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Insufficient Funk . . .

Posted by: Jon Fine on January 26, 2006

. . Grand Funk, that is.

This week’s column, on the declining fortunes of the mainstream rock band, can be found on newsstands starting tomorrow and right here.

Reader Comments


January 27, 2006 4:22 PM

I just wanna say HOW PROUD I am that someone is finally saying something about this disgusting thing that's happening to music, at least to the really good one.

I'm only 19 but I grew up listening rock & roll (Latin, American and English based rock) and it hurts me to see that there is no place for new stuff in today’s industry.
I'm from Argentina, so I guess you could say I'm a "latina", but still today's music it's either the oh-so common and regularly sound-alike rap/hip-hop, or the reagetton (worst kind of thing that I ever listened to), there's not much more left to choose from.

I wonder if my generation will ever get back the pride of listening to a good rock&roll song, from one of those bands that today are struggling so hard to make it somewhere in the entertainment industry.

I just wanted to say this, and let you know that me (and probably a lot more people) feel proud of seeing that someone talks about this.

I hope it doesn't stop, and maybe people in the music business will realize that rock&roll IS a good business, because once you have a great hit, that song will last forever, unlike a hip-hop or reaggeton songs that will soon be forgotten.

Rocio G.


January 27, 2006 5:11 PM

Sorry, Jon, I'm not buying it. Rock and roll is still a good business for BANDS - it sucks instead for the clueless major labels, who brought all of this on themselves through their short sighted business practices that emphasize quarterly revenue goals over artist development. The reason your beloved Grand Funk was able to sell as many records as they did (CLOSER TO HOME is the only one still worth listening to, IMHO) is that they weren't dropped two seconds after they failed to meet some bean counter's sales projection. Most good bands take at least two albums to really come into their own - the majors are not affording most bands the luxury of growing into their sound, so to speak.

And while we're at it, fuck so-called "modern rock" radio - those stations play the exact same shitty sound-alike bands MTV does. And you can also blame fuckheads like Clear Channel, Bob Sillerman and the consolidation of concert promotion for the inability of mid-level bands to tour arenas - who can afford the ticket price, unless it's an Ozzfest-like package, and even that tour had its worst year ever in 2006 in spite of a stellar lineup?

It's only common sense to say that any band that can attract the interest of any major label can make far more money producing their own product and selling it at shows. Modern recording technology means any garage band can produce a high quality CD, sell it for a reasonable price along with shirts and other merch and be its own boss. Ever hear of Ian MacKaye, Jon?

This business model is infinitely preferable to becoming a slave to some soulless major label, who's going to charge all expenses back to the band anyway, thus insuring that the band will never see a dime from CD sales anyway. The days of the record company as gatekeeper are finally grinding to a halt and not soon enough for me.

Ken Kurson

January 27, 2006 9:27 PM

I would like the author to defend his thesis, namely that Grand Funk is better than I remember. Yes, "I'm Your Captain" is a near masterpiece. But "four young chiquitas in Omaha"? How could that elevate my spirit?

mitch rose

January 29, 2006 8:33 PM

why does every writer refer to music execs as downtrodden weeping at their desks. that is record execs you refer to. as a music exec myself(agent), business for the aging rockers has never been better and im not only talking about arena level bands. the proliferation of performing arts centers, casinos and fairs has enabled the 'heritage' bands of yesteryear not only to survive but to have a lucrative florishing second career. as long as the 'concert experience' cannot be downloaded or recreated, there will always be people who will pay to see their heros, be them freshfaced or grey and aging. Mitch


January 30, 2006 8:49 AM

Hip hop is perfectly suited for ringtone mileage. There is no music there. Its as disposable as the devices that it resides on. It has no dynamic range, musical arrangement, etc. This "musical pornrography" is mostly (yes, there a FEW exceptions) made up of Rap, which is arguably not even music by definition. There is no melody. There is no harmony. The rhythm is supplied by a machine. Like much of our culture its become a very sad affair. None of this lasts beyong its run on the charts. Combine the perversion of music, with the perversion of everything else and what do we have?

John Romano

January 30, 2006 10:10 AM

As a musician and businessman, I must say you need to turn this article into a book. Great writing about the music business.

Check out my music at My partners and I can't for the life of us figure out where to spend money on promotion. And your article illustrates exactly what Rock musicians and labels are up against these days.

John Romano


January 30, 2006 6:06 PM

What's happening to the music business is happening to all media. We are becoming (already have become) a nation of 'tribes'. The era of the blockbuster is dead. Someone please inform Michael Bay.

Jon Fine

January 31, 2006 4:15 PM

If I may, scattershot-like, respond to a bunch of commenters at once:

I disagree that rock is dead, Rocio. The big mainstream rock band as we know it is not as huge commericially as it was, but the explosion of indie labels and other means of getting music out means there's more rock out there now than ever.

John: two words for you. My Space.

Ken: If the cowbell in "We're An American Band" or the ridiculous piano fill in the chorus of "Bad Time" (the one that sounds like somone's playing it with their foot) doesn't convince you, well, I can't help you. (OK, how about this: In Grand Funk's magnum opus about being the biggest rock band in the land--"American Band," natch--what cities do they reference by name in the lyrics? Little Rock and Omaha. I rest my case.)

Paw: No argument that this is a label problem more than a band problem. Indie-level bands can do surprisingly well if they keep control of stuff like t-shirt sales. Grand Funk, who I hereby nominate as the Greatest Terrible Band of All Time, actually hit it big commercially right off the bat, but you're dead-on in saying that major labels don't develop bands anymore. And not only have i heard of Ian MacKaye, I'm proud to report that I still have more hair than he does. (And I think I'm taller than him too.)

Mitch: Yup. Record execs, not music execs.

Aw: I like a lot of hip-hop, and if you're tlaking about lyrics, I don't think it's got a monopoly on "musical pornography. Far from it, in fact.

Thanks, all.


July 18, 2006 10:32 AM

Rap music is a misrepresentation of Hiphop. Before you speaking against it, check out a Hiphop concert Rocio - It's not what you'll hear on the radio.

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