Grand Funk Railroad: Back to Cobo

David Tedds, 46, grew up a teenage AM radio fiend in Redford. He got a copy of Grand Funk’s On Time for Christmas 1969 and later, by a stroke of luck, he found himself in London for Grand Funk’s 1971 Hyde Park concert.

A lifelong obsession was born.

Tedds moved to LA about 20 years ago to work in the record industry. In 1998, he was employed by the Capitol-EMI catalog and marketing division, and his first pet project became Grand Funk.

For Capitol’s GFR remasters, Tedds was keen to include unreleased material from Capitol’s vaults that hadn’t already been used for Thirty Years of Funk. The only problem, as Tedds relates, was that “there wasn’t much! When I looked at the studio logs for each of those first few albums, they did the backing tracks, the vocals, guitar solos, keyboards and anything else, the entire album top-to-bottom in three days. As Don Brewer [GFR drummer] told me, ‘We wrote 10 songs, we recorded 10 songs, and 10 songs came out on the album.’”

For On Time, Grand Funk and Closer to Home, Tedds did unearth a handful of tracks bearing subtle differences from the album versions. Those, Tedds says, were completely remixed from the multi-tracks by Capitol engineering whiz Jimmy Hoyson. “But we didn’t remix the albums themselves,” Tedds quickly adds, anticipating purists’ outcries. “That’s fucking with history. We just remastered the two-track masters for the albums.”

He also included the original demo for “Nothing is the Same,” recorded during the second album’s sessions, which would subsequently be redone on Closer to Home. And since the two-LP Live Album’s running time precluded any additions, Tedds tagged onto Closer to Home three live cuts (“In Need,” “Heartbreaker,” “Mean Mistreater”) recorded during the same string of June ’70 Florida concerts that yielded Live Album’s material.

Speaking of concert recordings, the new Live: The 1971 Tour is a dynamic set that’s sonically superior to its 1970 predecessor. It was originally conceived as a document of the June 9 Shea Stadium gig, which was filmed by David and Albert Maysles (of Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter infamy) for a TV special that was never broadcast. After reviewing the tapes, however, Tedds and the band members agreed that better ’71 recordings were available, particularly the April 29-30 Detroit Cobo Hall shows, which take up nearly an hour of the disc’s 79-minute running time. (Four Shea Stadium numbers made the final cut, as did one from the May 1 Chicago concert.)

Tedds: “Terry Knight had taken the Maysles brothers on the road with them for several weeks prior to Shea Stadium. Apparently those were filmed and recorded [by Kenneth Hamann of Cleveland Recording company] too; they were logged into the Capitol database. Not counting Shea Stadium, there were probably half a dozen shows [in the vault]. There was some good stuff from Shea, but the band was pretty upfront about the fact that, ‘Here we are at Shea Stadium, the audience is half a mile away from us across the infield, we’re playing to 55,000 people, and we’re just overwhelmed. It probably wasn’t the best show we did.’ So I’m listening to some stuff recorded a few weeks prior to that and going, ‘Wow, these Detroit shows just blow away Shea!’”

There you have it, hometown fans. Anybody who was at the Cobo Hall shows feel like throwing in their two cents’ worth?

Please be sure to read our associative cover story Still in a Grand Funk

Fred Mills is a freelance writer. E-mail him at [email protected]
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