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We're An American Band is the seventh studio album by American hard rock band Grand Funk Railroad, credited as Grand Funk. The album was released by Capitol Records on July 15, 1973 (see 1973 in music) and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America a little over a month after its release. Two singles were released from the album. The first single, "We're an American Band", was released on July 2, 1973 and the second, "Walk Like a Man", was released on October 29, 1973.
The album cover was originally covered in gold-colored foil on the outside, and the initial run of pressings were pressed in clear, dark-yellow vinyl.
We're an American Band was the group's first collaboration with producer/engineer Todd Rundgren. Rundgren and the band recorded the album at Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida on June 13–15, 1973. Rundgren would go on to produce the band's next album, Shinin' On, before the band switched to Jimmy Ienner.
The album's original issue, as well as of the "We're an American Band" single, was on translucent yellow vinyl, symbolic of a "Gold record." The album labels, above the side numbers, instructed listeners to play "at full volume." It included four stickers (two blue, and two red) with the Grand Funk "Pointing Finger" logo. Emphasizing the shortening of the group's name, largely for legal reasons, the word "Railroad" does not appear anywhere on the album sleeve, liner, or vinyl record.
Upon the album's release, We're an American Band became the band's best received album by critics, so far. Robert Christgau gave the album a B-, his highest rating for a Grand Funk Railroad album, although Shinin' On and Grand Funk Hits would both receive higher ratings. A modern review of the album by William Ruhlmann for Allmusic stated that the album was a departure from the band's usual material, which was mostly due to Todd Rundgren's production and Don Brewer's increase in lead vocal work. Ruhlmann also said that the album sounded more professional than their previous ones.
Having made several changes in their business and musical efforts in 1972, Grand Funk Railroad made even more extensive ones in 1973, beginning with their name, which was officially truncated to "Grand Funk." And keyboardist Craig Frost, credited as a sideman on Phoenix, the previous album, was now a full-fledged bandmember, filling out the musical arrangements. The most notable change, however, came with the hiring of Todd Rundgren to produce the band's eighth album. Rundgren, a pop/rock artist in his own right, was also known for his producing abilities, and he gave Grand Funk exactly what they were looking for: We're an American Band sounded nothing like its muddy, plodding predecessors.
Sonically, the record was sharp and detailed and the band's playing was far tighter and more accomplished. Most important, someone, whether the band or Rundgren, decided that gruff-voiced drummer Don Brewer should be employed as a lead singer as often as guitarist Mark Farner. Brewer also contributed more as a songwriter, and the results were immediate. The album's title song, an autobiographical account of life on the road written and sung by Brewer, was released in advance of the album and became a gold-selling number one hit, Grand Funk's first really successful single.
Despite the band's previous popularity, for many, it must have been the first Grand Funk record they either heard or bought. Elsewhere on the album, Farner contributed his usual wailing vocals and guitar, singing of his heartfelt, if simpleminded, political concerns. But We're an American Band really belonged to Brewer and Rundgren, and its success constituted a redefinition of Grand Funk that came just in time.
We're an American Band (song):
"We're an American Band" (from the album of the same name) is a 1973 song by the band Grand Funk Railroad. It was the group's first #1 single. Written by Don Brewer and produced by Todd Rundgren, its huge chart success broadened Grand Funk's appeal. It was sung by Don Brewer rather than Mark Farner, who usually took lead vocals.
Brewer's lyrics are somewhat autobiographical, detailing the band's recent tour and their energetic live performances. In the song, the band mentions traveling through Little Rock, Arkansas, as well as stopping to party with four groupies that sneak into their hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. The lyrics also mention "sweet sweet Connie", which is a reference to legendary groupie Connie Hamzy.
According to rock critic/writer Dave Marsh in his book, The Heart of Rock and Soul, Grand Funk was touring with the British group Humble Pie in early 1973. After one performance, the two groups were drinking in a bar when they began arguing over the merits of British versus American rock. Grand Funk drummer Don Brewer stood up and after bragging about American rock heroes such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley, proudly announced, "We're an American band!". Thus inspired, he wrote the song the next morning; by late 1973, it was the top-selling song in the world . A video was also made, showing the band playing the song as well as engaging in activities such as basketball, dirtbike riding, and watersports.
The original single was released on gold transparent vinyl.
Grand Funk Railroad (also known as Grand Funk) is an American rock band that was highly popular during the 1970s. Grand Funk Railroad toured constantly to packed arenas worldwide. A popular take on the band during its heyday was that, although the critics hated them, audiences loved them. The band's name is a play on words of the Grand Trunk Railroad, a railroad line that ran through the band's home town of Flint, Michigan
The band was formed in 1969 by Mark Farner and Don Brewer from Terry Knight and the Pack and Mel Schacher from Question Mark & the Mysterians; Knight soon became the band's manager. Knight named the band after the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, a well-known rail line in Michigan. First achieving recognition at the 1969 Atlanta Pop Festival, the band was signed by Capitol Records. After a raucous, well-received set on the first day of the festival, the group was asked back to play two additional days. Patterned after hard rock power trios such as Cream, the band, with Terry Knight's marketing savvy, developed its own popular style.
