Home,” “Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother” showcases Grand Funk at their heaviest. Big and loud were how the boys liked to do things in those days, and big and loud is exactly what this is. But for all the thunder, there’s a soulful element to the track that doesn’t go amiss. Even when the riffs are threatening to surge past the point of no return, the funky, relentless grove keeps things grounded.
4. Footstompin’ Music
Ranked as one of the best Grand Funk songs by TheTopTens, “Footstompin’ Music” is exactly as the title describes. The straightforward rock that Grand Funk does so well is given an upgrade with the addition of some R&B and soul, resulting in a track that rock, rolled, and swayed all the way to the Top 30. Unsurprisingly, the band loved the track just as much as the rest of us, using it as the opening track to most of their concerts from thereon.
3. Are You Ready?
You couldn’t have asked for a finer introduction to Grand Funk than “Are You Ready?”, their first song from their first album. Everything we needed to know about the band was laid out for us in those first three minutes. It’s loud, it’s proud, and it’s got a groove that just won’t quit. The band was ready to rock, roll, and swagger all the way to the top, and boy, were they ready.
2. I’m Your Captain (Closer To Home)
Described by returnofrock.com as Mark Farner’s magnum opus, few songs exemplify what Grand Funk were all about better than “I’m Your Captain (Closer To Home).” Any other song that lasted over ten minutes would stretch your concentration to breaking point. It’s a testament to the band’s prowess that it didn’t here. If anything, we were left wanting more. The ebbs, the flows, the drama, the catchy verses, the hooky choruses… it’s all there, and it’s all magnificent.
1. We’re an American Band
If anyone ever had any doubts about Grand Funk’s nationality, “We’re an American Band” put the questions to bed. The story goes that Don Brewer was having a few after-show drinks with the guys from Humble Pie and decided to get into an argument about British music versus American music. After extolling the virtues of American legends like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard, Brewer slammed down his drink, stood up, puffed out his chest, and proudly declared “We’re an American band.” The next morning, he sat down and committed his words to paper. Brewer, of course, denies all this, but either way, this is the song that defines the band like no other. That, along with legendary lines like “Come on, dudes, let’s get it on!,” gets it the No 1 spot on our list of the 10 best Great Funk Railroad songs.