Mark Farner Band – No Frills (1978)

FrontCover1Mark Fredrick Farner (born September 29, 1948) is an American singer, guitarist and songwriter, best known as the lead singer and lead guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad, and later as a contemporary Christian musician.

Farner began his career in music by playing in Terry Knight and The Pack (1965–1966), The Bossmen (1966–1967), The Pack (aka The Fabulous Pack) (1967–1968), before forming Grand Funk Railroad with Don Brewer (drums) and Mel Schacher (bass guitar) in 1969. Craig Frost (keyboards) joined the band in 1972. Farner has Cherokee ancestry from his maternal side.

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Farner was the guitarist and lead singer for Grand Funk Railroad as well as the songwriter for most of their material. His best-known composition is the 1970 epic “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home)”. He also wrote the 1975 hit “Bad Time”, the last of the band’s four singles to make the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

After Grand Funk initially disbanded in 1976, Farner released his self-titled debut solo album in 1977, and his second, No Frills, in 1978 (both Atlantic Records). In 1981, Farner and Don Brewer launched a new Grand Funk line-up with bassist Dennis Bellinger and recorded two albums, Grand Funk Lives and What’s Funk?[citation needed] Farner went solo again with 1988’s Just Another Injustice on Frontline Records.

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His third Frontline release was 1991’s Some Kind of Wonderful, which featured a revamped Jesus version of the Grand Funk classic of the same name. Farner became a born again Christian in the late 1980s and enjoyed success with the John Beland composition “Isn’t it Amazing”, which earned him a Dove Award nomination and reached No. 2 on the Contemporary Christian music charts.

In the 1990s, Farner formed Lismark Communications with former Freedom Reader editor Steve Lisuk. Soon after, Farner began reissuing his solo albums on his own record label, LisMark Records.

From 1994 to 1995, Farner toured with Ringo Starr’s Allstars, which also featured Randy Bachman, John Entwistle, Felix Cavaliere, Billy Preston, and Starr’s son, Zak Starkey.

In the late 1990s, Farner reunited with Grand Funk, but left after three years to resume his solo career. He currently tours with his band, Mark Farner’s American Band, which plays a mixture of Grand Funk songs and Farner’s solo offerings.

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Farner had a pacemaker installed October 22, 2012, having struggled with heart troubles for the previous eight years.

Mark Farner was voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 2015. He had previously been inducted as a member of both Grand Funk Railroad and Terry Knight & The Pack.

Farner was honored with the Lakota Sioux Elders Honor Mark in 1999. During the concert in Hankinson, North Dakota, a special presentation was held honoring Mark’s Native ancestry and his contributions. Members of the Lakota Nation presented him with a hand-made ceremonial quilt. He has also been honored with the Cherokee Medal of Honor by the Cherokee Honor Society.

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An authorized biography of Farner, entitled From Grand Funk to Grace, was published in 2001.

This section appears to contain trivial, minor, or unrelated references to popular culture. Please reorganize this content to explain the subject’s impact on popular culture, providing citations to reliable, secondary sources, rather than simply listing appearances. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2018)

Mark Farner is mentioned by Homer Simpson in The Simpsons episode, “Homerpalooza”, in season 7, episode 24 of the series. As Homer drives his children and their friends to school, Grand Funk is on the car radio. The children do not like it and ask him to change the station when he responds, “you kids don’t know Grand Funk? The wild, shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner. The bong-rattling bass of Mel Schacher. The competent drum work of Don Brewer?”

Mark Farner was mentioned in episode 9 of season 8 of the HBO comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm in September 2011. (wikipedia)

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And here´s his second solo-album after leaving Grand Funk Railroad:

Grand Funk Railroad’s most potent and primal recordings (such as Closer to Home and their 1970 live album) were cut as a power trio, and even their more polished later work on We’re an American Band and Shinin’ On only added a keyboard player to the mix, so when GFR guitarist and singer Mark Farner went into the studio to cut his second solo album in 1978, the LP’s title summed up the approach: No Frills. Producer Jimmy Iovine set Farner up with a good rhythm section (bassist Dennis Bellinger and drummer Andy Newmark), took them into the studio and rolled tape. What could go wrong? Well, Farner’s songwriting chops weren’t what they once were, and while he could pen a worthy mass of power chords earlier in his career, the mixture of pop, soul, and hard rock that informs most of these tunes lack the clarity and force of his best work.

