Top 10 Grand Funk Albums (Grand Funk Railroad)

Grand Funk Albums

Photos – Premier Talent Associates-on page 44. / Public domain via Creative Commons

Our Top 10 Grand Funk Albums list looks at the catalog of one of our favorite rock bands. Grand Funk was huge in the 1970s. Everyone loved Grand Funk. The problem is many young people below the age of thirty or even forty are not familiar with their work. Their legacy has not filtered into newer generations like it should have. Young people don’t listen to the radio, and even if they did, try finding a classic rock station that plays a deep catalog of Grand Funk songs. They don’t. Even classic rock radio is very controlled now. The only Grand Funk that gets played are songs like “We’re An American Band,” “Closer to Home,” and a few of the mid-70s hits like “Locomotion,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” and “Bad Time.” Yet, as Grand Funk fans, we all know there is much more great stuff.

MUST INCLUDE THE LIVE ALBUMS

Most of our top 10 album lists only consider a band or artist’s studio albums. However, Grand Funk was an incredibly great band to see live. They were among the most exciting groups of the classic rock era ever to grace the stage. Furthermore, Capitol Records was able to capture that magic on vinyl…. twice! So, there was no way we would exclude two of their great live albums from this list. And, of course, that makes it more difficult because that meant we had to exclude two excellent studio albums. But that’s how these top 10 lists go.

The history of classic rock is filled with the legacy of great power trios. Bands like Cream, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Emerson Lake & Palmer, etc….. However, sometimes it’s forgotten that Grand Funk Railroad was an incredibly powerful trio during their first three years. When Grand Funk Railroad released their first album in 1969, the band consisted of Mark Farner on guitars, keyboards, and lead vocals, Mel Schacher on bass, and Don Brewer on drums. That same lineup would produce the band’s first five albums entitled On Time (1969), Grand Funk (1969), Closer to Home (1970), Live Album (1970). Survival (1971), E Pluribus Funk (1971), and Phoenix (1972). On the Phoenix album appeared keyboardist Craig Frost, who would then become a permanent band member.

EXPANDING THE BAND

Grand Funk’s first release as a quartet featuring Mark Farner, Mel Schacher, Don Brewer, and Craig Frost would become a monster hit entitled We’re an American Band. The album was released in 1974. Produced by the genius of Todd Rundgren, the album and hit single “We’re an American Band” turned Grand Funk into a household name, making them the biggest band in the world at the time. Todd Rundgren would also produce the follow-up album to We’re an American Band entitled  Shinin’ On. Released in 1974, the album Shinin’ On would spawn another massive hit with a remake of Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s “The Locomotion.”

A HIT MAKING MACHINE

Grand Funk Railroad had become a hit-making machine in 1974. Their next release would produce two more big hits. The album All the Girls in the World Beware!!!  was released at the end of 1974. It would keep the band at the top of the pop charts with the smash singles “Some Kind Of Wonderful” and “Bad Time.” In 1975, Grand Funk reached the zenith of their commercial popularity. They were a smoking live band and an incredible success on the pop charts. In 1975, they also released a great sounding, heart-pounding, foot-stomping, grand slam of a live album called Caught In the Act. I played that sucker every day.

As much success as Grand Funk enjoyed in 1975 on the charts, it all ended the following year in 1976. Grand Funk Railroad released two albums in 1976. The first album, entitled Born To Die, was released in January. The second album was released in the summer entitled Good Singing Good Playing. Neither album spawned any hit singles like the band’s previous two albums. Nonetheless, they were good albums that never received the credit they deserved, especially the final record produced by Frank Zappa. Good Singing Good Playing would be the last Grand Funk album to feature the iconic lineup of Mark Farner, Mel Schacher, Don Brewer, and Craig Frost.

Two more Grand Funk albums were released after the issue of Good Singing Good Playing. The album Grand Funk Lives was released in 1981. However, the record featured a different lineup, with it being the first Grand Funk studio album ever released without Mel Schacher on bass. The musicians on the Grand Funk Lives album included original iconic members Mark Farner and Don Brewer. The two new members included Dennis Bellinger on bass and Lance Duncan Ong on keys.

THE FINAL ALBUMS

The final studio album ever released by Grand Funk was released in 1983 entitled What’s Funk? The lineup on the record included Mark Farner and Don Brewer, and on bass was Dennis Bellinger. The band would never release another studio record. Tons of compilations would be released over the years. Mark Farner would release a series of solo albums. In 2002, a new Grand Funk  Live album was released, a compilation of live recordings from their 1971 tour.

