Grand Funk Railroad – We’re an American Band

Few rock anthems received more airplay during the 70s (and, for that matter, in the 80s) than “We’re an American Band.” The song remains a classic-rock radio staple. As one of Todd Rundgren’s earliest production efforts, this Grand Funk Railroad record has less of the signature Todd “sound” than his later attempts, but that’s a debate for internet forums.

Comparing Friday Music’s We’re an American Band to an early stamper yellow original pressing amounts to a dead heat. The yellow vinyl original still has the edge in top-end smoothness as well as more low-level detail. The discrepancy in smoothness is most evident on Side One’s “Creepin’.” On the original, the high hat rather effortlessly fades into oblivion, while the effect on the new orange pressing (not yellow when you do a side-by-side comparison) is slightly grainy. Similarly, the reissue’s dynamics fall slightly short; when the train roars across the soundstage on “The Railroad,” it doesn’t as forcefully jump out of the speakers. But the Friday LP receives the nod as you get closer to the center of the record; inner-groove distortion is definitely higher on the original.

It also appears that the Friday version is cut at a slightly lower level than the original, always a good thing. Moreover, the amount of tape hiss in the presentation convinces me that Friday utilized the actual master tape, just as advertised. However, while the pressing is quiet and the jacket printed on decent stock, it’s unfortunate that the cool red and blue “We’re an American Band” stickers aren’t included; they would’ve been a nice touch.

If you have a mint original of We’re an American Band, there’s no reason to buy another copy. But if this LP is one of your favorite rock records and your original is not up to snuff, or you happen to be starting over with vinyl, forget those black vinyl copies in your used record store. Friday’s orange edition is a worthy addition.  —Jeff Dorgay

Friday Music, 180g LP