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All The Girls In The World Beware!!!
Grand Funk

Capitol 11356
Released: December 1974
Chart Peak: #10
Weeks Charted: 24
Certified Gold: 12/18/74

It's a measure of Grand Funk's less than overwhelming critical acceptance that the chief topic of interest for most reviewers has been the band's current producer. Their fans probably couldn't care less -- they'll always be true. But producers have made a difference for Grand Funk. It's a long way from Terry Knight's sludge, which made early albums almost unlistenable, to the tight gloss Todd Rundgren imposed on We're an American Band, still their most universally accessible album. It's the Age of the Producer, they tell us, so the current Grand Funk helmsman Jimmy Ienner shares in the limelight.

As a producer/creator, Ienner presents contradictions of taste and approach. Since 1972, he and the Raspberries have created several all-stops-out production masterpieces. But during that period his other major client was the brass rock band Lighthouse, purveyors of an unwieldy jazz-rock combination fare removed from the Raspberries' crisp pop style. Though he occasionally made Lighthouse listenable, it remained a dubious venture.

Grand Funk - All The Girls In The World Beware
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Grand Funk's simplistic, ponderous rock presents another kind of challenge for Ienner. The production is sparse by his standards (though fairly lavish for Grand Funk), and generally fails to impress. On "Runnin'" he adds a raft of brass which, with Don Brewere's gruff flat vocal, combines to create a convincing imitation of Chicago or Lighthouse -- the last thing anyone would want to hear from Grand Funk. The horns sound better on the old Howard Tate tune, "Look at Granny Run Run." But they dilute much of the solid-rock impact of "Wild," turning it to flaccid rock. Some pleasant strings are featured on "Memories," but Mark Farner's vocal overkill desdroys the delicate mood of the song. Otherwise, Ienner's most noticeable production effect is the dense, brooding atmosphere of the longest track, "Good & Evil." It's also the album's low point, with a strangled vocal mouthing some sort of bastardized gumbo mumbo jumbo: Grand Funk should leave the hoodoo to those who do it with a touch of class, like Dr. John.

But all of this is to overlook the band's own direction and its roots -- and those account for the album's considerable strengths. Like many Midwestern bands of the past (the Rationals, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels) and their spiritual brethren on the East Coast (the Rascals, Vagrants), their original influences comsisted of the soul music of the Sixties. In that vein, "Responsibility" and "Look at Granny Run Run" are heavy on the organ and R&B style. Most bands of this stripe ran into the familiar problem of making solid but inferior imitations of songs in the R&B catalog. But entertaining music can still result. The band's best shot is on the hit single, "Some Kind of Wonderful," a remarkable copy of the obscure 1967 single of the Soul Brothers Six. The band falls far short of the original's vocal power, but there's undeniable strength in the stripped-to-the-bone bass throb and gunshot drum work.

And a pair of Grand Funk originals rank among the best they've cut. "Life" is a fast-paced, spirited rocker, short on production frills. "Bad Time" is charming, with a piquant resemblance to another obscure '67 record, a brilliant Michigan classic called "Love to Love" by the Thyme. It represents a delightful and hitherto unknown side of Grand Funk's artistry.

Although All the Girls in the World Beware!!! is still flawed and inconsistent, the best cuts foreshadow new realms of achievement for the band. And while each producer has influenced them, it may now be time to stress the band's own accomplishments. The producer is now in the back seat and it seems that's where he belongs.

- Ken Barnes, Rolling Stone, 3/27/75.

Bonus Review!

One of the world's most successful rock conglomerates comes up with a set of exactly what they do best: good, hard, unpretentious rock with a soft tune or two tossed in for added flavor. Don't expect any radical changes here. The band does seem to become a bit more sophisticated, both instrumentally and vocally, with each release. But the basic premise remains the same: rock as well as you can. Thus, Grand Funk, with help from producer Jimmy Ienner, hand us a set of commercial material with enough singles to last a year and a couple of things that lend themselves to FM play as well. Grand Funk have been the butt of many a joke throughout their career. Yet the undisputed fact remains that they have continually presented one and all with some of the most appetizing, salable music around. This LP offers some more.

- Billboard, 1974.

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