THE SHOW MUST GO ONE

In 2023, Grand Funk continues to play live shows. However, Mark Farner is not part of the band touring under the Grand Funk name. The band includes two-thirds of the original trio, with Don Brewer playing drums and Mel Schacher back on bass. The current touring lineup also includes ex-Kiss member Bruce Kulick on guitar and ex-38 Special lead singer and keyboardist Max Carl sharing the lead vocal responsibilities. Keyboardist Tim Cashion is also part of the band.

We hope you enjoy our list of Top 10 Grand Funk albums. We highly recommend every Grand Funk album on this list. We know long-time Grand Funk fans already own them all. So, this is for those who have yet to explore the band’s fabulous catalog.

TOP 10 GRAND FUNK ALBUMS

# 10 – Good Singin’ Good Playing

Good Singing Good Playing Grand Funk Albums

Good Singing Great Playing was the final great Grand Funk Album. The album’s production, produced by Frank Zappa, is brilliant. Frank Zappa plays some great guitar on the record and knew how to get the best out of the band. When we interviewed Don Brewer, he mentioned that one of his favorite songs on the album was the track “Just Coudn’t Wait.”

# 9 – Shinin’ On

Grand Funk Albums

Grand Funk’s Shinin’ On was released in 1974. The album featured the big hit single “The Locomotion.” Other standout tracks on the record that we loved included “Shinin’ On,” “Carry Me Through,” and “Mr. Pretty Boy.”

# 8 – Caught In The Act

Grand Funk Albums Caught In The Act

Grand Funk’s Caught In The Act is the first of two live albums on this Top 10 Grand Funk Albums list. Released in 1975 at the peak of the band’s popularity, this two-record set was to die for. Listen to the album’s opening track, “Foot Stomping Music,” and compare that to the studio release. Holy Smokes! Within just a few seconds, you will understand.

# 7 – All the Girls in the World Beware!!!

All the Girls in the World Beware!!! Grand Funk Albums

The smoking Grand Funk album All the Girls in the World Beware!!!  was a massive commercial success in which every song on the album just blew fans away. The big hits were “Bad Time,” and “Some Kind Of Wonderful,” but one must check out the great title track. The addition of Craig Frost to the band added to the band’s sound as the dude was a smoking rock and roll organist.

# 6 – E Pluribus Funk

E Pluribus Funk Grand Funk Albums

Continuing our list of top 10 Grand Funk albums, we turn to the great Grand Funk album E Pluribus Funk. The album was released in 1971. As the Vietnam War continued to rage on in 1971, the band responded with their protest song “People, Let’s Stop the War.” The song was also released as the first single from this great record just after the band had broken The Beatles attendance record at Shea Stadium which was presented on the album’s back cover.

# 5 – On Time

On Time Grand Funk Albums

The fantastic Grand Funk album On Time was released in 1969. On Time was Grand Funk’s debut album. Initially, it did not sell very well, but over time, On Time became a big seller as the band’s popularity grew with the success of their later albums. Songs like “Time Machine, Are You Ready, Into The Sun,” and “Heartbreaker” demonstrated that Grand Funk was a band to be reckoned with.

# 4 – Grand Funk / Survival

Grand Funk Red Album

Often referred to as Grand Funk’s “Red Album,” this great Grand Funk record was released in 1969 and stood as the follow-up to their debut album. The record featured a fantastic cover of the Animals’ song “Inside Looking Out” in a ten-minute blistering version that closed the record. This is a killer Grand Funk album that must be heard. Of course, we couldn’t leave Survival off this list, so we snuck it in here tied at number four. The album featured rip-roaring covers of the Stones “Gimme Shelter” and Dave Mason’s “Feeling Alright.”

# 3 – We’re an American Band

Grand Funk Albums

Grand Funk’s album We’re an American Band was the band’s breakthrough album that made them world superstars. Of course, we all know the album’s massive hit single We’re an American Band, but there were so many other great songs on the record, such as “Black Licorice,” “Stop Lookin’ Back,” and “Creepin.”

# 2 – Closer To Home

Closer To Home Grand Funk Albums

As we close in on the number one spot on our top 10 Grand Funk Albums list, we turn to the excellent studio album Closer to Home. The album was released in 1970. The album’s highlight was, of course, the ten-minute closing track, “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home).” However, every track on this smoking album was brilliant. Other highlights also included  “Mean Mistreater,” “I Don’t Have to Sing the Blues,” and “Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother.”

# 1 – Live Album

Grand Funk Live Album

Our choice for the number one Grand Funk album is, hands down, their great live album released in 1970 entitled Grand Funk Live Album. The album was released as a two-record set that defined that killer live Grand Funk sound that showcased how tight and energetic the band was live on stage. Check out side four’s “Into The Sun.” This brilliant record captured the great Grand Funk doing what they did best. You must own this album.

Top 10 Grand Funk Albums (Grand Funk Railroad) article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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