In 1969, the band released its first album titled On Time, which sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold record in 1970. In the same year, a second album, Grand Funk (aka "The Red Album"), was awarded gold status. The hit single "I'm Your Captain (Closer to Home)", from the album Closer to Home, also released in 1970, was considered stylistically representative of Terry Knight and the Pack's recordings. The band spent $100,000 on a New York Times Square billboard to advertise Closer to Home. In 1970, they sold more albums than any other American band and became a major concert attraction. By 1971, Grand Funk broke The Beatles' Shea Stadium attendance record by selling out in just 72 hours.
Despite critical pans and a lack of airplay, the group's first six albums (five studio releases and one live album) were quite successful. In 1970, Knight launched an intensive advertising campaign to promote the album Closer To Home. That album was certified multi-platinum despite a lack of critical approval. Following Closer To Home, Live Album was also released in 1970, and was another gold disc recipient. Survival and E Pluribus Funk were both released in 1971. E Pluribus Funk celebrated the Shea Stadium show with an embossed depiction of the stadium on the album cover's reverse.
By late 1971 the band was concerned with Knight's managerial style and fiscal responsibility. This growing dissatisfaction led Grand Funk Railroad to fire Knight in early 1972. Knight sued for breach of contract, which resulted in a protracted legal battle. At one point, Knight repossessed the band's gear before a gig at Madison Square Garden. In VH1's "Behind the Music" Grand Funk Railroad episode, Knight stated that the original contract would have run out in about three months, and that the smart decision for the band would have been to just wait out the time. However, the band felt they had no choice but to continue and fight for the rights to their career and name.
In 1972, Grand Funk Railroad added Craig Frost on keyboards full-time. Originally, Grand Funk attempted to attract Peter Frampton, late of Humble Pie; however, Frampton was not available due to signing a solo-record deal with A&M Records. The addition of Frost, however, a stylistic shift from Grand Funk's original garage-band based rock & roll roots to a more rhythm & blues/pop-rock-oriented style. With the new lineup, Grand Funk released its sixth album of original music Phoenix in 1972. The new combination worked.
To refine Grand Funk's sound, the band secured veteran musician Todd Rundgren as a producer. Their two most successful albums and two No. 1 hit singles resulted: the Don Brewer penned "We're an American Band" (from We're an American Band) and "The Loco-Motion" (from Shinin' On, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin and originally recorded by Little Eva). The album We're an American Band topped out at No. 2 on the charts, while the "We're an American Band" single, released during summer 1973, was Grand Funk's first No. 1 hit. "The Loco-Motion" followed in 1974 as Grand Funk's second chart topping single. Follow up top forty hits "Walk Like A Man" and "Shinin' On" sung and co-written by Don Brewer followed, and the band continued touring the U.S., Europe, and Japan.
In 1975, Grand Funk switched to Jimmy Ienner as producer and reverted to using their full name: "Grand Funk Railroad". The band released the album All the Girls in the World Beware!!!, which depicted the band member's heads superimposed on the bodies of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu. This album spawned the band's last two top ten hits, "Some Kind of Wonderful" and "Bad Time".
Although highly successful in the mid-1970s, tensions mounted within the band due to personal issues, burn-out, and musical direction. Despite these issues, Grand Funk forged ahead. Needing two more albums to complete their record deal with Capitol, Grand Funk embarked on a major tour and decided to record a double live album, Caught in the Act. The double album should have fulfilled the contract with Capitol; however, because it contained previously released material, Capitol requested an additional album to complete Grand Funk's contractual obligation. While pressures between the band members still existed, the members agreed to move forward and complete one more album for Capitol to avoid legalities similar to the ones that they endured with Terry Knight in 1972. The band recorded Born to Die and agreed not to release any information regarding their impending breakup in 1976.
However, Grand Funk found new life via interest by Frank Zappa in producing the band. Signing with MCA Records, the resulting album Good Singin', Good Playin' yielded little success. After this, Grand Funk Railroad decided once more to disband in 1976. [Source: Wikipedia & AMG]
• Mark Farner – vocals, guitars, conga, electric piano on "Creepin", harmonica
• Don Brewer – drums, percussion, vocals
• Mel Schacher – bass
• Craig Frost – keyboards
• "On Time" Release date: August 1969
• "Grand Funk" Release date: December 29, 1969
• "Closer to Home" Release date: July 1970
• "Live Album" Release Date: November 16, 1970
• "Survival" Release date: April 1971
• "E Pluribus Funk" Release date: November 1971
• "Phoenix" Release date: September 1972
• "We're an American Band" Release date: July 1973
• "Shinin' On" Release date: March 1974
• "All the Girls in the World Beware!!!" Release date: December 1974
01. "We're an American Band" (Don Brewer) – 3:27
02. "Stop Lookin' Back" (Brewer, Mark Farner) – 4:52
03. "Creepin'" (Farner) – 7:02
04. "Black Licorice" (Brewer, Farner) – 4:45
05. "The Railroad" (Farner) – 6:12
06. "Ain't Got Nobody" (Brewer, Farner) – 4:26
07. "Walk Like a Man" (Brewer, Farner) – 4:05
08. "Loneliest Rider" (Farner) – 5:17
09. "Hooray" (Brewer, Farner) – 4:05
10. "The End" (Brewer, Farner) – 4:11
11. "Stop Lookin' Back (Acoustic Mix)" (Brewer, Farner) – 3:04
12. "We're an American Band [2002 Remix]" (Brewer) – 3:32