MARK FARNER - Mark Farner (1977)
Mark Farner's unmistakable voice and guitar sound are the identifying marks Grand Funk Railroad imprinted on the rock consciousness of the world. His self-titled solo album from 1977 replaces Farner's pop sensibilities with modern blues. Where bands like Foghat and the Groundhogs had a more earthy sound, producer Dick Wagner gives this effort a nice glossy mix of traditional rock and contemporary '70s polish. "Lorraine" dances with Phil Aaberg's Yamaha piano and producer Wagner's acoustic guitar. Wagner performed with Farner in a 1966 band, the Bossmen, before Wagner created the Frost and went on to fame with Lou Reed and Alice Cooper. This recording was released in the middle of Alice Cooper's 1975-1978 hit streak with Wagner, adult contemporary pop which the singer of the Top Five "Bad Time" and number one "Loco-Motion" should have been able to capitalize on. Even harder-edged tunes like "Lucky Lady" could have brightened up FM radio at the time. The guitars on "Ban the Man" do not resonate with the Grand Funk sound; it is Farner all grown up. The album is adult Contemporary modern blues, the guitars rocking hard, but not quite metal. "You and Me Baby" is perhaps the poppiest song on the album, with a catchy riff and uplifting vocal. It is the only song that clocks in under three minutes at 2:51, the other nine tracks all in the three-plus-minute range. Where the 1978 album by ex-Grand Funk members Don Brewer, Mel Schacher, and Craig Frost, Flint on Columbia, suffered from overproduction, Wagner puts Farner in a perfect sound setting for his artistry and the time. Maybe radio would have responded better to a cover song on the record, Farner's version of Doris Troy's "Just One Look" is what was needed here, and its absence is obvious. But tracks like "Dear Miss Lucy" and the very hard-edged latter-day Beach Boys take on "Street Fight" make for a respectable musical statement by a rock legend. Had Grand Funk Railroad released "Easy Breezes," they could have perhaps found new life in a third incarnation. It's inventive and is the high point of a serious solo outing by a man confident in his songwriting abilities. ~ All Music Guide 1.
TRACKS: 01. Dear Miss Lucy 02. Street Fight 03. Easy Breezes 04. Social Disaster 05. He Let Me Love 06. You And Me Baby 07. Second Chance To Dance 08. Lorraine 09. Lady Luck 10. Ban The Man
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