Grand Funk Railroad’s sales in America in their first five years of success make for awe-inspiring reading. During that period, from their 1969 debut with On Time to the All The Girls In The World Beware!!! release of late 1974, they released 11 albums, every one of which went at least gold in the US, six of them platinum, and two of those double platinum. It’s one of the great certification sequences in rock history, and on 14 October 1972, they were adding to it, as their sixth album, Phoenix, debuted on the Billboard 200.
Phoenix was the first GFR album not to be produced by Terry Knight, as the band took over studio duties themselves. It was also their last with the full band name before they abbreviated it to Grand Funk. The calling card was the single ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Soul,’ which entered the Hot 100 three weeks earlier and climbed to No. 29; the album reached No. 7 and went gold.
The new LP featured a guest appearance by Louisiana-born fiddle player Doug Kershaw, who would later play with the Rolling Stones on their Some Girls tour of 1978. The album also marked the debut as a Grand Funk member of keyboard player Craig Frost, who went on to join Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band.
Billboard, reviewing Phoenix in the week before it charted, alongside Humble Pie’s Lost and Found and the Yes album Close To The Edge, observed: “Grand Funk have by now attained an almost permanent place in rock’s hierarchy. They have legions of devoted, ready followers at every performance and lining up to buy their every album.
“Disapppointing no one and perhaps surprising a few is the musical intelligence is the actual musical intelligence that is apparent on most of this album. Utilisation of the wizardry of Doug Kershaw is an unexpected delight. Single ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Soul’ included.”
Purchase Phoenix here.