Grand Funk Railroad frontman Mark Farner is back with a new video and single, along with a strategy to make them both work in continuing a legendary career that as in the case of most heritage artists, isn’t what it once was.
The singer-guitarist of the band that sold more albums than any American group in 1970 and famously sold out Shea Stadium in 72 hours the following year, Farner has just issued “Take You Out,” produced in Boston by Anthony J. “Ajax” Resta.
“My purpose for the song is to compel men to get out on the dance floor!” says Farner, who wrote the tune. “Ninety percent of the guys are out there watching girls dancing with girls, and we’ve got to get past that. Girls like to see men dance. I know that from my shows, and that’s what I’d like to see—men come out on the dance floor.”
Available digitially, “Take You Out” is Farner’s first release since his For The People album of 2006. The video for the single is his first ever. Directed by metal band drummer John Gillis, it features band performance footage shot in Atlantic City mixed with Farner playing solo in the woods near his northern Michigan home.
Farner, though, was in New York last week to promote “Take You Out” to radio.
“It’s like going back to 1962,” says Jim Della Croce, Farner’s agent. “You invest in a great single, on an indie label like Laurie or Buddha back then, and you go promote it to radio stations, or in our case now, radio syndicators. That way, with one interview, you save on air fare and hotel expenses and reach hundreds of cities at once.”
You also make a video as “an electronic sales vehicle to radio, media and talent buyers, to generate radio and video airplay, publicity and live performances, and then let the public vote.”
At classic rock station Q104 in New York, which is also available via Internet radio platform iHeartRadio and where Farner guested on the Jim Kerr Rock & Roll Morning Show, returns from the public came in quickly.
“It was an overwhelming response,” says Della Croce. “The phones lit up and really validated the effort.”
It also re-established the former Farner/Grand Funk stronghold.
“I love New York,” says Farner, looking back at the Shea show and the famous block-long Grand Funk Railroad billboard that graced Times Square for three months also in 1971. “What happened here made our band.”
Farner will be on next year’s Happy Together Tour fronted by The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie and also including Chuck Negron, Gary Lewis and fellow Michigander Mitch Ryder. He plays with Ryder and Dave Mason in a band led by Bob Seger saxophonist Alto Reed, and also fields his own band made up of drums, bass and keys in addition to his guitar and lead vocals.
“Everyone sings, so I get wonderful background vocals on [Grand Funk Railroad hits including] ‘Locomotion’ and ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful,’” says Farner.
[The Examiner wrote the liner notes to Grand Funk Railroad's Thirty Years of Funk: 1969-1999 box set.]
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