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The lyrics aren’t especially inspired, either, though “If It Took All Day” is at least funny and “He Sent Me You” anticipates the tone of his later Christian recordings. The lack of musical focus also impacts Farner’s guitar work, which doesn’t approach the full-bodied grit of Grand Funk’s glory days (and who told the guy to go crazy with the flanger, anyway?). Bellinger and Newmark play just fine, but it’s clear they don’t have quite the same empathy for this music as Mel Schacher and Don Brewer, and the engineering is too slick and doesn’t have the muscle to give this the loud and proud punch it needs. No Frills may have been a good philosophy for Mark Farner, but he needed a bit more than that to make an album worthy of his hard rock legacy. (by Mark Deming)

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Personnel:
Dennis Bellinger (bass, background vocals)
Mark Farner (guitar, vocals, clavinet, piano)
Andy Newmark (drums)
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Karen Lawrence (background vocals on 06.)

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Tracklist:
01. He Sent Me You (Farner) 3.17
02. If It Took All Day (Farner) 3.14
03. When A Man Loves A Woman (Wright/Lewis) 3.46
04. Faith Keeps It Away (Farner) 4.49
05. Crystal Eyes (Farner) 3.56
06. Just One Look (Payne/Carroll) 2.47
07. All The Love You Give Me (Farner) 4.49
08. Cool Water (Farner) 3.16
09. Without You (Farner) 2.07

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The official website:
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Various Artists – A Classic Rock Salute To The Doors – Light My Fire (2014)

FrontCover1.jpgSouthern California-based Purple Pyramid Records and producer, instrumentalist Billy Sherwood raised the bar with this tribute to The Doors by convening a star-studded cast, featuring classic rockers performing with progressive rock luminaries. And the jazz contingent is onboard, evidenced by jazz guitar great Larry Coryell appearing with Focus keyboardist Thijs Van Leer on “Love Me Two Times.”

When I first broke the seal on this recording and perused the personnel listing I was delighted yet partly suspicious, fearing this would be an unbalanced project and/or a riffing contest framed on The Doors songbook. Such is not the case. Thus, Todd Rundgren performing alongside Captain Beeheart Magic Band guitarist Zoot Horn Rollo and Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes signify one of many rather unlikely, yet markedly productive and enticing state of affairs. It’s a varied set, where all the vocalists retain their signature chops and modus operandi. Although one unremitting factor is centered on their penchant for extracting the force-field of The Doors’ vocalist Jim Morrison’s commanding delivery.

The production’s stunning sound quality yields additional bonus points and should warm the hearts of audiophiles. Ultimately, each rendition of The Doors’ songbook is imbued with the musicians’ idiosyncratic niceties amid a plethora of shrewdly placed dynamics, layered keys and guitar shadings. They inject distinct characteristics but don’t sacrifice The Doors’ core song-forms. Hence, disparate musical personalities uncannily attain an accord on many fronts by imparting a sense of ownership and camaraderie, whether or not they were recording tracks in the same studio at the same time.

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It’s easy to discern that Sherwood and associates maximized the talents and style of each artist’s strengths, juxtaposed by strong soloing spots and the obligatory personal touches that many of us would anticipate. Van Leer helps give “Love Me Two Times ” a modern uplift by instilling some good old Hammond-B3 organ style boogie rock, abetted by Coryell’s Texas blues patterns and hard rock phrasings. Moreover, guitar hero Leslie West (Mountain) does what he does best via his emphatically thick vocals, coupled with sinuous slide guitar leads atop Rod Piazza’s harmonica notes, as they punch it out on this husky finger-snapping spin on “Roadhouse Blues.”

