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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2004
Let's be honest--is it ever fair to pan anyone's first album? Believe me, I've heard much worse debut albums than this one. Most bands are just trying to find their "sound" on their first album. I believe GFR discovered their sound from their very first rehearsals.

If there is anything to be criticised here, its only on the production side of things. When Rolling Stone magazine gave their first official scathing review of GFR's music, probably the only thing they got right was, "the drumming guaranteed to send you up the wall!" But that's only because on a lot of the songs here, the loudest thing you CAN hear is Don Brewer's drums. I read where Mark Farner complained that his guitar didn't come out loud enough on this album--which, when he switched on the fuzztone, as he did on "Anybody's Answer", "Can't Be Too Long" and toward the end of "Heartbreaker", could have easily rivaled that of Tony Iommi and Leslie West in terms of loudness, had only production levels been more in the "red". And Mel Schacher, the loudest bass player in the world--where was he? His bass can barely be heard on this album, as if it had hardly been plugged in at all! At any rate, manager/producer Terry Knight and engineer Ken Hamann turned things around sharply for the better on the next album, putting the guitar and bass out front, and the drums in it's rightful, lowly place in the back of the mix, and then putting all the levels in the "red"--hence, the "red" album.

But forget about production for a minute--how about the music. Let's take this one at a time. Rolling Stone called this album, "one-dimensional". Hardly! I've heard one-dimensional albums, and this is certainly not one. However, that's not to say that all "one-dimensional" albums are bad--Boston's debut is "one-dimensional". Being "one-dimesnional", or saying all the songs sound the same, just means you have your own "sound". GFR had its own sound, but injected it's sound into different kinds of music, such as the jazzy-"T.N.U.C.", the bluesy-"Time Machine", and the proto-power ballad, "Heartbreaker". GFR, much like Led Zeppelin, was very good at musical arrangements, timing, and tempo changes for such a young group, and knowing when to go from light-to heavy-and back to light, such as on "Anybody's Answer" and "Can't Be Too Long"--much as Led Zeppelin on a song like "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You".

"Unmusical" is another word for this album that Rolling Stone Mag used to describe. "Unmusical" is what a lot of the music is today, like Pantera and Metallica. Describing this album as "unmusical" is not even listening to this album, and denying everything I just said about it. If this was considered "heavy metal" for its time, its a whole lot more melodic, muscial, and listenable than what is called "heavy metal" today. It's only when Mark Farner slices through "Anybody's Answer", "Can't Be Too Long", and "Heartbreaker" with his chainsaw-sounding fuzz guitar that the band even reaches what I consider, "metallic proportions".

On the vocal harmony end of things, this is probably their best album in terms of overdubbing Mark and Don's voices to sound almost ethereal and frightening! If you like Vanilla Fudge or Uriah Heep for the vocal harmonies, you might like some of what you hear on this album. Overdubbing Mark's lead and rhythm guitars also comes out sounding great, and even adds a little drama, to songs like "T.N.U.C", "Into The Sun", and "Can't Be Too Long". And if there was anything that was most certainly not one-dimensional here, it was Mark Farner's guitar playing. Remember, this was a guy who had only learned to play "solos" a year before, and he only got even better with time. But I think his guitar playing, his phrasing and soloing, was spectacular all through this album--too bad production couldn't make it come out louder! But just because he wasn't quite on the level of a Jimmy Page or a Jimi Hendrix didn't make him a bad guitar player, or "one-dimensional", for that matter. He forged his own style, playing almost-Page style leads, and almost-Hendrix style rhythms.

Another high mark GFR gets for this album is originality. For a debut album to have ALL original music, and no covers, is quite an accomplishment, in and of, itself, and something I respect very highly. Mark wrote his own stuff for the group, and continued to do so for two more albums. The only other thing they did was re-arrange old songs from their previous group, The Pack, and make new songs out of them, much like Jimmy Page re-arranged old-Yardbird songs and riffs for Led Zeppelin. However, I still would have liked to hear a guitar-driven, GFR version of an old soul number, like "Land of 1,000 Dances", or "In the Midnight Hour", as I know they performed live on tour back in '69--It's only too bad Capitol records couldn't find a bootleg recording somewhere of them performing those two songs, when they re-mastered this disc to add bonus tracks. I think hearing them play, "Land of 1,000 Dances", would sound as unique as hearing Led Zeppelin play the old Motown-number, "We're Gonna Groove", and would have made this disc much more worthwhile, than adding an alternate-version of "Heartbreaker" with a tamborine! (By the way, who was playing that tamborine, anyway--Terry Knight?)

