“E pluribus unum,” Latin for “out of many, one,” is a motto on the Grand Seal of the United States, the seal that is used to authenticate documents by the US government. But on 15 November 1971, that phrase was adapted into the language of one of America’s biggest rock bands, as Grand Funk Railroad released their fifth studio album, E Pluribus Funk.
By this stage in their career, Grand Funk were producing platinum-selling albums for fun, and at an incredibly productive rate. Their fourth LP Survival had been released only seven months earlier, and took just two weeks to go gold, later moving to platinum. The Michigan band’s two albums before that are now both platinum, and ‘E Pluribus Funk’ wasn’t about to see them lose their magic touch.
The album, overseen in the studio as usual by manager-producer Terry Knight, was of its times in combining straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll with message songs. Written entirely by frontman Mark Farner, it combined tracks like ‘Footstompin’ Music’ (its most successful single, reaching No. 29) and ‘Upsetter’ with protest comments such as ‘People, Let’s Stop The War’ and ‘Save The Land.’
When E Pluribus Funk was released, it too only needed two weeks to turn gold. It debuted on the Billboard 200 at No. 40, in the week that it was picked by the magazine in its “Action Records” section, along with Alice Cooper’s Killer album. A week later, it was No. 10, and peaked at No. 5. When Billboard reviewed ‘Footstompin’ Music’ as a single, it described the track as a “solid discotheque winner for jukeboxes and top 40.”
Grand Funk marked the album release with their second tour of Europe, beginning in early December in Copenhagen; the ten-date itinerary included the first live rock show to be staged at the Palais de Sport in Lyon. Pluribus was eventually certified platinum by the RIAA in 1991.
E Pluribus Funk can be bought here.
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