Tony Kaye (Yes) uses a synth emulated electric piano sound during “Riders On The Storm” and Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) preludes “People Are Strange” with stride piano clusters and synths alongside time-honored session ace, guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter’s deft acoustic guitar work. Yet rockabilly vocalist Robert Gordon croons through “Touch Me” with the resonance and machismo of Morrison, complemented by pumping rhythms and Nik Turner’s (Hawkwind) swirling sax notes and prog rock keyboard great Jordan Rudess’ spiraling notes. Whereas, Rundgren tenders a pop-ish and clement outlook on The Doors’ swaggering and bluesy torch piece “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar).

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Highlights are thriving components, especially when infamous Yes alumni, guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Rick Wakeman delve into an extended call and response motif, spanning rock, jazz and classical nuances in the bridge section of “Light My Fire.” Here, Ian Gillan provides the antithesis of what we’d expect, considering his high-impact vocals with Deep Purple, as he counterbalances the soloists with a care-free and straightforward rendering of the familiar choruses. Indeed, this tribute endeavor covers all the bases and then some. It’s not to be overlooked. Kudos to the production team for bestowing their rather enlightening plan of attack as it’s quite apparent that a lot of thought prefaced the onset of this astonishing alignment of rock’s past and present rock stars. (by Glen Astarita)

First off readers let me say that I do not like cover bands, cover albums, tribute albums and compilation albums. I have always felt they should be considered a separate genre and that they usually do a disservice to the original composers and bands. After listening to “A Classic Rock Salute To The Doors” though I am rethinking those thoughts. It is hard to cover every song here, there are 16 of their greatest hits, so I will try to give an over view of what I think is important. I will leave the final decision up to you as to how good it really is after you listen to it.

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I was fortunate enough to see ‘The Doors’, 3 times, once at Cobo Hall in Detroit. They were a very unassuming band with almost no equipment. They used no special effects, fireworks, light shows or anything other than themselves, a few instruments and only a couple amps and speakers. The stage was pretty empty even by the standards of the 1960’s. What they lacked in equipment they made up by how tight and cohesive they were as a group when they were all in sync with each other and halfway sober. Jim Morrison usually took all eyes off the other 3 members but make no mistake that without them Jim Morrison would probably have become another undiscovered rock star.

Several of the guests on this album most likely knew ‘The Doors’ back in the day and are by all rights are ‘Superstars’ themselves. More than 42 of rock’s greatest classic ‘Superstars’ showed up to play on this album. That’s a lot of “tribute” to any person or group and shows the love and respect they all had for ‘The Doors’ and their music. By my count there are at least 7 tribute albums out there for ‘The Doors’ but from where I sit this is probably the only one that should matter.

The album starts off with one of my favorites, ‘LA Woman’. From their 6th, album released in 1971, ‘LA Woman’. Jami Jamison, Ted Turner and Patrick Moraz do an admirable job of covering this tune. The guitar work, Ted Turner I am assuming, gives an old favorite a different twist.

I could go into much more detail on more songs off this album but since space is limited I will just give some observations here. This is certainly an album to help introduce anyone who has never heard ‘The Doors’ before to their greatness. After listening to it I guarantee they will hunger for the original music just to hear who these 4 guys, who cut out a slice of rock history for themselves, really were.

Booklet

The guitar work on every song is clean, precise and shredded, something that Robby Kriegers “fingerstyle” guitar playing did not allow him to do. Not that Robby Krieger wasn’t great, he was just not as technical since “fingerstyle“ playing is better suited to Flamenco and Folk Music. It’s probably the most notable difference in all of the tunes here.

Conspicuous by its absence here though is ‘The Unknown Soldier’ which could have easily replaced the version of ‘People Are Strange’ with David Johansen and Billy Sherwood. This is the only song I really felt did not belong among the 16 cuts on this album.