So contrary to what Rolling Stone mag said about this album back in '69, I consider this album very musical, multi-dimensional, and very listenable. But the drumming does send you up the wall, and that's only because production wasn't as balanced as it could have been. The album cover could have been a little-less cheesy--Grand Funk Railroad playing with "model trains"! In a way, it does sort of model itself after Cream's first album cover--with the black backdrop, and three guys in theme-oriented costumes. Production does get high marks for knowing when to use the speaker-to-speaker effects and the overdubbing--it's how Blue Cheer and The Stooges albums should have been done! But the balance of the bass-drums-guitar was severely out-of-whack, and as I said earlier, would be very much corrected for the next album--some might say, "over"-corrected. But that's just "Mr. Type-A" personality, Terry Knight, going from one extreme to the other. Overall, a great album, musically--probably one of the best of the 1960s, right at the end of the decade, but a "not-so-good" Knight production.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 28, 2002
This was THE GRAND FUNK RAILROAD in all their raw, nasty, sexual, high energy, Live sounding Power Trio madness. This is a Great debut Album and ranks out there with the great's of the 70s like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. This album was recorded live and one the only overdubs are putting some rhythm guitar where the leads are. It was recorded in one week and that shows, and yet adds to the charm of this sledge hammer album. This was what GFR was all about, Mel Schacher Playing his BOOMING BASS behind the note. Don Brewer Playing his POUNDING DRUMS ahead of the Note and Mark Farner playing his wild rhythms and screeching leads on GUITAR anywhere; before, after, or in the middle of the note. Don and Mark do great Harmonies and both are excellent lead singers. That magic gave GFR a special sound all to there own, It can't be faked or copied, its something natural to the three musicians. This album along with Live, Red Album (Grand Funk), and Closer To Home, captured millions of fans for GFR who still reminisce about these albums to this day. This edition of On Time is a 24 bit remastered masterpiece of rock n roll from cover to cover. Capitol They Hired David Tedds (A Huge GFR Fan) to head the project and he did a wonderful job. The remastering is wonderful the (Bong Rattling) bass of Mel Schacher is right in your face the whole set, Mark Farner's Guitar is crisp and clean Don Brewer's (competent) drums are clear as a bell and the (wild shirtless) Vocals of Mark and Don are all clear and fantastic. (Parentheses from Homer Simpson). The songs are; Are you ready, Anybody's Answer, Time Machine, High On A Horse, T.N.U.C., Into The Sun, Heartbreaker, Call Yourself A Man, Can't Be Too Long, Ups and Downs all rock and this CD includes new liner notes and Photo's as well as bonus tracks. The Bonus tracks are The original versions of Heartbreaker and High On A Horse, both are very cool. This is a must have CD for every GFR fan and Every fan of Hard Rock.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2004
GFR's first release goes to show you that sometimes music critics don't know jack about music! This is a good debut filled with power and passion that many other rock bands could only dream of doing after even ten albums! Anyway rock was never supposed to be pretty and clean but raw and dirty and GFR delivers with On Time. So go back to a time when rock was revolutionary and artist still had passion for their music and get this CD before your rock n' roll tastes are contaminated from the crap that is coming out today. Play it loud baby!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2003
In the spring of 1969, mankind was thrice blessed by rock and roll: Led Zeppelin cut their first album, the Beatles released their magnificent and breathtaking swan song "Abbey Road" (one of the greatest things ever recorded), and in Flint, Michigan, a band formerly known as Terry Knight and the Pack signed a contract with Capitol Records and released their first album under their new name: Grand Funk Railroad. The album was "On Time," a tour-de-force of hard rock, blues, and soul. I really don't know what else I could say about this album that would begin to do it justice, but I will try.
-People accuse Grand Funk Railroad of being a shallow group. I defend them by saying that as far as 1969 was concerned, this music was heavy, a heaviness only rivaled by British groups like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Mark Farner's guitar is many different voices: one moment it sings, the next moment it cries, the next in shouts in anger or joy (sometimes both). Critics seem to forget that Farner was playing both the lead and rhythm guitars on this album, which meant that he had to lay down tracks which were then overdubbed when the whole band played together. The overdubbing on this album is outstanding, especially when Farner also plays the piano and harmonica on Side 1.
