On Time is Grand Funk Railroad’s first studio album, released in August 1969 by Capitol Records. It was produced by Terry Knight.
“Time Machine”, the band’s first single release, barely broke the top 50 in the singles charts, reaching #48, however, after the success of their second album Grand Funk (aka The Red Album), On Time went gold shortly thereafter in 1970, one of four RIAA gold record awards for the band that year. The other two albums reaching gold status in 1970 for GFR were Closer to Home and Live Album.
Grand Funk Railroad’s 1969 debut is a wildly uneven affair. Although the exuberant energy and power-trio theatrics that would fuel their 1970s hits are in place, the group’s songwriting and arranging abilities are very much in their infancy. The biggest problems in terms of songwriting are the often-amateurish lyrics: “Anybody’s Answer” is a sincere but muddled attempt at a message song that expends a lot of energy without ever focusing on a particular target and “Heartbreaker” is a love lament that is content to trot out a series of well-worn heartbreak clichés. In terms of arrangements, the band often places an aimless jam where a tight instrumental break should be.
The standout example of this problem is “TNUC,” a loose-limbed tune that wears out its welcome with an overlong and unstructured drum solo. Despite these problems, there are some strong tunes in the mix: “Are You Ready” is an exuberant rocker built on one of Mel Schacher’s trademark walking basslines and “Into the Sun” is a clever tune that starts as a mellow mid-tempo jam before blossoming into a stomping rocker with a funky guitar riff. Both of these sturdy tunes appropriately became mainstays of Grand Funk Railroad’s live show for many years to come. “Time Machine” is another highlight, a bluesy shuffle built on Mark Farner’s wailing vocals and a catchy, stuttered guitar riff. All in all, On Time is way too patchy of an album to please the casual listener but provides a few hints of and contains enough worthwhile moments to please the group’s fans. (by Donald A. Guarisco)
Don Brewer (drums, vocals)
Mark Farner (guitar, piano, harmonica, vocals)
Mel Schacher (bass)
01. Are You Ready 3.28
02. Anybody’s Answer 5.17
03. Time Machine 3.45
04. High On A Horse 2.56
05. T.N.U.C. 8.42
06. Into The Sun 6.29
08. Call Yourself A Man 3.05
09. Can’t Be Too Long 6.34
10. Ups And Downs 5.01
All songs written by Mark Farner