Heirlooms: The Complete Atlantic Sessions, 1977-1978 is single CD with all the music from Mark Farner's first two albums without Grand Funk Railroad, both originally released on Atlantic. Credited to the Mark Farner Band on the inside spine and Mark Farner on the outside, there are five photographs of the musician with his wife, Lesia Farner, on the tray card and a six-page booklet that accompanies the package with liner notes by the artist explaining how it all came to be. There are also photos of producer Dick Wagner, bassist Bob Babbitt, and an unnamed engineer from the self-titled first Atlantic disc giving it that family photo album feel. It's interesting hearing the production work of Wagner recorded at Farner's studio The Swamp and completed at Nimbus Nine in Toronto, Canada, back to back with No Frills producer Jimmy Iovine's work from The Record Plant in New York. Both world-class producers do as the second album title states: they record Mark Farner solo with "no frills," and the sound is remarkably consistent. The embellishments that Todd Rundgren and Jimmy Ienner added to Grand Funk are not employed, giving a very clear picture of Farner's voice, lyrics, and performance. The story that A&R man Michael Klefner was fired six weeks after signing this act is so typical of the industry -- and it is interesting how years later so many artists are re-releasing important material they've created on their own imprints. Lissmark Communications is Farner's own label founded by him and the former Freedom Reader editor, Steve Lisuk. Of note is that younger brother Rick Farner shows up on backing vocals along with Dennis Bellinger, both recorded in Toronto, with Bellinger becoming the bassist for the follow-up album, No Frills. He would replace Mel Schacher for the Grand Funk Lives and What's Funk? albums as well as the touring for that first reunion of GFR. The material here is licensed from Atlantic, manufactured by Rhino, and the initial press run is numbered. The company may let this title go out of print and re-release the albums on their own, which would make Heirlooms just that: a big time collectors item.
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AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione