Thursday, August 07, 2008

You say we need a revolution? It seems to be the only solution.

Buying vinyl was something that exploded in my life around 2004. Even before I had a record player that worked I was buying records. For $.25, it's hard to pass up an album that seems to look perfectly fine. Even if the record doesn't work too well, you then get a perfect wall hanger. Tunes in Voorhees had a large selection of decent records and one that I bought for one song has turned into one of those rock experiences that just sits with you. That record, surprisingly, is Grand Funk Railroad's Closer to Home. My Dad loves the track "I'm Your Captain" was the track I bought it for. It's a long, epic that you never hear except rarely on the radio. Grand Funk gets a bad rep for it's terrible 70's cover songs and for the equally cheesey "We're An American Band" which just gets overplayed. If the tracks on this album were played in heavy rotation, you would wonder why they aren't as accoladed as bands like Cream and Zeppelin. That aside, this record is proof positive that buying vinyl is so worth it. And now that I have a record player, this still gets heavy rotation.

I lived with a good friend for a year in college at an epic party apartment. I had an ever growing record collection and at parties we would spin records all night rather than hook up an iPod that some drunken fool could wander over to and change what was playing. This wasn't one of the records we played during parties but this was one that if you were to ask either of my too apartment mates, they would know what I was talking about. It was enrapturing. It was gratifying. After my youth stealing music from Napster before Metallica pussed out and complained and the RIAA finally stepped in, it was the perfectly legal alternative. I bought this album for a dollar. And I listened to it non-stop and then bought the CD. That's what we call genius at work. I basically was given the record for nothing and after loving it, went and bought it on CD to support the record industry more or less. See, this is why music sharing isn't a bad thing. If you get turned on to an artist, you end up buying their music. Even if this music artist, like Grand Funk, put the funk back in defunkt.... ok that pun is a stretch but still. Even though I could have easily gone on Soulseek or Limewire or Bittorrent and ganked the shit out of this amazing record, I didn't. I bought it. And forever loved it.

Why does Grand Funk Railroad's Closer to Home rock so hard? Well, let's start with the amazing first track, "Sin's A Good Mans Brother." It may be one of the best rock songs you never heard and it is an empowering song screaming for change. Whether it's for revolution or solidarity, it shows that "one just like the other, sin's a good mans brother... and that's not right." It's a blistering rock song that needs to be spread far and wide. Obama, use this shit for your campaign and I will donate AND volunteer. "Aimless Lady" & "Nothing is the Same" rock just as hard but maybe with a little less meaning and heart behind them. This doesn't discredit the tracks, but it's something to be said when the opening track of an album is as powerful as "Sin's a Good Mans Brother" is. "Hooked on Love" is a rollicking jam as is "Get it Together" and "Mean Mistreater" is as angsty a blues song as any emo track to come down the line. "I'm Your Captain" closes the record and there ain't nothing more satisfying than closing the album with such a sprawling epic.

I listened to this record nonstop for months. It isn't anything groundbreaking... but it was for me. Being a fan of rock and roll music, this was a strange find. I was perplexed that a band I knew of could be as amazing as this without me knowing it. It really opened my mind to just ging for the gusto and buying cheap records to discover music. It really lead me to believe to NOT believe what you hear on the radio or what you know from popular culture to be the accepted norm of great rock music. Grand Funk Railroad, a band I would never have thought was as great as this record makes them to be, could ever exist. God I love vinyl.

1. The Who - Tommy
2. Beck - Odelay
3. Television - Marquee Moon
4. Weezer - Pinkerton
5. Brian Eno - Before and After Science
6. Wilco - A Ghost is Born
7. The Beatles - Rubber Soul
8. Grand Funk Rail - Closer to Home

Up Next - Foo Fighters' The Colour and the Shape


Ealer said...

god this album rules

leo said...

This is a great album. It's funny that you said that it's rare to hear "I'm Your Captain" because the first time I heard it was in fact on radio.

There used to be this decent classic rock station in Lancaster, and when I first started driving, that was all I listened to besides Phish concert/mix tapes (and they were real TAPES). Some DJs were lame, but there were some who weren't afraid to play long jams, and I remember hearing that a couple times and thinking that end of it (i'm getting closer to my hommmmmme...) was so beautiful when they bring in the flutes. I went out and found this album because of that.

Other cool tracks that I found that way: Yes's "Roundabout," Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein," and Ozzy's "No More Tears." Sorry for long anecdotes, but your brought back memories.