The closing song is my all time favorite and appropriately is, ‘The End’, featuring Pat Travers and Jimmy Greenspoon. Listening to this version gave me goose bumps and almost brought tears to my eyes. The depth is so different but not nearly as dark as the original. I think you’ll find yourself listening to it over and over again! (Mike Langford)

One of the finest tribute albums ever !

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Personnel:

Jimi Jamison: vocals (1); Patrick Moraz: keyboards (1); Ted Turner: guitars (1); Scott Connor: drums (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 16); Billy Sherwood: bass (all tracks), guitar, piano, synths (8), drums, keyboards (12); Lou Gramm: vocals (2); Thijs Van Leer: keyboards (2); Larry Coryell: guitar (2); Leslie West: guitar, vocals (3); Brian Augur: Hammond B-3 organ (3); Rod Piazza: harmonica (3); Mark Stein: vocals, Hammond B-3 organ (4); Mick Box: guitar (4); Joe Lynn Turner: vocals (5); Tony Kaye: Hammond B-3 organ (5); Steve Cropper: guitar (5); Edgar Winter: vocals (6); Chris Spedding: guitar (6); Keith Emerson: acoustic 7 ft. grand piano and original Moog, modular synthesizer (7); Jeff “Skunk” Baxter: acoustic guitar (7); Joel Druckman: acoustic upright bass (7); David Johansen: vocals (8); Robert Gordon: vocals (9); Jordan Rudess: keyboards (9); Steve Morse: guitar (9); Nik Turner: saxophone (9); Adam Hamilton: drums (9); Graham Bonnet: vocals (10); Christopher North: Hammond organ & Leslie (10); Steve Hillage: guitar (10); Ken Hensley: vocals, Hammond B-3 organ (11); Roye Albrighton: guitar (11); Eric Martin: vocals (12); Elliot Easton: lead and Spanish guitars (12); Todd Rundgren: vocals (13); Geoff Downes: keyboards (13); Zoot Horn Rollo: guitars (13); Mark Farner: vocals, guitar (14); Chick Churchill: keyboards (14); Glenn Grossman: drums (14); Ian Gillian: vocal (15); Rick Wakeman: keyboards (15); Steve Howe: guitar (15); Ricky Joyce: drums (15); Pat Travers: vocals, guitar (16); Jimmy Greenspan: keyboards (16).

For details see booklet

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Tracklist:
01. Jimi Jamison, Ted Turner, Patrick Moraz: L.A. Woman 7.28
02. Lou Gramm, Thijs van Leer, Larry Coryell: Love Me Two Times 3.21
03. Leslie West, Brian Auger, Rod Piazza: Roadhouse Blues 4.06
04. Mark Stein, Mick Box: Love Her Madly 3.26
05. Joe Lynn Turner, Tony Kaye, Steve Cropper: Riders On The Storm 6.19
06. Edgar Winter, Chris Spedding: The Crystal Ship 2.44
07. Keith Emerson, Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, Joel Druckman: Intro (People Are Strange) 3.58
08. David Johansen, Billy Sherwood: People Are Strange 2.21
09. Robert Gordon, Jordan Rudess, Steve Morse, Nik Turner: Touch Me 3.49
10. Graham Bonnet, Christopher North, Steve Hillage: The Soft Parade 8.04
11. Ken Hensley, Roye Albrighton: Hello, I Love You 2.39
12. Eric Martin, Elliot Easton: Spanish Caravan 2.54
13. Todd Rundgren, Geoff Downes, Wake: Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) 3.26
14. Mark Farner, Chick Churchill: Break On Through (To the Other Side) 2.51
15. Ian Gillan, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe: Light My Fire 7.00
16. Pat Travers, Jimmy Greenspoon: The End 11.23

All songs written by Jim Morrison – John Densmore – Ray Manzarek – Robby Krieger
except:
06.: written by Jim Morrison &
13.: written by Kurt Weil – Bertolt Brecht

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