-As far as Grand Funk Railroad albums go, the musical diversity is pretty damn good. Some songs have a splash of funk and R&B (Call Yourself a Man), others are classic twelve bar blues with a kick (Time Machine), others put a hard rock spin on meaningful folk lyrics (Anybody's Answer, Can't Be Too Long). The centerpiece however would have to be TNUC (it doesn't make much sense unless you spell it backwards), an eight and a half minute jam session that reaches an overwhelming crescendo of hot, tasty guitar licks, throbbing bass notes, and raw, savage drums. Folks, this is what rock is all about! The "jam session" idea was something very prevalent in Grand Funk's early work (they carried it over to The Red Album on songs like In Need), but on their debut album, they did it best!
-And speaking of TNUC, critics have also accused drummer Don Brewer of being an average musician. Well, do people ever criticize James Brown's drummer, or Jimi Hendrix's drummer? No. Some drummers just keep the rhythm, and Don Brewer is one of them. But that doesn't mean that he does not bring energy to rhythm. Critics better listen to "Ups and Downs" or "Into the Sun" again. Brewer's drumming might be the best thing about this album (which could be why he's the only one standing on the cover; he's wearing the red vest and holding the giant pocket watch). Besides, those who doubt his ability need only listen to TNUC: the main body of the song is a five minute drum solo that is actually good to listen to. Brewer beats those things senseless, and he keeps it up so long, his stamina is legendary!
Stylistically, the band was still evolving. But they actually knew what people wanted to hear, and they delivered. Unlike the modern music industry, where bands record what fat cats tell them to, Grand Funk Railroad recorded music from the heart. If you want to hear the band at their most savage and unrefined, then get "On Time." This album is so pure that it hurts!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 29, 2003
Great hard rock and roll from Grand Funk Railroad!!! This debut from the Funk is their best!!! Lots of their signature tunes are here including Time Machine, Heartbreaker and T.N.U.C. Great from start to finish!!! A+
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2008
I have every Grand Funk Railroad ever produced but I never liked this one from the day it was first released. Anyway, to keep my collection complete I finally ordered it. It blew me away. I have listened to it at least 10 times. I wonder where my head was back in 1971 when I first heard this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2003
Grand Funk Railroad's debut album could have been titled "Rock & Roll in 10 Easy Steps". They took the basic formula - Marshall stacks, fuzz boxes, and power chords - and created something completely new. The rhythym section of Don Brewer(drums) and Mel Schacher(bass), possibly one of the greatest in heavy rock's history, provided the perfect balance to Mark Farner's wailing vocals and dirty guitar tones. Each band member gets to show off their talents, most notably Brewer's must-be-heard-to-believe drum solo on "T.N.U.C." With their memorable debut at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1968, GFR established themselves as one of the first members of the Heavy Metal family, and "On Time" (along with their next two studio albums and double-length live lp) serves as proof to that point.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2008
Although never given their props, GFR in the beginning was better than Led Zeppelin. This especially carried through the release of their second album (The RED album)which I consider their best. They were a great band until they turned to the commercial side of things turning out 45 style singles. And today, as it's been over the last 20 years, the only thing you ever hear on the radio is "Loco-motion" and "We're An American Band". Great songs, but not the original sound. This album is as raw as it gets and can truly be called "Hard Rock". WHY ISN'T THIS BAND IN THE ROCK 'N ROLL HALL OF FAME, but the O'Jays are?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2010
Many years ago my apt. in Manhattan got broken into and the thief or thieves had impeccable taste in music.
They had about 9 hours to hand select what they took. ON TIME was one of 152 albums they stole, all of which
has taken me almost 40 years to replace on one format or another.

In closing, let me say that Mark and boys sound as good now as they did then..... Thank You for making this
rather obscure recording available once again...

Jonny G
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2012
The cd is not bad for a first recording. I really like most of the songs. The one I hate is UPS AND DOWNS. It just sounds like an experiment gone wrong! Way wrong! Their next two albums were far superior but I still love "Are you Ready" and "Into The Sun!" I also really love TNUC. Especially when you spell it backwards!
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