This Grand Funk Railroad concert recording from Detroit, Chicago, and Shea Stadium on the band's enormously successful 1971 tour captures them in all their mega-stadium excess. Extended beyond the breaking point versions of "T.N.U.C." (nearly 18 minutes), "Inside Looking Out" (over 15 minutes, including a pro-pot intro), ten minutes of "Into the Sun," and nine minutes of what has to be the most plodding version of the Stones
' "Gimme Shelter" ever recorded for better or worse portray this trio in all their over-the-top glory. In concert, the least funky band ever to have the word "funk" in their name pounded out tough, workingman rock with as little subtlety as possible, aiming to please the fan sitting in the last row of the stadium. While that may have made for an invigorating concert experience, having to endure this music without the live stage show as distraction is a headache-inducing chore. The sound, while acceptable for 1971 standards, is still brittle and harsh, and Mark Farner
's wah-wah-heavy guitar is exactly what Spinal Tap
had envisioned with their amps that went to 11. Since this was recorded in the band's earliest period, none of the more pop elements that gave them the hits that softened their sound are in the set. That leaves this as the definitive live document of these years. It's not nearly as listenable or eclectic as 1975's Caught in the Act
, which they recorded as a quartet, but does depict the group in all its uncut power, glory, and volume. Brash, noisy, and abrasive, Grand Funk Railroad
earned their money by giving the people what they wanted in a show full of raw energy and blistering hard rock. In retrospect, its appeal is limited, but if you were there, you'll appreciate this souvenir. If not, after hearing this warts-and-all recording, you may wonder what all the excitement was about.