Friday, June 26, 2009

Grand Funk Railroaded; Michael Jackson; Sky Saxon

THE SECRET MUSEUM: Michael Mooney & Jim Webb

Michael Mooney wrote:

If he never recorded another note of music, Michael Jackson would still be remarkable for the initial run of singles the Jackson 5 released between October 7, 1969 and August 28, 1970 (the day preceding his 12th birthday.) Four great songs, four number ones. Michael the single-white-gloved moonwalking pop phenomenon never meant a thing to me; neither did wacko Jacko, the surgically reconstructed baby-dangling friend to all children. It’s those four songs: I Want You Back, ABC, The Love You Save, and I’ll Be There that I remember when I think of Michael, and that sharp, soulful little kid and his brothers on The Ed Sullivan Show and American Bandstand. He’s been gone a long time.

Far more important to me is Psych/Garage Punk titan Sky Saxon, who, in one of those weird Rock coincidences, died the same day as MJ. The Secret Museum will prepare a full appreciation in the upcoming weeks.

One of our readers asks: But is it really Grand Funk Railroad without Mark Farner?

No. In order to make claim to the original name, even if you legally own the right, like that piggish opportunist from the Guess Who, Secret Museum rules
dictate that you must have a minimum of one irreplaceable member/extremely important person (Don Brewer does not qualify- even though he wrote and sang their biggest hit, and is definitely an important component to the band, he's not THE guy; plus, he’s a drummer) and (with rare exceptions) one original deputy/up-there-but-not-essential member (Brewer does qualify for this, as does bassist Mel Schacher.) If Brewer left and Farner returned, we'd have us a Grand Funk Railroad. If Brewer and Schacher remain, AND Craig Frost returns, AND Mark Farner's son joins on guitar and vocal, it's still not Grand Funk Railroad (see Blue Oyster Cult for evidence of how this is supposed to work.)

To expound further, let’s look at the Stones. In my opinion, there are four sets of Rolling Stones:

Stones with Brian
Stones with Mick Taylor
Stones with Ronnie Wood (up until Bill Wyman left)
Post-Wyman Stones

I prefer the first version, approve of the second, and tolerate the third. And while I agree with Bob Dylan that the Stones without Bill are a funk band, I’ll concede that they’re still the Rolling Stones. Take away Charlie, Keith or Jagger, however, and you’ve got a different band entirely.

Same goes for Led Zeppelin. I would trade Robert Plant for Terry Reid any day, but without Bonzo, there’s no Zep. No Page, no Zep. No Jones, no Zep. Instead you’d have the New Yardbirds.

The Beatles equals John and Paul. Pete Best is proof that you don’t need Ringo. So’s Paul. George was a fab SOLO artist while IN the group, but not essential TO the group.

Fairport Convention could survive Sandy Denny’s departure, but after Richard Thompson left, so went Fairport Convention. Were he to return now, it’s still only barely Fairport. They would really need Ashley Hutchings to seal the deal. And Simon Nicol has to be there.

Reader: But what about Herman’s Hermits?

Good question. Don’t be fooled by Peter Noone. As we all know, Leck Leckenby is no longer with us. Therefore, Keith Hopwood is required to be on the stage in order for Noone to call it Herman’s Hermits.

The Kinks are Ray and Dave AND Mick.

There are three Secret Museum-recognized Fleetwood Macs:
1. Peter Green version
2. Post-Green, pre-Buckingham/Nicks variants
3. Buckingham/Nicks version.
Everything else is fraudulent.

Jefferson Airplane would require Grace, Marty, Paul, Jorma and Jack. It doesn’t matter who plays drums.

Wire: three out of four original members doesn’t work. I wish it did.

(As Jim reminds me) The Fall: one original member. Mark E. Smith said, “If it’s me and your gran on bongos, it’s a Fall gig.” Absolutely.

Sex Pistols: four out of four equals zero.

The Who hasn’t existed since 1978.

No Yes without Anderson, Squire and Howe.

Here are some acts soon to appear locally, grouped by authenticity-


Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
Cowboy Junkies
Mighty Diamonds (all original members since 1969!)
Earth Wind & Fire
Motley Crue
Judas Priest
Heaven and Hell (this is how it should be done)
Los Lobos
Cheap Trick
Def Leppard


Asleep At The Wheel
Chicago (RIP Terry Kath)
The Spinners


Grand Funk Railroad
English Beat
Sha Na Na
Lynyrd Skynyrd
James Taylor

PS- Is that William Topley I see returning to Taos? Haven’t we suffered enough? Hello, Upper Colonias!

-Michael Mooney

Jim Webb wrote:

Mike –

On July 9, 1971 Grand Funk Railroad played to a crowd of over 55,000 at Shea Stadium in New York, selling out all tickets faster than The Beatles did in 1965. Everyone remembers Beatle mania, but not many will recall that Grand Funk Railroad dominated the LP charts in 1970. They were known as the first popular “people’s hard rock band”, setting the table for later 70’s groups like AC/DC, and fellow Michigan native Ted Nugent’s solo success. 2009 marks the fortieth anniversary of Grand Funk Railroad and they are appearing at Taos Mountain on July 10 as part of a biker festival. Sadly original lead vocalist/guitarist Mark Farner is not in the band, that’s like going to see The Rolling Stones without old big lips Jagger at the mike stand, or having a Tull concert without Ian Anderson - it just ain’t right. The current group of Grand Funksters deserves to make a living; I’d just like to know how Farner lost control of the band’s name (and reputation). Let’s blame their first manager Terry Knight who could’ve cheated the musicians out of their own name for God’s sake. Speaking of God, Farner found Jesus a while back and released some Christian recordings in the nineties. That shouldn’t have surprised any body; way back in 1970 Mark wrote a song called Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother. How he went from being a teenager in Flint, Michigan to shakin’ his ass and singing the devil’s music in front of 180,000 people at the Atlanta Pop Festival in 1969 – and winding up singing for Christ is one of those great journeys that make us all proud to be born in America where anything can happen.

Mike, could you please fill in for the people who do want to go- who the hell are currently in this band? Keeping track of all the roadies and ex- Kiss members who are now plugging in onstage gives me a head ache. I can’t go and be a part of this madness, I’ll stay behind and hope Farner turns up with his own band one day at Camel Rock Casino, and then we can listen to some righteous foot-stompin’ music from Grand Funk Railroad’s real main man.
-Jim Webb

Michael Mooney wrote:

This is what dares to call itself Grand Funk Railroad:
Farner fill-ins:
Bogus Kiss member Bruce Kulick on guitar, and
journeyman vocalist Max Carl (who’s actually pretty good, so what’s he doing here?)
In the “Craig Frost” position: Tim Cashion
Why can’t they take a hint from Heaven and Hell??
-Michael Mooney

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